Amidst the 24/7 coverage of the 2016 election in the media, a recent gathering of white supremacists at the Willard Hotel in downtown D.C. went largely unremarked. Press members had to track down the event after it abruptly switched venues, and attendance was low, but the subject material was potentially explosive.
The "alt-right" was having a coming out party. The leaders of the alt-right movement -- Richard Spencer, Peter Brimelow and Jared Taylor -- eagerly expounded to members of the press on what the self-styled "radicalists" really want from American politics: basically, a white America. The news made barely a ripple in a media cycle which saw it, amazingly, as simply more of the same type of remarks made all too common over the past year.
Despite their recent "coming out," the alt-right has been around for quite a while. It's a movement driven by racism, misogyny, and an overwhelming rage against "political correctness." In recent years, the alt-right has bolstered its numbers from the ranks of 4chan and 8chan (the nastiest corners of the internet); certain forums on Reddit; and the horrifying free-for-all that is the YouTube comments section.
The alt-right has massive overlap with other groups, notably the Men's Rights Activists (MRAs) and the Klan. The common threads of anti-woman, anti-black, and anti-Semitic sentiment run deep, and over the past 12 months the public expression of such sentiments has become frighteningly acceptable.
A video created by Media Matters features some of the highlights of the event in D.C. Even the opening remarks are disconcerting.
"When you ask whites to celebrate diversity, you're asking them to celebrate their dwindling numbers," said Spencer, President of the National Policy Institute and the man who coined the term "alt-right." "Race is a foundation of identity. You're a part of something whether you like it or not."
Taylor, a member of the American Renaissance and a self-described "white advocate" concurred. "I do not want my country to become one in which my children and grandchildren are not only a racial minority, but at the rate things are going now, a hated and despised minority." He later singled out Jews specifically as part of the problem, saying "There's been an overrepresentation by Jews in intellectuals who have tried to undermine the legitimacy of white racial consciousness."
Spencer agreed, chiming in, "Jews have their own identity. They're not European."
These comments are just the veneer covering the churning anti-Semitism that has been foaming for years below the surface.
Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF, of which I am a board member) has experienced far more targeted attacks on himself; his wife and MRFF's co-founder, Bonnie, author of To The Far Right Christian Hater... You Can be a Good Speller or a Hater, But You Can't Be Both, received enough anti-Semitic hate mail to fill entire chapters of her books, and attackers even violated the couple's family home with images of swastikas scrawled on the exterior.
Weinstein, who represents U.S. service personnel in fights against proselytizing and overt Christian supremacy in the military, gets volumes of anti-Semitic emails and phone calls every day, despite the fact that many of his clients are Christians themselves. A sampling of invective aimed in Weinstein's direction over just the last week includes such gems as:
nigger out and jewboy in jail! Stay out of Arizona KIKE. fuck you jewboy mickey wienstein. just as soon as the arab sandnigger is out of the white house you will go to jail with that cunt hillary for stopping bibles from given to veteran hospital soldiers. Stop the word of Christ? Christ will stop you're words jewboy.
Your old nasty cunt Hillary is going to prison! You worthless kike! We are many, We are legion, We are Anonymous.
This type of hate mail has been coming Mikey and Bonnie's way for years -- there's even an archive on the MRFF website:
Spare a Jew from the grave, and he will insult the military that saved him. Spare a nigger the whip, and he'll turn to insult the man who made the whip... the lesser need to understand that they're made that way.
Maybe you can help me with my history prep for the GED. Did they really make your grandmother into soap?
The anti-Semitic trolling is widespread and mainstream. A few months ago, the "echo parenthesis" appeared yet again in the form of an app designed to identify Jews on social media. The Anti-Defamation League recently analyzed a list of just under 20,000 explicitly anti-Semitic Tweets tagging around 800 reporters and editors. Four fifths of the 45 million generated impressions were directed at just 10 journalists, with vivid imagery of concentration camps and vile language -- and thousands were retweeted by obvious alt-right accounts.
Can all of this public anti-Semitism be laid at the feet of the alt-right? Not really. But the movement has made it socially acceptable to publicly express such views, emboldening others and building a wave of hatred and white supremacist racism that is frightening to behold.
Ambassador Joseph Wilson