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Text and graphics Jaakko Kinnunen

Pepe the Frog, Twitter and Donald Trump

The internet-based movement is gaining notoriety for its memes and Twitter-campaigns. But what is the Alt-Right and what are its goals?

The phrase Alt-Right comes from the words ”Alternative Right”. The group is loosely connected and mostly online.

The movement has its own vernacular and iconography, derived from popular culture, message boards and video games. One of the best-known symbols of the Alt-Right is Pepe the Frog -meme. The green, depressed looking amphibian pops up on Twitter and on message boards whenever the discussion turns to the usual hot topics that the Alt-Right deems important.

The Alt-Right will also use pictures of concentration camps and other Nazi-related scenes to exasperate their antagonists. Vulgar and sometimes even blatantly offensive humour is also a trademark of the Alt-Right. For example, one the most popular Alt-Right podcasts is named the Daily Shoah, which refers to the long-running news satire and talk show, the Daily Show.

 

Richard Spencer, the director of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank based in Arlington, Virginia, is one of the ideological leaders of the Alt-Right. He has also been credited for coining the term Alt-Right back in 2010.

In a speech in September 2015, Spencer stated that the phenomenon is a backslash to ”white guilt”.

”We think that race is biologically real. It has tremendous social, cultural and historical consequences”, Spencer outlined his understanding of race.

Spencer speaks publicly about his ideas and also writes regularly on different platforms.He aspires to create an ”ethno-state”, based on white people and their culture.

Stephen Bannon, the former boss of Breitbart News, a reactionary news station, has been called one of the posterboys of the movement. Bannon is currently working as Donald Trump`s campaign manager, which has fuelled many conspiracy theories online.

Another important figure is Milo Yiannopoulos, a public speaker, who has talked openly about his connections to the Alt-Right movement. He is an outspoken conservative gay man, who is also a free-speech advocate. He has been banned from Twitter, where he made numerous comments regarding feminists, immigration, and politics that some people found to be bigoted and even racist. Yiannopoulos has denied the accusations vehemently. But he has admitted to trolling people knowingly.

In an interview with the CNBC in September, Yiannopoulos stated that the Alt-Right movement is a direct result of political correctness and the so-called outrage culture.

”This cult of being nice all the time and not saying what we really think, not saying what´s actually happening… the reason why people like me get upset about political correctness is that it kills. It results in horrible things happening, whether it`s San Bernandino, people say ´Oh, we knew but didn´t say anything, because we didn´t want to seem racist´.”

We think that race is biologically real. It has tremendous social, cultural and historical consequences.

In the Rubin Report, a liberal talk-show on Youtube, Yiannopoulos described the Alt-Right as a counterculture movement, uniting frustrated conservatives, who use social media and sometimes mean memes to get their point across.

On the one hand, he has acknowledged that some members of the movement hold racist ideas and spread hatred against other people. On the other hand, he emphasizes that the group is a minority within the movement and that most people associated with it are normal people, who feel that their voices are being silenced by the left-wing media and political correctness.

The host of the Rubin Report, Dave Rubin, called the members of the Alt-Right keyboard warriors.

”The Alt-Right is the organic result of a politically correct society that refuses to engage in ideas in an honest way. That doesn`t mean that the Alt-Right is right. It just means that they are here, and to demonize them without understanding them, doesn`t stop them. It actually strengthens them”, Rubin stated in his introduction.

 

Despite its clear opposition to the political left, especially in the United States, the Alt-Right cannot be defined as a conservative movement. Its followers are united in their criticism of the republican party and its mainstream conservative values.

One of the movement`s favorite slurs against conservatives is the word ”cuckservative”. The term refers to a conservative who makes a big show about guarding traditional values, but when the moment arrives, when those values have to be defended against the liberal left, the ”cuckservative” abandons those principles out of fear of being called racist, homophobic or islamophobic. The Alt-Right sees this kind of behavior as cowardice and offers itself as an alternative.

 

The Alt-Right has clashed loudly with the Black Lives Matter -movement. It sees BLM as an organised campaign against the US police and accuses it for anti-white sentiment.

Also, some of the members of the movement are clearly advocates for white-nationalism. They state that white culture and white people need to stand up for their values and heritage. In addition, they ask why it is socially acceptable for a black person to be proud of his or her culture and skin color, but not for a white person.

The supporters of the Alt-Right often invoke the claim that diversity equals ”white genocide”. In other words, they are stating that white people are fast becoming a minority in the United States and Europe. They see the mass immigration as a threat to people with European heritage.

The Alt-right is the organic result of a politically correct society that refuses to engage in ideas in an honest way.

The movement became a national headline in the USA, when Hillary Clinton mentioned it in her speech in August. The presidential nominee accused the Alt-Right of racism and implied that the movement has connections with the Donald Trump campaign.

”This is not conservatism as we know it. These are racist ideas, race-baiting ideas, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-women, all key tenets making up the emerging racist ideology known as the Alt-Right”, Clinton said.

Many of the movement`s adherents rejoiced the fact that Clinton brought them to the political forefront. They also admit publicly that they endorse Donald Trump.

”No matter what ever happens, I will be profoundly grateful to Donald Trump for the rest of my life”, Richard Spencer wrote on Twitter after Trump`s controversial speech in West Palm Beach a few weeks ago.

In an interview with the Rolling Stone magazine on the 18th of October, Spencer clarified his feelings about Donald Trump.

”It´s not so much about policy – it´s more about the emotions that he evokes. And emotions are more important than facts. Trump sincerely and genuinely cares about Americans, and white Americans in particular.”

 

The Alt-Right Twitter-army focuses on current events and attacks notable liberal media personalities and commentators. They use aliases and pseudonyms, which makes it difficult to know their true identity. Also, for the same reasons, the true number of the people involved in the movement is hard to pin down.

Nevertheless, it is clear that the Alt-Right can assemble a huge online presence by mobilizing its followers.

The Alt-Right movement has also taken root in Finland. Twitter username @altrightfinland declares that it defends white people against genocide and wants to offer an alternative view of current events. Like its counterpart in the USA, the Finnish Alt-Right is very outspoken and unapologetic in its statements and very active on social media.

 

The Alterntative Right is a diverse group of people and its motivations and goals are not easy to specify.

But one thing is clear. The Alt-Right has found a niche for itself on the internet. And unlike many of their antagonists, they really understand how online culture works. The next Pepe the Frog -meme is already on its way.

  1. Politically incorrect

    The alt-right’s goals ”are not easy to specify” only if you’re afraid of the R-word.

    Ilmoita asiattomasta kommentista

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