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3 Ways to Understand the Racist Alt-Right

Born to a black father and a white mother, I was raised first in the suburbs of Detroit and later in the Twin Cities metro. Immersed in a majority-white culture, I had no shortage of opportunities to be confronted by racism. That said, I can truthfully say that I have seen more genuinely racist expression in the past year than in the previous 36. The progress which emerged from the civil rights era, leading the culture toward Martin Luther King's dream of a world where people are judged according to the content of their character, has seen a regression toward the darkness of our nation's past.

The most recent manifestation of this devolution calls itself the "alternative right." We at PJ Media have recently offered two glimpses into the movement, my declaration that "The Alt-Right Is Evil and Must Be Opposed" and Michael van der Galien's follow-up "The Mask Comes Off: The Alt-Right Is Racist to Its Core." Among the varied response has been confusion regarding what the alt-right is and even disbelief that it truly exists.

Here are three analogs we can look to to aid in our understanding of the movement's nature:

1) The Progressives: New Name, Same Old Leftists

At the height of his influence, Glenn Beck went to great lengths on his Fox News program to educate his viewers about the progressive movement. He drove home that the term "progressive" was just marketing. There was nothing new about the progressives. They were simply rebranded leftists. When the term "liberal" became tainted in the political discourse, it was cast aside in favor of a new term that lacked the negative connotation.

In a similar sense, while the term "alt-right" has only begun to enter the political discourse, the ideas associated with the term have been around for ages. There's nothing new about tribal identity politics or white nationalism. They found a new name, one which sounds respectable, even trendy. Being "alt-right" is something you can claim without the immediate connotations of "white nationalist."