I apologize to Atheist Nexus readers. I'm guilty of having used "Alt-Right" instead of 'White Nationalist" or "Fascist", uncritically following the lead of mass media. Yale historian Timothy Snyder has set me straight.
The term alt-right was created by the right-wing themselves. That’s Richard Spencer’s term. They use the word “alt-right” because it sounds more modern than “fascism.”
It’s other people trying to create this geometry where there is “alt-right” on one side and “alt-left” on the other side.
What this “alt” language does is you’re trying to keep the middle confused. You’re trying to say to the middle, “It’s just the extremes fighting it out.”
That makes it much harder for people to say, “Those are Nazis. Those are people carrying torches. Those are people chanting Nazi slogans. Those are people calling for the end of the constitutional order of the United States.” What actually happened in Charlottesville is a Nazi rally which led to domestic terrorism.
[Charlottesville] ... is … very bad because it revealed that we’re in a situation where the president will exploit something like this, where he suggests that there is no difference between Nazis and those who oppose them.
What the president is trying to do is to establish that there were terrorists on both sides. I think there is a political purpose to establishing that vocabulary, because if he can get his base to think that there are terrorists on both sides then it becomes easier to blame not the Nazis but rather other people — those who oppose Trump — if there is another terrorist incident.
Because when there is another incident, we know that the president could say, “Look, that was the ‘alt-left.’ Therefore we have to crackdown on the ‘opposition'” — which is most of the politically active population in the United States. That’s a very drastic position at the end. [emphasis mine]
The Charlottesville rally displayed how US right wing extremism now merges pro-Confederate White Supremacists with Neo-Nazis.
Here are two guys carrying Nazi flags.
image source (White Supremacist blogger "proving" there was only one)
Attendees at the rally also wore Nazi paraphernalia, carried flags with swastikas alongside Confederate flags, and wore shirts with quotations by Adolf Hitler. [Vox article]
Professor Snyder clarifies.
The right-wing marchers in Charlottesville were carrying torches, which is an imitation of Nazi methods. They were chanting anti-Semitic slogans. They were chanting “blood and soil,” which is a foundational concept of Nazism. Mr. Trump is kind of saying that the Nazis are one side and then everybody else is the other side. What that does is it promotes Nazism.
“Blood and soil”: What “blood and soil” means is that the government doesn’t matter, law doesn’t matter, politics begins from nature, and nature just means race. What race means is the struggle to control territory. Politics doesn’t start from rules or law, politics starts from violence. Politics is just the struggle of races for territory. When someone says “blood and soil,” what they’re saying is we need to re-begin politics as a murderous racial war which continues until one race survives.
If you heard it in a film you would recognize that “Heil Trump” is just “Heil Hitler” they’re literally using the call and response of a Nazi mass gathering. They know they’re doing this. [emphasis mine]
I found analysis of the symbols and slogans of the Charlottesville rally very helpful. There were so many unfamiliar-to-me Nazi symbols to which I was blind. Here's the first example:
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Socialist Movement traces its roots to the American Nazi Party, which was founded in 1959. The National Socialist Movement is the largest active neo-Nazi organization in America, openly reveres Adolf Hitler, and its members often protest in Nazi uniforms complete with swastika armbands.
It's dismaying that most people seem oblivious to the real danger of a Fascist police state being imposed by Trump and his fanatic base. Most of us don't understand the gravity of what we see and hear on the mass media's "pro-right language-sanitized" news. I personally know Jewish people who can't be bothered to even write to their legislators, to say "I object!" One article said that historically Fascism is best recognized in retrospect. While it's rising to power the populace doesn't understand. Even Hitler made the point that if people understood what the Nazis were about his rise wouldn't have been as easy. Fascists don't start out saying, "We plan to systematically murder a large percent of the public." The German people didn't have a clear historical precedent from which to learn. We do.
One group who aren't fooled are surviving WWII soldiers, who react in horror. See video here.
During Hitler's rise to power, as Germany and the world struggled to recover from the Great Depression, he promised that he would "make Germany great again". Many people, including a large number of Jews, believed that Hitler wanted to revive Germany's greatness for all its its people. Perhaps they can be excused, because there was no precedent for what eventually happened in Germany. We don't have that excuse! We know what happened in Germany, and we can see the same thing beginning to happen here in America. When Donald Trump says "let's make America great again", let recent history be our guide in how we respond to that. My mother's family were German Jews, and we lost several family members to the holocaust. I grew up listening to stories from a cousin and a grandfather who were holocaust survivors. This must never happen again! Evaluate everything that Trump says through the lens of our recent history.
Trump said he had a son in law who "happens to be Jewish"
There were books before Hitler by Germans suggesting the final solution. The anti-semitism was much stronger in Germany than it is today in USA among Americans. Even in USA there was a German American Bund and Silver Shirts who were Nazis. If Germany had prevailed it would have been wahoo...let me help you gather up American Jews for incineration.
On the other hand it is alarming how many supporters Trump has beyond those idiots who believed he was good for their pocket book. So pointing out parallels and speaking out is important.
I also despise the mindless knee-jerk notion that the constitution ought to protect all speech. There is no good reason to do so. There is ample historical precedent to oppose that speech. The reasons i hear for supporting such speech: we all have to have thick skin for any kind of offensive speech, if we stop nazis from speaking out then it will have a chilling effect on other speech.
First amendment protection of speech already contains many limitations. As to offensive speech it is sound reasoning to apply to other forms of speech like sexual and political. It is without merit in considering speech intended as racism. Pacifism and tolerance of hate encourages it, gives it legs.
We already have limitations on first amendment and it does not make sense to assume a chilling effect on other forms of speech.
The opposition to the nazis and their ilk is laudable. I wish the government would wage a war on hate/racism. We had one on drugs and it was silly. We need real education in USA exposing the history of eugenics, sterilization, social darwinism, fascism and racism. Real education, not white'washed propaganda. Further it would be a great way to unify america in attempting to eradicate hate groups. Incarcerate their leaders. Confiscate their property. Make it clear to citizens, immigrants and the world at large that we have turned the corner and decided to do the right thing. We protect the most vulnerable, not the inhumanoids among us.
Hate speech isn't protected in Germany any more.
In Germany every school child visits a concentration camp and learns of the dangers of Fascism and White supremacy. There are numerous monuments to victims, including markers on sidewalks designating homes where Jewish victims had lived. Here in the US, we don't even have memorials recognizing our genocide of Native Americans or to the victims of slavery. We tolerate monuments that honor Confederate leaders as heroes instead of of traitors and slavery defenders. Even public school history is, as you say white'washed propaganda.
I like the efforts by the German gov. And yeah stolperstein is a cool art/memorial although i have read that there are towns in germany that dont want it. And nazis in germany continue to demonstrate each week. Perhaps it is instructive that in former east germany there are more nazi demonstrators than in former west.
What passes for education is a joke. If a person does not educate herself then she knows not. When citizens are ignorant of history they are much more easily led.
And most of the Confederate monuments were built decades after the Civil War! The two major periods were from the 1900s into the 1920s, during the period of Jim Crow laws and resegregation, and in the 1950s and '60s after Brown v. Board of Education, during the civil rights movement. They were established not to honor history, but to assert white supremacy and give a giant governmental "fuck you" to Blacks or anyone else who dared demand equality.
(click to enlarge)
Oklahoma's 13 monuments (including a county name and five school names) are especially ironic, since Oklahoma only became a state in 1907!
Read much more: "Whose Heritage?: Public Symbols of the Confederacy" by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Freedom of speech doesn't keep a demonstrator from being fired from his job for waving a Nazi flag, and some have been fired. I'm not sure how I'd react if I found a neighbor had been with the Far Right group in Charlottesville, but it would be difficult to speak to that person. Working near such a person would be impossible. If I were still religious, going to church with one of them would be a real challenge, one that I'd fail.
The language may hide it a bit, but idiot-children carrying the Stars and Bars and swastikas sorta let the cat out of the bag, just a bit.
Agreed. The greatest thing to ever happen to the antifa movement was to come into contact with ACTUAL FASCISTS.
You can't be a proud Nazi and a Proud American at the same time. The entire world took action about that some years ago and settled the issue. White supremacists beg to differ but they are just flat out wrong. This makes Cheeto and his Fascists wrong also.
I agree with everything here. As long as "nazis" and "KKK" carry swastikas and wear white hoods fuck 'em. I worry about violence towards others that thugs like antifa deem to be nazis and kkk. Member of local Republican Party, wearer of a Make America Great Again hat, etc., my worry is that to an antifa punk, well, those must be fascists and anything goes. Fascism is fascism. Fascists wearing black hoods and kicking ass on people aren't "anti-fascists", they're fascists.