In the wake of the election, perhaps no topic has been more widely discussed and debated than the self-described “alt-right” — the racist, sexist, meme-happy, mostly internet-based movement associated with radical white supremacy that has unexpectedly taken center stage in US politics after the election of Donald Trump.
Though many consider the alt-right to be primarily a fringe movement encompassing multiple ideologies (including white nationalism and white supremacy), its supporters’ unorthodox tactics for promoting those ideologies were fundamental to Trump’s campaign, and thus fundamental to his victory. Said tactics include engaging in extremist discourse, using deceptive irony and racially tinged internet memes to confuse people into dismissing the “alt-right” label as a synonym for internet trolls, and spreading false and misleading information. Thus, it’s no surprise that the movement has become a focal point of the subsequent culture war and narrative surrounding the president-elect’s transition to the White House — particularly outrage that Trump arguably won through racist rhetoric and that his chief strategist is directly associated with the alt-right movement.
But one foundational aspect of the alt-right’s various belief systems has been significantly downplayed following the election — even though it may be the key to understanding the movement’s racist, white nationalist agenda. While it’s true that the movement is most frequently described in terms of the self-stated, explicit white supremacy that defines many of its corners, for many of its members, the gateway drug that led them to join the alt-right in the first place wasn’t racist rhetoric but rather sexism: extreme misogyny evolving from male bonding gone haywire.
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