‘Alt-Right’ Movement

March 17, 2017 • Volume 27, Issue 11
Do its white-nationalist views have wide support?
By Marcia Clemmitt


Spreading Influence?

Whether the alt-right can expand its online influence to win more real-world support for its views is still unknown. Also unknown — and worrisome to many — is whether the alt-right's race-oriented politics will lead to social disruption or violent pushback from other groups.

“White supremacists in the alt-right are fringe still,” says the ADL's Mayo. “A few different groups are trying to meet and do real-world events, but those efforts are mostly just beginning.”

The alt-right may pin most hope for expanding its support base on online trolling of people they disagree with and on speeches and writings from provocateurs such as Yiannopoulos, the former Breitbart editor who recently resigned over tapes in which he appeared to approve of sex between men and underage boys.91

Yiannopoulos and some other provocateurs friendly to the movement “are not white nationalists but try to be outrageous about the same issues to get a rise out of people,” Mayo says. “The thought is that if you attract people by criticizing politically correct views, you may be able to gradually nudge them” into adopting more extreme racist and misogynist political views, she says. “I think that would be a small percentage of people, but it could happen.”

Unlike the alt-right, advocacy groups with true clout “have think tanks, policy papers [and] people on congressional staffs,” says the University of Alabama's Hawley. The alt-right has “already put themselves on the radar in ways that the far right hasn't previously been able to do. But it's not clear how they would get additional resources [and] support. It's possible that they've already accomplished all they're ever going to.”

While the alt-right's online presence has gained it some young followers, it's also not clear whether exclusionary, isolationist politics will be as attractive to younger generations as they have sometimes been to older ones, says Levin of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. In general, “Millennials are far more tolerant than their grandparents.”

The attempts at relationship building carried out by the alt-right and European far-right parties could be a sign of desperation, says Ibish of the Arab Gulf States Institute. “They all want a movement because they know they're a minority, so if they don't go international, really become a worldwide movement, they're likely to die.”

But Ibish says that may be more easily said than done. “How do you make an international movement of nationalists?” he says. And the differences among groups are substantial, in both the European far right and in the U.S. alt-right. “Some are anti-Semitic, some accept Jews but are very anti-Islam; some accept gays and others don't. The differences seem large. And the more they try to work in unison, the more they're likely to find it harder than they imagine,” Ibish says.

The threat of violence from extremists on the right and left is real, says Levin. “The progressive left is now out of power, and with the absence of leadership there we have a fringe of the hard left — the anti-fascists, the Marxists — who believe that resistance should be violent” he says. “Will there be a coalescence of the hard violent left in response” to the rise of alt-right ideas or to policies put in place by an alt-right-friendly Trump administration? “We just don't know.”

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[91] For background, see Shikha Dalmia, “Conservatives Made Their Bed With Milo, Now They Have to Lie In It,” Reason, Feb. 26, 2017,

91. For background, see Shikha Dalmia, “Conservatives Made Their Bed With Milo, Now They Have to Lie In It,” Reason, Feb. 26, 2017,

Document APA Citation — See Alternate Citation Style
Clemmitt, M. (2017, March 17). ‘Alt-Right’ Movement. CQ researcher, 27, 241-264. Retrieved from
Document ID: cqresrre2017031707
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ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Racism and Hate
Mar. 17, 2017  ‘Alt-Right’ Movement
Jan. 08, 2016  Racial Conflict
Sep. 18, 2015  Far-Right Extremism
Nov. 22, 2013  Racial Profiling
May 08, 2009  Hate Groups
Jun. 01, 2007  Shock Jocks Updated
Jan. 07, 1994  Racial Tensions in Schools
Jan. 08, 1993  Hate Crimes
May 12, 1989  The Growing Danger of Hate Groups
Nov. 05, 1969  American History: Reappraisal and Revision
Mar. 31, 1965  Extremist Movements in Race and Politics
May 13, 1964  Racism in America
Dec. 03, 1958  Spread of Terrorism and Hatemongering
Jul. 10, 1946  Ku Klux Klan
Jan. 09, 1945  Race Equality
Dec. 19, 1933  Lynching and Kidnapping
Campaigns and Elections
Conservatism and Liberalism
Freedom of Speech and Press
Hate Groups
Internet and Social Media
Party Politics
Powers and History of the Presidency
Race and Hate Crimes
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