Why Won’t the Alt-Right Call Out Their Terrorists?
Illustration by Devin Finch
Every time a Muslim commits an act of terror by killing or injuring people, you see the same comment over and over and over again; why won’t the Muslim community condemn such actions? Of course, the chowderheads who spout that drivel never bother to check if there’s actually been any widespread Muslim condemnation, which there always is, in every case, without fail. To the racist mind the Other is homogenous, and any action committed by a member of that group is representative of that group as a whole. Try to remind them that Muslims make up a quarter of the Earth’s population and that their different denominations number in the thousands, and you get a blank stare.
I have a question, though; how come the alt-right never comes out and condemns its own terrorists?
Homegrown, right-wing and usually white male-centric terrorism is the most dangerous terrorism in America, far outweighing anything jihadist have done on American soil since 9/11. And yet, despite the growing hillock of murdered and injured people, I have rarely if ever seen an alt-right condemnation of such terrorists from their Keyboard Warrior Division.
This past week in Houston a lawyer named Nathan Desai suddenly opened fire and shot six people before being killed by police. He was wearing Nazi paraphernalia during his attack. I went over to check on the happy Nazis over on Stormfront to see what they had to say on the subject. On a four-page thread exactly one person expresses sadness that people got hurt, while everyone else laments this will probably be blamed on Donald Trump. Breitbart, which is as mainstream media as the alt-right gets, focused entirely on background checks for guns. No sympathy for the victims or interest in addressing the alt-right’s role in stopping these sort of actions was to be found on 4chan’s /pol/ either.
Now, there’s no evidence Desai had any participation in alt-right culture, and most people in those spheres would saying assuming he was one of them is unfair. And maybe it is.
However, the rise of the alt-right from anonymous image board serial harassers to organized hate mobs dedicated to social regressivism to a fringe element of a major party presidential campaign is very disturbing. When Hillary Clinton has to spend time explaining who Pepe the Frog is we have very much let the stupid, racist conspiracy-minded genie out of the bottle.
Bigoted ideas that used to be hammered out only in the deep web are now mainstream political talking points. Donald Trump is happy to partner with the Remembrance Project, an anti-immigration group with ties to white nationalism. It was groups like this that radicalized Dylann Roof into killing nine people in Charleston, and, if there was any condemnation from the likes of Breitbart, I didn’t find it in my searches. Mostly, they seemed more concerned with convincing people firearm background checks don’t work so we shouldn’t bother at all, and not in any way wondering why or how they are empowering ideological spree murderers.
Trump is largely the new face of the alt-right, being all too happy to retweet Neo-Nazis and anti-Semitic memes to his nearly 12 million followers. It’s normalized a new American fascism, and those new fascists become emboldened by it. An increasing number of violent dissidents, everyone from Elliot Rodgers and his consumption of anti-feminist rhetoric to John Russell Houser and his love of praising Hitler in forums, are being loosely connected to this new normal. When these acts of terrorism occur, there’s very little organized repudiation from the forums and outlets that spawn them. Instead, they typically double down on classic talking points such as gun rights and anti-government sentiment.
It’s possible the alt-right doesn’t condemn these acts because, like radical Islamic groups, they welcome and celebrate them, even if they’re smart enough not to say as much overtly out loud. More likely you don’t hear much outcry because the alt-right is more than anything concerned with total nihilism. Trump may be their current mascot, but their support of him is born completely out of the desire to annoy others no matter what the consequences. The original image board culture that spawned the current mess is obsessed with creating a consequence-free zone where the most terrible ideas can be openly supported in the idea that nothing being said is real or has real-world effects.
It’s said that we now live in a post-fact world, but that’s not accurate. The alt-right understands facts fine; they just don’t think facts matter as much as winning an argument. It’s a frightening disconnect from reality, which appeals well to the sort of folks who like to express their grievances with bullets. As long as the alt-right can plausibly pretend that filling the air with toxic hate doesn’t contribute to radicalization and violence, they can keep on doing it and lose nothing by failing to admonish their monsters. Unlike, say, American Muslims, who see upticks in hate crimes following Islamic terrorism, the alt-right is in no danger. It’s all just a game to them.
by Jef Rouner