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How should we view the Alt-Right and other Nationalist movements?

By Chris Peeks September 04, 2023

Like a fishing lure bobbing in and out of the water over the last few years, the term Alt-Right continues to rear its head. At first glance, the name is very eye-catching. Like most, as with everyone else, racism or xenophobia pops to mind. Is it fair to make a rush to judgment by classifying all members of the Alternative Right as racist? What exactly is racism? Can racism only be described in the simplest terms? Meaning is racism, or sexism, or Islamophobia, what have you, only relegated to discrimination of other groups, or does it go further in that just promoting an identifier is racist?

To attempt to answer these questions regarding racism, we must first examine the origins of fascism, which many have used to define the Alt-Right movement. This is an excerpt from Webster's definition of fascism: "often capitalizeda political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual."

It further goes on to say, "The words fascism and fascist have long been associated with the Fascisti of Benito Mussolini and the fasces, the bundle of rods with an ax among them, which the Fascisti used as a symbol of the Italian people united and obedient to the single authority of the state. However, Mussolini did not introduce the word fascista (plural fascisti) with the 1919 organization of the Fasci di combattimento (“combat groups”), nor did the fasces have any direct connection with the origin of fascista. In Italian, the word fascio (plural fasci) means literally “bundle,” and figuratively “group.” From at least 1872, fascia was used in the names of labor and agrarian unions. In October 1914, a political coalition was formed called the Fasciorivoluzionario d’ azione internazionalista (“revolutionary group for international action”), which advocated Italian participation in World War I on the Allies' side. Members of this group were first called fascists in January 1915. Although Mussolini was closely associated with this interventionist movement, it had no direct link with the post-war Fasci di combattimento, and in 1919 the word fascista was already in political circulation. It is, however, to the Fascisti in their 1919 incarnation—who seized power in Italy three years later—that we owe the current customary meanings of our words fascism and fascist."

That's a lot to take in. We first date the

 term to the 1870s with a direct link to populism. According to Oxford, populism is "a political approach that strives to appeal to ordinary people who feel that established elite groups disregard their concerns."

One common denominator from Andrew Jackson, the "People's President," to George Wallace to Ross Perot to Donald Trump, has been to return the power to the people. So, does this make the Populism movement racist?

Not at all. To take that position is racist in itself in that they are looking at populism only from a Euro-centric view. To reach that conclusion, one must believe that racism only exists with people of European descent or, to put it, "white people."

 I know this is hard for many to accept, but racism or xenophobia exists within all races, religions, creeds, etc

However, progressives refuse to acknowledge this, focusing only on the atrocities committed by whites. To be fair, there are probably reasons behind this. For one, these are the only ones you get told about. And they're much more numerical.

The African slave trade is one of history's black marks. But the entire picture is never examined as a whole as it is simply looked at through a Euro-centric 1861-1865 prism. The only thing taught is that the demise of The Confederacy ended slavery. Yeah, in the United States.

 Little attention is paid to the fact that King Ferdinand issued the first license to start the slave trade in 1501, and zero is paid to the fact that slavery is alive and well in Africa today. Furthermore, slavery still exists in 48% of countries in the world, and everyone ignores human trafficking, which grows daily right under the nose of modern society. Yet a handful of men from the 1860s are made to pay for all the ills of slavery.

By the time of the U.S. Civil War, slavery had become engrained as part of the American way of life. It is easy to look back on 1860 in 2023 goggles and say slavery is wrong and should have been abolished. Fair enough. How do you propose they did this? Slavery amounted to 74 million dollars in the Southern economy, which equates to almost 2.8 trillion in today's money. Yeah, they weren't letting that go without a fight.

Why is this all we hear about? Again Euro-centralism. Islamic populism has developed from resistance against national authority. Though not of the same volume, are the xenophobic horrors committed in the Islamic world not as grotesque as the ones by Hitler? Draw your own conclusions.

To further examine the racism of populism, let's look at another movement that no one wants to discuss. Black Lives Matter. Is this not a group borne of racial populism? Seeking to take power from the white elites and give it to the black people? Social justice warriors? Or racist trying to promote black superiority while railing against White supremacists?

I guess that's in the eye of the beholder. One man's ceiling is another man's floor. Have you looked at their website? They claim police were formed from slave patrols. Wait, what? So, there was no Law enforcement before slave patrols, or did it not exist in regions without slavery?

What is the tie between racism and populism across the spectrum from Islam to George Wallace to BLM? I thought you might ask that, Nationalism. To most, the word spurns images of Klan robes, Confederate flags, and Nazi rallies. No one ever thinks of Malcolm X, a black nationalist who practiced Islam.

Black nationalism does not get the same exposure as white nationalism because of the magnitude. To get to the root of all this, one must ask themselves a tricky question and give an honest answer.

Is preserving a shared identity a bad thing? Queer Nationalism is defined as a phenomenon related to gay and lesbian liberation, yet they are not demonized as the Alt-Right. Only white nationalism is because of the elements of white supremacy that have used acts of Terror throughout history.

Let me try to sum this up. It's OK  to be proud to be white. It's OK to be proud to be black. It's OK to be proud to be gay. It's not okay to use your pride to weaponize. All nationalists are not racist, but all racists are nationalists, which means that being an Alt-Right member is no more wrong than being a member of BLM or a Islamic populist. If so, then they are all wrong.

So, to answer the original question about racism, If promoting white nationalism is racism, then promoting any nationalism is racism. You can't have it both ways. So before you start in on the Alt-Right, you must hold other nationalist movements to the same standards.

Chris Peeks

Reporter and Columnist

Alabama Political Contributor


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