On the weekend of August 11, 2017, right-wing extremists, or what many call the Alt-Right, gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, to protest the pending removal of a statue of Confederate leader Robert E. Lee from a city park. Many were shocked to see images of the protest on Friday, with Neo-Nazis and other extreme right supporters carrying torches en masse, in one of the largest extreme right protest events in recent history, and were horrified when participants in the protest on Saturday murdered a counter-demonstrator and injured dozens more. President Trump suggested that both sides were to blame for the violence, generating an outpouring of dismay and arguments that he was “Giving the right a boost,” and sanctioning the violence. However, while many may have been surprised by the protest, those of us who study the extreme right were not. And, while President Trump’s support for the Alt-Right does enable them, their mobilization started long before he became a candidate for President. I argue here that social movement scholarship on extreme right mobilization predicts this contemporary mobilization. Particularly relevant are theories regarding the mobilizing effect of economic and political threat, including power devaluation theory, as well as scholarship on political and discursive opportunities. Continue reading
Category Archives: Alt-Right
Donald Trump’s recent rise to power has put a spotlight on what has come to be known as the “alt-right.” Yet the alt-right proceeded the Trump campaign and has, perhaps, contributed to Trump’s victory and also benefited from its close ties with the White House. This dialogue invites social scientists to comment on its causes, consequences, and its likely trajectory. What can social movement scholars learn from this movement? What has contributed to its successes? What limitations to future growth does it face (if any)? What type of people are most likely to be attracted to the alt-right, and why? How can this movement be resisted? How severe is the threat posed by the movement? How should progressives respond to the way in which the alt-right prompts debate and contention over the line between hate speech and free speech?
Many thanks to our wonderful group of contributors.
Hajar Yazdiha, University of Southern California-Dornsife (essay)
Robert Futrell & Pete Simi, University of Nevada-Las Vegas & Chapman University (essay)
Nella Van Dyke, University of California-Merced (essay)
Ziad Munson, Lehigh University (video)
Editors in Chief,
Grace Yukich, David Ortiz, Rory McVeigh, Guillermo Trejo
By Robert Futrell & Pete Simi
Since the 2016 US presidential election, observers have tried to explain the sudden rise of the “new alt-right.” This focus on newness belies the persistent and continuous aspects of US white supremacist activism. In our new research, we explore the ebbs and flows in white supremacy over the last several decades. We identify two phases and describe the longest one as a period of “active abeyance,” in which white supremacists embraced a conscious strategy to withdraw from traditional public activism and recruitment, in favor of more informal, private activism directed at sustaining the movement. Recently, white supremacist leaders and networks have pushed to more openly advocate for white supremacist goals. The “alt-right” is one manifestation of a broader effort to rebrand racial and anti-Semitic extremism and move it from the shadows into mainstream politics, culture, and consciousness. Continue reading