I have been writing about the alt-right since the movement—which has since largely collapsed—surged onto the political scene back in 2015. Back then, the phrase “alt-right” actually meant something, referring primarily to a handful of fringe figures who gained substantial followings by attaching themselves to populist issues largely eschewed by the mainstream and combining artful trolling with the resurrection of ancient anti-Semitic tropes, “race realism,” overt white supremacy, and, usually, ugly, sexualized misogyny. While most of these figures eventually faded from the scene (Milo Yiannopoulos, Faith Goldy), lost relevancy in the wake of fiascos like the Charlottesville riot (Richard Spencer), or changed their minds (Lauren Southern), a few—like Nick Fuentes—still have an Internet following and are working to network their way back into influence.
It is important for genuine conservatives and traditionalists to guard our right flank because, as I’ve written before, figures like Fuentes and similarly poisonous commentators have the ability to tap into existing frustrations—especially amongst young men—while utilizing the language of faith, flag, and family. It is essential that we call out genuine racism and hatred where it actually exists. This, of course, has been made much more difficult due to the fact that progressives refer to anyone who disagrees with them as racist, “alt-right,” or “far-right.” Now, anyone who holds views that were mainstream circa 2000 is, by the standards of politicians like Joe Biden or Justin Trudeau and plenty of media outlets, “far-right.”
This needs to be called out, and consistently. When the media refers (as they very often have) to people like Jordan Peterson as “alt-right,” they are not delegitimizing Peterson—instead, by applying this label falsely, they are assisting in the legitimization of people with genuinely repulsive views. A case in point would be a recent report in the Guardian titled “‘Better martyrs’: the growing role of women in the far-right movement.” Based on the title, you’d think this was an exposé of…well, far-right or alt-right women. That’s how the piece starts:
Researchers who track how the far right in the US mobilizes, self-promotes and recruits are reporting that women are playing a growing role in the movement. They often work behind the scenes to advance conspiracy theories through social media and softly attract new women into the fold. But at the same time, in recent years “alt-right” women have also shifted to influential public-facing roles in rightwing media production and far-right national politics.
So who qualifies as “far-right”? Well, Fox News commentator Tomi Lahren, apparently. Which is ridiculous—Lahren is a libertarian who supports both abortion and LGBT rights while carefully staking out a handful of positions on issues like Drag Queen Story Hour in order to avoid totally alienating social conservatives. She’s not only not “far-right,” she’s barely “right”—she’s a media grifter without any discernible principles beyond social progressivism and issues that play well for the camera. The Guardian also cites Lauren Southern as “far-right,” although any journalist paying any attention would note the mutual disavowal between Southern and the crowd she once ran with years ago already. Like Lahren, she is the sort of blond talking head some right-wing media outlets love to hire, but has very little to say that is particularly insightful.
But there’s more:
Even so-called “Tradwives” – such as the TikToker Estee Williams, who promotes strict adherence to traditional gender roles – generate income from their social media content. The Global Network on Extremism & Technology recently linked Tradwives to “alt-lite” and “alt-right” ideologies.
Again, Estee Williams is a TikTok influencer who promotes a 1950s aesthetic for clicks. Listen to any interview with her—she doesn’t have any well-thought out philosophy, much less an “alt-right” one. A bare minimum of research would reveal that the idea of Williams as some sort of ideologue is, to put it kindly, a joke. Any alleged researcher or journalist threatened by tradwife cosplay is telling us a lot more about themselves and their own insecurities than this “movement” and the makeup aficionados playing dress-up for social media clout.
The Guardian also cites “far-right mothers” sucked into the Qanon orbit as well as those who attended the Jan 6 rally/riot, with a heavy focus on Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is an idiot elevated in large part due to the mainstream media’s focus on her. But partway through the report is the real target of the investigation:
Another growing power on the far right is Moms for Liberty, a group that began as a small parents’ rights group but which has spread across the US and is a leading force in promoting book bans. The group – with a fervent membership of conservative mothers – aims to affect US education, attacking anything that meddles with the far-right view of what is suitable for bringing up children, said Llanera of the University of Connecticut. “Mothers protect their offspring, out of the private sphere where they are most relevant,” she added.
Iowyth Ulthiin, a PhD student at Toronto Metropolitan University and researcher at Lakehead University, explained that rightwing sects will use a broad appeal to a general issue like children’s safety in order to spread far-right ideas.
“Who doesn’t love children and want them to be safe?” Ulthiin said.
That’s a great question. Moms for Liberty (you can read about them here) has become a target of the progressive press because they are advocating for parental rights in education—holding school boards and staff accountable for what children are being taught; demanding transparency from state schools; insisting that graphic sex education is inappropriate for children. Those “book bans” the Guardian is talking about? That’s parents insisting that how-to sex manuals and explicit LGBT indoctrinations should not be part of libraries or curriculums. That isn’t “far-right”—that’s something most Democrats would have supported not so long ago. But calling these concerned moms, who are taking action at the local level to ensure local accountability, “alt-right” is a smear tactic designed to classify essential political engagement as Nazi tactics.
The far-right really does exist. Influencers such as Nick Fuentes really are promoting vile ideas. But what the Guardian and these hack researchers are doing is not drawing attention to genuinely insidious elements. They are trying, instead, to push concerned parents and Christians into the same category as Fuentes, damning them by association and blunting their political clout and grassroots activism. It is disgusting—and they are serving the interests of actual far-right figures by doing so.