Far Right Là Gì

White nationalism has come out of the basement & entered the mainstream. Would you recognize it if it came to lớn your classroom?



“It has swallowed up most of the guys in the senior class at my school. ... Every discussion devolves inkhổng lồ things lượt thích which girls are ‘feminazis,’ celebrities dating outside their ethnithành phố being ‘white genocide,’ and so on. … I’m genuinely scared that it’s going to lớn spread to the point where I won’t have anyone I can talk to lớn lượt thích a normal human being.”

These words were written by a teenager to lớn The American Conservative sầu magazine. The “it” he says has overtaken his classmates: the so-called "alt-right," a loosely affiliated group whose teen-friendly messaging inspired the spread of fascist igiao dịch aước ao his friends. The group espouses beliefs so far outside the mainstream that their popularity is causing widespread anxiety and alarm, even lớn people who, like the young man who wrote the tin nhắn, embrace their right-wing identities.

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For educators, a more imminent concern comes with the alt-right’s rise: They’re recruiting.


Decoding the Alt-Right

For the misunderstood, the misanthrope or for a person who simply feels amiss, an “alternative” represents one of three things: a new path, a new plan of action or a new reality.

For Richard Spencer—who is quickly becoming the most visible Trắng nationalist in the United States—“alternative” represented a chance khổng lồ rebrvà.


Richard Spencer at a White nationadanh sách rally in Charlottesville, VA. (Shaban Athuman /Richmond Times-Dispatch via APhường Images)

Spencer is often credited for coining the term “alternative sầu right” in 2008. Its meaning is vague, used as an umbrella term encompassing right-wing iđơn hàng at odds with establishment conservatism & multicultural society.

Keegan Hankes is an intelligence analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center who studies the alt-right. “The animating grievance of the alt-right is the same thing as Trắng nationalism,” Hankes says. “Concern over Trắng identity, belief that Western civilization is crumbling, that liberal democracy has failed, và that a symptom of this failure is multiculturalism.”

Today, an online community comprised of entertainment-seeking trolls and true trắng nationalists find themselves mingling within this amorphous movement. This makes it difficult to lớn l& on a singular comprehensive sầu definition of the alt-right. The term refers lớn an ideological island that hosts (all at once) a joke shop, a meme factory, truyền thông influencers, a Neverland for lost boys who feel disempowered or a dangerous sociopolitical movement—depending on who you ask.

Both contradiction và connection define the different factions of the alt-right. On one side is what Data và Society calls an “aggressive sầu trolling culture,” individuals who use inside jokes và hate speech to lớn inspire anger. On the other side are new media personalities & social truyền thông influencers who are spreading racist, anti-multiculturacác mục, anti-feminist propaganda. These sides unite behind a nostalgia for a past in which diversity wasn’t openly embraced, và behind a disdain for what they perceive sầu to lớn be obstacles that keep them from “traditional” white masculine entitlements: racial and sexual dominance và economic power.

It wasn’t always this way. Dale Beran, a comic-book writer who has taught at both the middle school và college levels, has closely followed online forums lượt thích 4chan and others that gave sầu birth to many alt-right leaders, tactics và messaging. Beran says he has seen a fundamental shift in the ideas expressed in those forums over time.

“They kind of started out as trolls, và people who were making fun of the fact that they didn’t get out of their mom’s basement or their life was not working out, or that they kind of identified as losers,” Beran explains. “That slowly kind of transformed inkhổng lồ a political platform of taking your powerlessness and feeling empowered by it using far-right ideology. Over time, the irony kind of melts away.”

What remains is messaging that teachers would be remiss to interpret as harmless jokes or outlier opinions. When these rhetorical exchanges make their way out of online communities và into classrooms, they threaten safe learning environments in schools, particularly for students who belong to lớn identity groups viewed as problematic or inferior by members of the alt-right.

Of equal concern is the fact that students susceptible to lớn alt-right messaging can easily fall down a wormhole of online radicalization.

“I think you need to get them while they are young,” Spencer has said.

That is exactly what the alt-right is banking on.

How the Alt-Right Appeals to lớn Young People

“The thing that the alt-right does better than white nationalism has done, in the years that I’ve been tracking it, is it gets young people involved,” Hankes says.

With its origins in online culture, the alt-right speaks the language of millennials and younger generations. Information (and disinformation) is distilled inkhổng lồ easy-to-digest videos, memes và sound bites, often imbued with a snarky, “nobody-understands-me” tone.

It is, by design, an affiliation that appeals khổng lồ young people. Speaking at a conference in Washington, D.C., Spencer once said of the alt-right: “It’s edgy & dangerous, it’s cool và hip. It’s that thing our parents don’t want us to vị.”

Spencer và others have made it a priority to lớn target young, impressionable minds. He, Milo Yiannopoulos & other figures tied lớn the alt-right speak on college campuses. The Pettibone sisters have sầu started a young-adult book series. Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin made headlines with a publicity stunt in which he claimed lớn recruit kids through Pokétháng Go.

But such outreach is barely necessary. Alt-right outlets reach young people through their phones. Unlượt thích the far-right leaders of yesteryear, today"s alt-right leaders are tech-savvy và skew young, giving them an air of relatability that few politicians or activists can match.

“Social truyền thông can be very powerful in shaping outlooks, but it doesn’t operate in a vacuum,” explains Data & Society researcher Becca Lewis. “The shaping is coming from the other people using the platforms.”

The alt-right has a massive presence on social truyền thông và other channels where young people congregate. A Washington Post analysis identified 27,000 influential Twitter accounts associated with the alt-right, 13 percent of which are considered radical. Later, a George Washington University study found that trắng nationamenu accounts in the United States have sầu seen their follower counts grow by 600 percent since 2012.

According to a Data và Society report, young people tover lớn find their news via social truyền thông media, prefer user-generated nội dung (e.g., videos) và distrust traditional outlets. At the same time, young people seek emotional connections lớn sources and, thanks to lớn confirmation bias và online algorithms, fall inkhổng lồ emang lại chambers where their views are rarely challenged.

“That’s kind of the problem with … the intensive sầu tailoring of information,” explains Dr. James Hawdon, director for the Center for Peace Studies và Violence Prevention at Virginia Tech. “You just get led inkhổng lồ this rabbit hole of increasingly extreme ideas.”

For young people, the race to construct their online emang lại chambers may also be the race khổng lồ construct their belief systems.

“If you catch an impressionable young person at the right time, that could easily be your red pill, as would điện thoại tư vấn it,” Hankes said.

And their messages are already echoing in high school hallways.

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The young man who wrote to The American Conservative in February expressed his concern over alt-right ideas spreading rapidly amuốn his once-conservative, Christian-school peers, whom he called angry and aimless.

“It’s absolutely nuts, but what am I going khổng lồ do?” he wrote. “aybe that’s just the norm for kids my age now, and I’m going lớn just have sầu lớn be paranoid that everyone that I meet is secretly a trắng nationamenu.”

Hawdon is in the midst of a study of online radicalization in the United States. The alt-right represents the most “far-reaching” group, he says, and the message resonates primarily with young men.


Demonstrators carry Confederate and Nazi flags during the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, VA. (Sipa via AP Images)

“A consistent message in the alt-right movement is that working-class trắng males are being shut out & the government is looking out for all these other groups và the world is being taken away from us,” Hawdon says. “Especially if you spent a lot of time online, you could become convinced that everyone in the world is being handed except for you.”

How often bởi these ideas reach young people? Hawdon’s retìm kiếm found that nearly two-thirds of respondents ages 15 to lớn 35 had seen extremist messages within the past three months.

What draws them in? According to Lewis, teenage angst and the alt-right’s “specific tactics online for radicalizing young men” create an appealing combination.

“Teenagers often go through phases of rebellion as they shape their identities,” says Lewis. “4chan & 8chan can be really appealing places to lớn experiment with shocking & subversive ideas.”

Those ideas, when diluted (or cloaked in humor) draw in a broad audience and open a door for young people who may not engage with extreme ideas otherwise.

Milo Yiannopoulos: Former Breitbart writer who made a name for himself by reporting on factions of the alt-right. His primer on the movement helped push the alt-right inkhổng lồ mainstream discourse.

The Daily Stormer: Neo-Nazi website named after Nazi propagandomain authority sheet Der Stürmer, featuring a “Stormer Troll Army” community behind several harassment campaigns. The site mixes memes & anti-Semitic và racist rhetoric inkhổng lồ a news-website format.

Andrew Anglin: Founder of The Daily Stormer & former 4chan troll who has spearheaded several campaigns of disinformation và harassment.

redpilled: First appropriated from The Matrix, then from the “manosphere” of 4chan culture, redpilled refers to lớn protagonist Neo’s choice lớn take the red pill (as opposed to the blue pill) in order to lớn see the truth about society. For the alt-right, it means espousing their viewpoints và seeing through the lies purportedly spread by feminists, mainstream truyền thông media & multiculturalists.

8chan: Like 4chan, but even less regulated, the /pol/ board is an epicenter of far-right organizing, be it serious or “for the lulz,” và features many of the alt-right’s most distasteful memes and messages.

Which Students Are Susceptible?

While Hawdon cautions that “basically, anyone can be radicalized,” a typical protệp tin does emerge for students susceptible lớn alt-right messaging: young, Trắng, male and—in some way—feeling powerless.

Dale Beran saw a pattern of young men who felt humiliated by traditional standards, whether because they were underemployed or deemed undesirable by women. Alice Marwiông xã & Becca Lewis of Data & Society also noted a comtháng disdain for “political correctness” và, often, social isolation in schools or communities.

By its very nature, online radicalization happens outside of the classroom. But Hawdon says that teachers have a chất lượng opportunity khổng lồ stop radicalization in its tracks.


Alt-right rhetoric often cloaks its meaning behind pop-culture references and inside jokes. But if teachers learn to recognize these red flags, they can recognize students who are at risk—and step in.

“If it starts happening again và these stories become increasingly extreme and increasingly violent, that’s a kid who’s on the path,” Hawdon says. “If people can intervene early enough, then they can be diverted from that path.”


Combating the Alt-Right in Class

Diversion can begin in the classroom, perhaps before students are even exposed to lớn alt-right messaging. The first key, according to lớn experts: Do not normalize the alt-right.

“If I was a teacher, I would really just hit trang chủ that, again, where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” Hankes says. “If the leaders are stated white nationalists, it feels like Trắng nationalism, they’re arguing for an ethno-state, then it is trắng nationalism.”

Many teachers worry about accusation of partisanship. But experts are clear that being affiliated with the alt-right is in no way the equivalent of being right-of-center, nor is there any need to lớn obscure or soften the alt-right’s messages with euphemisms.

Instead, teachers can undercut propagandomain authority by teaching about the struggles faced by the marginalized groups the alt-right often targets.

“I would just vị everything in my power to lớn humanize the would-be victims,” Hankes says. “It needs lớn be clear there’s only one road to lớn an ethno-state, & that’s by some sort of, most likely, violent program lớn reverse diversity.”

The Atlantic recently profiled teachers Kathryn Leslie and Malcolm Cawthorne, who used Richard Spencer’s own words as a vehicle khổng lồ discuss extremist thoughts and how they might manifest. The open dialogue allowed students lớn discuss why someone might be swept up in alt-right messaging.

Beyond political và historical literacy, however, lies a skill phối that could offer students the tools lớn avoid online radicalization on their own: digital literacy. Fostering digital literacy could, for example, help students understand how the alt-right takes advantage of a 24-hour thirst for headlines và garners mainstream truyền thông coverage for memes, conspiracy theories and misinformation campaigns. It could also inkhung students of how online and truyền thông climates can be so influential in shaping consumers’ worldviews.

“It’s obviously incumbent upon the education system to teach kids how khổng lồ use computers and the website,” Hawdon says. “Educators need to lớn be aware of this và need lớn warn their students about it and khổng lồ encourage the use of the virtual world, the navigation of the virtual world, in such a way that students are at least aware of what’s happening.”

Students left lớn differentiate between the rational và the radical on their own remain vulnerable to the tactics of the alt-right, as vị students who could experience harassment or worse as a result of the movement"s success. On both edges of the political spectrum, online radicalization has led to lớn acts of violence. The war against “political correctness,” fed in part by the alt-right, has led lớn unsafe và uncivil climates in schools & communities. And, as the August 12, 2017, "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, brought inlớn stark relief, white-nationamenu actors are presenting more public và more emboldened threats than they have sầu in decades.

In that letter khổng lồ The American Conservative sầu, the student lamented, “I don’t know that any adults would take me seriously if I told them this was a problem.”

But what if they did?

Collins is a staff writer for Teaching Tolerance. Senior Editor Monita K. Bell contributed research lớn this story.

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