As a writer, words are my currency, and like all currencies, different words have different value. Say what you will about sticks and stones, but some words do more than hurt, they evoke fear, outrage or derision. Genocide, racist, apocalypse, pandemic, termination or circus peanuts are such words.
On the other hand, there are words that are benign but when strung together, like: non-consensual sex, mandatory career transition, ethnic cleansing, New Coke, end up meaning things that are pretty horrible.
Alt-Right, a term being thrown around a lot in the media these days, is one of those words. It might make you think of Alex P. Keaton (the adorable, caring, conservative, from Family Ties, who was a fun alternative to his hippy, liberal parents) or a cute name for a store filled with things for left handed people, like Ned Flander’s store, the Leftorium.
However, it’s a term created by Richard Spencer, leader of the National Policy Institute, which in itself sounds like a pretty innocuous group. The National Policy Institute is a small non-profit “dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States.” That might even sound neutral but a quick look into their ideas and you will probably come to a different conclusion. Here’s just a tidbit from a recent Rolling Stone article.
Spencer reflects on the significance of what he sees as Trump’s affinity for white nationalism. “It’s not so much about policy – it’s more about the emotions that he evokes,” he says. “And emotions are more important than facts. Trump sincerely and genuinely cares about Americans, and white Americans in particular.”
Yesterday the NY Times reported Spencer as saying,
White identity, he said, is at the core of both the alt-right movement and the Trump movement, even if most voters for Mr. Trump “aren’t willing to articulate it as such.”
“For the alt-right, the most exciting thing about Mr. Trump was that he built a campaign around the issues that mattered most to them, and that white people had voted for him in numbers that left the political establishments of both parties stunned. Now, Mr. Spencer said, it is up to the alt-right to formulate the ideas and policies to guide the new administration.”
Mr. Spencer ideas are dangerously close to the White House since they’ve been provided a platform by some of the people closest to the President-elect. It will get harder and harder to discern the full meaning of what is happening to our country if we allow this doublespeak, to continue.
I propose an action that should be totally bipartisan, both Democrats and Republicans should be able to get behind. We need to demand that if the media insists on using the term Alt-right in their reporting they also must add the term white supremacist or even white nationalist alongside. That’s what they are and we cannot let them pretend otherwise.