“Alt-right” has become a household term in recent months as the movement threw its support behind Donald Trump.
But activists have warned that the phrase “alt-right” is simply a sanitized rebranding of “white nationalism” and conflating the two has dangerous implications.
That’s why a New-York based advertising professional, who is using the pseudonym George Zola, created a Google Chrome extension called “Stop Normalizing The Alt Right,” which automatically replaces all mentions of the “alt-right” with the phrase “white supremacy.”
“Stop Normalizing The Alt Right” became available on Google Chrome on Nov. 17th and has since been well-received online. So far, it has already amassed more than 59,000 direct Facebook shares and 1,700 downloads.
“I don’t want this term to be sugar coated, I want it to instantly make [people] recoil in the same way most recoil when thinking of white supremacists or white nationalists groups,” Zola told HuffPost. “They’re scary, dangerous, and it’s important we stop the normalization of this before it gets out of hand. History shows us how quickly these movements can spiral out of control.”
Radio host and popular cultural commentator Jay Smooth created a similar extension called “Alt-Right Denormalizer,” which automatically replaces all appearances of the “alt-right” with “rebranded white nationalism.”
Zola, who is white, said he created his extension as a way to express solidarity and to stand together to help protect human rights. He said that although the extension is just a small part of a larger goal to denounce hate online, he hopes it will help make things more clear for “the rational Trump supporters out there who don’t tolerate white supremacy” as well as a “large portion of Americans in denial about how bad [racism] is, or worse, [refuse] to think there’s a race problem at all.”
Smooth ― who frequently speaks out against racism and oppression ― said although his extension has more than 1,000 downloads to date, he didn’t launch it with high expectations. Instead, he said the “real work” will require the media, and its consumers, to think critically and treat these threats “with the seriousness they deserve.”
After all, Smooth said, it’s important now more than ever in the wake of Trump’s win to denounce hate and bigotry in all its forms.
“Lots of politicians use coded language & dog whistles to appeal to people’s racism,” he said. “But Trump was more brazen and open about it than any major candidate in recent history, and for him to prevail with these tactics is a scary precedent. Seeing Donald Trump win makes people feel safe to speak that hate more loudly, and act on it more violently. This is a real danger.”