The satisfying collapse of the alt-right

By Jonathon Van Maren

After a four-year investigation, The Atlantic has released their first feature documentaryWhite Noise: Inside the Racist Right. By the end of the film, however, one gets the distinct sense that a more accurate title might be The Rise and Fall of the Racist Right. The film is bookended by scenes that warn of a rising white-nationalist movement, but the documentary actually tells a different story — the tale of the alt-right’s brief moment of euphoria, their bitter sense of betrayal at Donald Trump’s presidency, and their disillusionment and collapse.

Interestingly, of the three figures followed by filmmaker Daniel Lombroso, only one of them is a self-described white nationalist: Richard Spencer, the alleged thought leader of the alt-right and one of the founders of AltRight.com. Mike Cernovich, a lifestyle coach-turned Trumpian conspiracy theorist, and Lauren Southern, the Canadian YouTube star who discovered the lucrative nature of being an attractive right-wing American troll, have been dubbed “alt-light” by the truly dedicated racists of America’s white-nationalist underground. Both were willing to flirt with the dark forces to build a following; neither fully took the plunge.

With the exception of the murder of Heather Heyer, a protester killed at the white-nationalist rallies in Charlottesville in August 2017 when a neo-Nazi drove his car into a crowd, much of the alt-right’s battles with Antifa and other leftists isn’t street warfare so much as Weimar Berlin cosplay. The alt-right and the far left feed off of one another. The opposing sides confirm each other’s worldviews and conveniently provide each other evidence for the extreme premises each use to justify violence, racism, and prejudice. White Noise provides one microcosmic example of this: Mike Cernovich informing an audience that the hashtag #killallwhitemen was to justify the alt-right theory that “diversity is white genocide.”

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