Making Sense of the Alt-Right – George Hawley

(Reviewed by JD Jung)

“…we can be reasonably concerned that a growing percentage of white America no longer views racism as a moral failing and is willing to be associated with explicit white-identity politics.”

That statement is pretty scary. It is also personally surprising to me. However, according to George Hawley, assistant professor of political science at the University of Alabama, this white-identity politics is the only concrete belief of what we now refer to as the “Alt-Right”. Economics and other issues don’t play a part.

Though there are a few major players, it is basically a loose unorganized group of online trolls. They are mostly young and tech-savvy. Hawley has done extensive research on this movement and has presented it in his book, Making Sense of the Alt-Right.

This research was difficult as the group treasures its anonymity. However he does a notable job of exploring the history and implications of the alt-right. He also describes how it is fundamentally different from traditional and neo-conservatism.

He explains how members get around social media bans on racial slurs and other controls. They seem to always be one step ahead of these sites.

What public individuals are considered part of the alt-right? Hawley doesn’t see much of a connection between Trump and the alt-right, though both help each other immensely. I agree with him, but for totally different reasons. His position is based on ideology, whereas I believe that Trump doesn’t have a particular belief system or goal for this country. He is too narcissistic, and his goal is simply to remain as President.

Hawley brings up questions on the potential dangers of the alt-right. Are they just an insignificant fringe group? Is the movement global?

Another important question comes from the free speech versus censorship debate. If we allow government and corporate restrictions of these groups, what is to stop the censoring of speech from groups like Occupy and Black Lives Matter?

After reading this book, I still can’t make sense of “The Alt-Right”. However, I do have a better understanding of their origins and methods. I also believe that we must take these groups seriously—at least be aware of their potential threat.

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