- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Hillary Clinton will warn the country Thursday about the dangers of the “alt-right” — the ultraconservative nationalist movement that she says is little more than modern-day racism and has hitched itself to the campaign of Donald Trump.

The criticism, which comes from civil rights leaders as well as Mrs. Clinton, has dogged Mr. Trump almost from the start of his campaign, but the barbs sharpened last week after the Republican presidential candidate tapped Breitbart News chief Stephen K. Bannon to be campaign CEO.

As Trump critics tell it, the Republican nominee — with his tough talk on ousting illegal immigrants, accusing Mexicans of serious crimes and vowing to halt admission of Muslims into the U.S. — has given hope and comfort to a fringe movement that is desperate for legitimacy.

“This term ‘alt-right’ is simply a rebranding … of white nationalism, and it is an attempt to give respectability to hateful ideas: white supremacy, rabid racism, anti-Semitism and so on that has long been considered unacceptable in the American mainstream,” said Heidi Beirich, head of Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The project tracks what it deems hate organizations and puts many pro-Trump groups on that list.

Those who are part of the alt-right, which has existed primarily online and has an unknown number of followers, say the attacks against Mr. Trump are misplaced.

Donald Trump has his own views of things, and it is a complete accident as far as he is concerned that people who are described as ‘alt-right’ happen to support him,” said Jared Taylor, founder and editor of the American Renaissance, a white nationalist online website.

The “alt-right” movement — short for “alternative right” — resembles the tea party. Each grew out of a disdain for leftist politics, doubts about the military adventurism of the Bush administration and the sense that the conservative Republican Party establishment had grown stale and lost its way.

But members of the alt-right tend to be younger than tea partyers. Instead of focusing on the national debt and fiscal issues, they have zeroed in on cultural and biological preservation of a white America.

“I would say that my ultimate dream would be something akin to Zionism, and that would be a homeland of our own,” said Richard Spencer, head of the National Policy Institute who is credited with coining the term “alternative right” in 2008. “So it would be a state that is for all white people around the world — much like Israel is a state for all Jews from around the world.”

It’s a dream, he said, “akin to a leftist dreaming about communism,” but a goal worth setting for a movement that is still trying to find its place in politics.

“I hate to say this, but I actually think there is an analogy between the Black Lives Matter movement and the alt-right,” he said. “The Black Lives Matter movement is an ‘identitarian’ movement for blacks; we are an ‘identitarian’ movement for whites.”

Mr. Trump has struggled to handle questions about his dealings with some of the more radical elements among his supporters. His campaign had to disavow a convention delegate who was a self-described white nationalist, and the candidate himself seemed to demur when asked about support from members of the Ku Klux Klan. Mr. Trump later said he rejected their support.

Mrs. Clinton will target Mr. Trump in a speech in Nevada, on the same day that the Republican nominee was expected to lay out his immigration policy. The immigration speech has been postponed as Mr. Trump and his team try to fine-tune his stances.

In the meantime, members of the alt-right are enjoying attention they are receiving as a result of the Clinton critique. They say the Democratic presidential nominee is helping them reach a broader audience.

They also have celebrated the Trump campaign’s decision to hire Mr. Bannon, who has been criticized for pandering to the alt-right during his time at the conservative Breitbart website.

“Bannon is not alt-right himself, but he has these elective affinities of the alt-right,” Mr. Spencer said. “So the fact that he is in charge of the Trump campaign means that Trump is going to be Trump. Trump is going to touch on alt-right ideas, he is going to touch on nationalist ideas, he is going to touch on these big things.”

Mr. Taylor said the exposure could help his group efforts to “wake more and more white people up to the crisis that they face as white people” and “for them to understand that whites have legitimate group interests.”

“Every other racial group is quite relentlessly pushing those interests,” he said. “Hispanics want the country to be more Hispanic. Blacks want advantages of one sort or another, Asians are discovering how useful it is to press explicitly racial demands, and if whites are the only group that is not doing this, this is unilateral disarmament and unilateral disarmament means inevitable defeat.”

Ben Shapiro, a conservative commentator who has worked for Breitbart and has emerged as a vocal critic of the alt-right, said he agrees that political correctness and attacks on white people are wrong but disagrees with the way the alt-right responds.

“If I see racism, I say, ‘Don’t be racist,’” he said. “They say, ‘Why can’t I be racist?’”

He also said Mr. Trump is more aligned with the alt-right than he is with the conservative movement “because he does not believe in constitutional limitations” and thinks that “America requires closed borders and closed trade.”

“The heart is getting ripped out of the conservative movement by these people, and people are going along with it because they are so willing to stop Hillary Clinton,” he said.

Moving forward, Mr. Spencer said, he envisions white identity political organizations and a white congressional caucus that can help respond to the nation’s changing demographics and the expectation that the U.S. will become majority-minority over the next 50 years.

“European identity politics is a historic inevitability,” he said. “Whether it happens with the alt-right or through some other medium, it will happen, and what I mean by that is you can’t expect white people to become a minority in a multiracial country and not have a sense of themselves and not to be active in support of their people in some way, shape or form. So European identity politics is coming — period.”

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