WASHINGTON – With the rise of American identity politics, leading writers from the Atlantic discussed the alt-right ideology and it’s future on a Monday evening panel. Speaking before a packed audience at the 6th and I Synagogue, Graeme Wood explained, “Alt-right felt very aggrieved in being rejected by neo-conservatism and forms of the right that look upon them as a bunch of racists. When they call themselves alternative it is to reject versions of the right that were especially based on ideas about free market and instead, Spencer specifically it’s a different type of emphasis on identity.”
Commenting on the usage of “American First” to describe the President’s foreign policy, editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg emphasized, “There’s politically correct and there’s Nazi slogans, right? It’s true that human beings can get used to anything but when a leading candidate for President of the US hears a Nazi-ish slogan and continues to use it, that’s a relatively novel experience in modern American politics.”
Rosie Gray explained that one of the challenges of covering the alt-right was that there is no actual statistical data quantifying the number of alt-right American activists. Interestingly, she clarified that senior White House Advisor Steve Bannon shouldn’t be characterized as part of the alt-right movement. “Under his (Bannon) leadership, Breitbart has shown itself as alt-right curious but I wouldn’t lump Steve Bannon with Richard Spencer,” Gray said.
At the same time, the panelists stressed the current divisions between the Trump administration and the alt-right movement. “The most important precipitating event of that break is Trump’s strike against Bashar al-Assad in Syria. One of the things that Spencer feels very strongly about is the heroism of Vladimir Putin. So, anything that suggests that there is a break between Trump and Russia, those are things that Spencer will happily open hostilities with the Trump administration,” Wood noted.
When asked which member of the Trump administration appears to be most receptive to hardcore nationalist ideas, Gray selected Stephen Miller, the former Congressional aide to Senator Jeff Sessions. “Do they (alt-right) know that he’s (Steven Miller) Jewish?” Goldberg quipped.
Even within the movement’s infighting and some of the administration’s challenges, Wood pointed out that the alt-right genuinely appreciates the current commander in chief. “Richard Spencer said I’ll always be grateful to Donald Trump because even if he loses the election, even if his Presidency is a failure, he’s the one who allowed us to talk about issues that the alt-right cares about, like the identity of America as a white Christian and issues like the criminal cabals that have been running this country for the last 20 years,” Wood said.