On Saturday, the worst of the worst in society showed their faces in Charlottesville, Va., in an attempt to regain the spotlight and stand up in the name of “preserving history” and “white supremacy.”
The “alt-right,” as they term themselves, are not “right” by any means. They claim to believe in American nationalism, under the auspices of promoting “traditional values.” In actuality, they are racists and anti-Semites, plain and simple. Their rhetoric has no place in American politics. They drum up moral outrage over race, religion, and ethnicity to pander to philosophical ideas that are rooted in Nazism, rather than American conservatism.
The alt-right first came to public prominence with Gamergate. These least-desirable members of the internet have quickly come out of the woodwork and become an, at best, annoying trend. Over the past year they attempted to associate themselves with the campaign of Donald TrumpDonald TrumpBiden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package Trump calls Milley a 'f---ing idiot' over Afghanistan withdrawal First rally for far-right French candidate Zemmour prompts protests, violence MORE and earned enough legitimacy in the public eye to even be publicly rebuked by Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublican Ohio Senate candidate slams JD Vance over previous Trump comments Budowsky: Why GOP donors flock to Manchin and Sinema Countering the ongoing Republican delusion MORE. The alt-right has attempted to hijack conservatism and reshape it into their own dangerous ideology.
However, up until this year the “alt-right” has been mostly comprised of faceless internet “trolls” who feel sorry for themselves and want to take their rage out on others; young men seeking a quick trip to fame and a platform without principles; or terribly wrong conspiracy theorists who rise as the movement’s leaders.
By resorting to these tactics of outright intimidation, even violence, they are signaling not that they are growing. Rather, they are desperate, failing and willing to use any means necessary to remain in the public eye.
The “alt-right” attempted to latch themselves onto the Trump platform and ride it for attention. However, their supposed “leader” in the White House has only disappointed them time and time again, from his military intervention in Syria, to his repeated endorsement and support of the Jewish state of Israel. Donald Trump is not a white nationalist, and does not represent the values they falsely expected of him. All Americans, Trump told the nation, “whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots.”
Trump has repeatedly and strongly condemned white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. And although Trump’s original response to Charlottesville did not explicitly mention white supremacists, Duke clearly knew Trump was condemning his ideology.
"We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for," the president wrote on Twitter. "There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!"
In response, Duke slammed Trump, tweeting: "So, after decades of White Americans being targeted for discriminated & anti-White hatred, we come together as a people, and you attack us."
Quickly, the White House updated its statement, explicitly condemning “white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazis and all extremist groups.”
Without a leader in office to validate their existence, the alt-right’s only other option is to turn to the streets to get their message out, by any means necessary.
Their message, demonstrated by their own words from this weekend, is the same “blood and soil” traditionalist ideology that the German Nazi Party used to rally support. They have appropriated and twisted the words of the Founding Fathers to claim this ideology is at the core of American values. They have taken the racist “14 words” mantra and brought it into the open, using racial epithets that no decent person would tolerate, let alone speak.
The Declaration of Independence is far from a declaration of a white ethnostate. Rather, it sets forth the self-evident truths, “that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
This concept of natural rights, originating with John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government, did not hedge exceptions.
Indeed, American history has demonstrated that the notion of a “white” America is absurd. Our nation overcame slavery, welcomed immigrants seeking asylum from famine and oppression, and offered every person the opportunity to create a life of their own.
The founding principles of conservatism rely on this concept of individual responsibility and achievement. To retreat from that concept, and blame other cultures, races, and religions for the wrongs of society, is cowardly. It is a convenient escape from responsibility, and allows the wrong men to appeal to the worst of human emotions.
In the same way that German socialists gained power by appealing to these emotions of fear, distrust, and blind loyalty, so the “alt-right” hoped to convert the Republican Party to one of nationalism and fascism. Having failed in this mission, their only option is to go public, taking perceived injustices into their own hands.
For these people, sunlight is the best disinfectant. Exercising their freedom to assemble and speak their minds is a chance for them to be exposed as representing the same evils of the past. The anger their ideas appeal to apparently drove one man to commit murder on the streets of Charlottesville this weekend, though his motives haven’t yet been publicized.
Their philosophies are indefensible. Conservatives should continue to make clear that the “alt-right,” despite their name, is a perverse and dangerous movement that does not represent conservatism.
White supremacy was virtually eradicated from our country generations ago. These racists are not conservative, nor are they “conserving” anything. They are trying to bring back something that was already destroyed.
Kassy Dillon is a senior at Mount Holyoke College studying International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies. She is the MHC College Republican president and she is also the founder of LoneConservative.com. She can be found on Twitter at @KassyDillon.
The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.