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Alternative evils

The growing alt-right and antifa movements peddle poisonous messages that contradict Christian and American values

Alternative evils

LEFT: White supremacists in Charlottesville; RIGHT: “Anti-fascist” counterprotesters in Charlottesville.(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images (left) and Steve Helber/AP)

Long before Richard Spencer grabbed national attention at the tumultuous August “Unite the Right” rally led by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va., he’d been spinning his vision of superiority and racism under the banner of the “alt-right,” or “alternative right,” for years.

If the term “alt-right” seems vague, that’s because it often serves as a broad banner for loosely connected groups promoting a range of views rooted in race-based ideologies.

White supremacists peddle the notion that other races are inherently inferior to whites. White nationalists sometimes deny they’re white supremacists, but they push for a societal structure based on racial categories. They see a person’s identity as fundamentally rooted in his race and urge white people to band together for what they see as their common good.

Such views are antithetical to Christian teaching: God creates all men in His own image, and our identity is rooted first in our Creator, not in our race. Christ breaks down dividing walls between races by saving people from every tribe, tongue, and nation.

Spencer’s fundamental message isn’t about border protection or legitimate questions about immigration levels. Instead, he hails white people as the rightful owners of America and dismisses the value of other groups.

As he gave a speech last fall to supporters of his organization, the National Policy Institute, a crowd of white men hailed Spencer with Nazi salutes and cheered when he declared: “America was until this past generation a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity. It is our creation, it is our inheritance, and it belongs to us.”

Regarding race relations, Spencer added: “We don’t exploit other groups. We don’t gain anything from their presence. They need us, and not the other way around.”

That’s not a new idea, and John West of the Discovery Institute, a conservative think tank, notes the ideology of white supremacists is often rooted in another historical theory: evolution.

Evolutionary hero Charles Darwin offered his racial theory in The Descent of Man: “The Western nations of Europe … now so immeasurably surpass their former savage progenitors and stand at the summit of civilization.” He added: “The civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races.”

West says Darwin’s writings make clear he thought African blacks and Australian Aborigines were lowest on the evolutionary scale of humans, and his notion of natural selection predicted races would be unequal: “In Darwin’s theory we are not the result of some beneficent plan or Creator, we’re really the result of this process of survival of the fittest.”

That theory fueled the eugenics movement in the early 20th century and led to dozens of U.S. states passing laws to allow the forced sterilization of citizens deemed unfit to reproduce. Other states passed laws forbidding mixed marriages.

Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger embraced eugenic ideas and thought birth control was the best way to prevent what she and other eugenicists considered undesirable populations (often the lower class, poor, or disabled).

After Adolf Hitler embraced eugenics and slaughtered millions of people he deemed undesirable, most scientists began rejecting the use of Darwin’s theory to promote racist ideas. But the seeds remain embedded in Darwin’s writings, and West says some modern-day supremacists have co-opted his theory as part of their own racist views.

Most people in the so-called “alt-right” don’t issue public calls for violence, but the ideas of supremacists are still dangerous, including the rejection of the pro-life movement by some. A presumably pseudonymous writer in the alt-right journal Radix, Aylmer Fisher, warned in a column against succumbing to the “pro-life temptation.”

Spencer, who says he’s an atheist, has criticized the pro-life movement for promoting human rights: “You do not have some human right, some abstract thing given to you by God or the world or something like that. You’re part of a community, and that’s where you gain your meaning or your rights.”

In an online video, he lamented that “smart people” are the only ones using contraception and said intelligent people don’t normally use abortion as birth control: “Smart people are using abortion when you have a situation like Down syndrome or … the health of the mother is at risk. I would say that it is the unintelligent and blacks and Hispanics who use abortion as birth control.”

Spencer warned his supporters to be “genuinely suspicious of people who think in terms of human rights and who are interested in adopting African children and bringing them to this country.” Abortion, he added, isn’t “this kind of ‘good or evil’ binary that the pro-life movement and the Christian movement want to use. We need to be more adult than they are.”

POST-CHARLOTTESVILLE, members of white nationalist and white supremacist groups have said they’ll gather for rallies again. They’ll likely continue to face counterprotests from Americans opposed to their noxious ideology. Counterprotesters may also include those who have a much broader agenda than protesting racism.

Among the counterprotesters throwing punches in Charlottesville were supporters of the radical movement known as “antifa”—an abbreviation of the term “anti-fascist.”

Antifa activists showed up in force in Charlottesville, and New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg tweeted after the chaos: “The hard left seemed as hate-filled as the alt-right. I saw club-wielding ‘antifa’ beating white nationalists being led out of the park.”

Much like the term “alt-right,” the label “antifa” is an umbrella for groups of radical leftists. While they gained attention for protests in Charlottesville, they’ve also created a brand out of opposing legitimate conservative thought.

In April, the group Direct Action Alliance opposed the Multnomah County Republican Party participating in Portland’s annual Rose Festival. (They claimed fascists planned to infiltrate the group, according to a report in The Atlantic.) The group told supporters, “Nazis will not march through Portland unopposed.”

The group Oregon Students Empowered chimed in on Facebook: “Shut down fascism! No Nazis in Portland!” After receiving anonymous threats of violence if the Republicans marched, organizers canceled the parade. At a June 4 rally organized by Trump supporters, antifa activists threw bricks until police dispersed them.

Two weeks after the Charlottesville violence, crowds of protesters, including antifa demonstrators, forced the cancellation of free speech rallies in San Francisco and Berkeley, Calif. Some protesters openly attacked and beat Trump supporters they found.

Though antifa isn’t a centralized movement, similar protests have broken out at other conservative events. In March, a mob of students and protesters drove out conservative author Charles Murray from a speaking engagement at Middlebury College in Vermont. The crowd shouted down Murray, pulled a fire alarm, and surrounded his car as he left. Some in the group attacked a Middlebury professor accompanying Murray, pulling her hair and injuring her neck.

The crowd chanted: “Charles Murray, go away! Racist, sexist, anti-gay!”

That chant vocalizes a primary tactic of the antifa movement: Lump together any groups you oppose and accuse them all of being hate-filled. The convoluted logic: If antifa opposes both white supremacists and traditional marriage proponents, then proponents of traditional marriage must also embrace white supremacy.

That kind of logic has already played out in other settings, but it could increase if antifa protests continue. Even as the Southern Poverty Law Center condemned white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan, it has continued to label several evangelical organizations as “hate groups” alongside them.

Meanwhile, antifa activists seem determined to continue demonstrations. In an article published online before the Charlottesville violence, The Atlantic commented on the goal of the chaos:

“As members of a largely anarchist movement, antifascists don’t want the government to stop white supremacists from gathering. They want to do so themselves, rendering the government impotent.”

Jamie Dean

Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the political beat and other topics as national editor for WORLD Magazine. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.

Comments

  • DWBrown
    Posted: Fri, 09/01/2017 08:07 am

    A guy told me he watched someone interviewd in Charlottesville that said he saw several buses come into town and people with black lives matter and kkk on their t-shirts get off the same bus. I would love to know if that is true and if so lets ask our news media why they are no telling that to the American people. We Christians no why they aren't, hate and lies are the devils main tools. It has been proved that past demonstrations are pushed and paid for without the television news media telling the truth of how Americans are being deceived. Evil is yelling in America to keep the simple and young from turning to Christ and this Nation returning to the Blessed prosperous Country we once were.Evil had a grip on America for the last eight years and does not want to see the Christian foundation blocks it has kicked out of this Country put back.

  • Hans's picture
    Hans
    Posted: Fri, 09/01/2017 12:34 pm

    There have been a number of people who have been identified as white supremacists by their public presence at this rally who have then given full voice in support of their hateful ideology. They are, judging from my lifetime in conservative circles, outliers, but they are not fake. I have personally encountered a number of people who express this ideology over the years--again, rare, but not unheard of, and that's just the circle of people I have interacted with. Suggesting that their presence is a false flag or raising the spectre of the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy (financed by George Soros, I'm sure) on the basis of thirdhand hearsay is just irresponsible. No liberal paid Alex Fields to murder, just like no liberal pays Richard Spencer to be who he is, or the writers for The Daily Stormer to be who they are.

  • John Kloosterman
    Posted: Fri, 09/01/2017 10:35 pm

    "A guy told me he saw someone else say that he saw these two shirts."

    Kudos for admitting your sources, but you realize how incredibly unreliable this is, right? 

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Tue, 09/05/2017 10:57 am

    Are you guys watching the MSM? Yes there is a major propaganda campaign going on here to give the appearance that all conservatives are racists neo-Nazis or white supremacists. But then again, I don't know if you would classify yourself as conservatives based on some of your posts. Soros and his son are haters of Christians, so it would not surprise me in the least if they were behind this in some fashion.  There is no question that he has been behind many other conspiracies.

  • JerryM
    Posted: Fri, 09/01/2017 06:35 pm

    It would be worth mentioning that the antifa, who claim to be anti-facist and -hate in their rhetoric, are behaving as both facists and haters in their actions. 

  • John Kloosterman
    Posted: Fri, 09/01/2017 10:36 pm

    It was mentioned?  Already?  Up there?

  • Steve Shive
    Posted: Sat, 09/02/2017 05:09 am

    "'A guy told me he saw someone else say that he saw these two shirts.'"

    Kudos for admitting your sources, but you realize how incredibly unreliable this is, right?"

    John Kloosterman I do not see this quote anywhere in the article or the comments. Where does it come from? There are references to eyewitnesses but not this quote that you do put in "... " 

    Or are you referring to the general idea of being cautious with sources, which of course would mean that you shouldn't use quotes, unless your source had those specific words. Caution with comments is always advisable. Maybe I'm missing something?

     

  • Steve Shive
    Posted: Sat, 09/02/2017 05:10 am

    BTW Jamie I enjoyed your article and found it helpful. 

  • Hans's picture
    Hans
    Posted: Sat, 09/02/2017 05:36 am

    He is responding to the first comment, which, among other problematic assertions, leveled criticism at the media for not reporting extensively on something that his friend told him he heard someone interviewed had claimed.

    My favorite part of such comments is the "if it's true, why haven't we heard more about it?!" Well, the most obvious explanation is already included in the question--because it's false!

  • Steve Shive
    Posted: Sat, 09/02/2017 07:06 am

    Thanks Hans for adding your assumptions to the mix. My point is that when you put something in quotes then that must appear somewhere and you are referencing that specific point. That quote appears nowhere in the article. You are assuming you know what he meant. I guess. If one refers to the general concept or tone of an article then I wouldn't expect to see a reference to a nonexistent quote. 

  • Brendan Bossard's picture
    Brendan Bossard
    Posted: Sat, 09/02/2017 08:12 am

    Steve, John was summarizing the spirit of what DWBrown posted, using a common idiom.  Isn't it kind of silly to start a debate about how quotation marks should be used, when we are talking about the reality of evil?

  • Hans's picture
    Hans
    Posted: Sat, 09/02/2017 08:54 am

    Seems to be a great deal of confusion here. I was answering your question and then adding my comment on the silliness of DWBrown's comment as well, in which he said he wanted to know whether the conspiracy that both sides were just paid by liberals was true and then intimated that the reason we haven't heard the media discuss more of this is because they are in on it--rather than the most obvious explanation, which is that the conspiracy theory is patently false.

     

    Neither John nor I were responding to something in the article (which was pretty even handed, I might add), but to the first comment on the thread of responses. Nor, for what it's worth, was I critiquing your comment--just anwering your question.

  • John Kloosterman
    Posted: Sun, 09/03/2017 12:37 am

    Hans is completely correct in his interpretation of my comments.  I was paraphrasing the poster above me. Your concern for the accuracy of quotations is laudable, but unsuitable to this specific circumstance.

    I needed to make specific reference to the base of his point (not to the later extrapolations), and I needed to simplify it to essentials to make it clear what the "news media" probable difficulty was.  But I also needed to convey that the simplified idea was not my own--hence the quotes. While you're correct that quotes are often used to denote specific wording, those instances are indicated by specific markers such as (par 6) or (Jaime 54). In the absence of those, quotes can be used, even in the context of an academic paper, as humorous or concise summations, such as if a news article describes Angela Merker as saying "no dice" to negotiations. You yourself recognize this usage in suggesting that I might be making a general comment about cautionary use of sources.

    Internet forums in particular--the specific medium we're currently using--often use quotes to indicate paraphrases, since the original material is a link away. Some, such as reddit, offer means to illustrate the distinction between a quote from a comment and a poster paraphrase of that comment.  Granted, WORLD's forum does not support this feature, so quotes, even unmarked ones, are also generally used to cite specific words from the article.  But all forums readily follow the convention that comments nested under other comments are meant to be in reply to the higher-placed comment, so according to forum etiquette, I thought it would be perfectly clear that my comment was in regards to the poster and not to the article, and in turn, that my comment was a more simplified version of that post. 

    My comment has, in fact, no relation to the WORLD article, except to point out to the original commenter why WORLD and other news magazines were not commenting on the interview the friend of his said he witnessed.  

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Tue, 09/05/2017 02:35 am

    I have a problem with this article because it feeds into the narrative that the left is trying to propagate- that the right are racists and specifically that Trump is a racist.  What I mean is that from reading this article, you would think you have an equivalent evil happening in America with the alt-right and alt-left. This is highly deceptive because most who are called alt-right are not actually racist who hate other races (which was pointed out in the article, somewhat).  The deception is that one would think that the numbers of white supremacists and neo-Nazis is equivalent to the alt-left. This is completely untrue and the real threat to America is the alignment of the Democrats with the extreme fascist left including anarchists, communists, black lives matter people, and other radical groups bent on revolution - similar to Mao in China. Included in this is the MSM which has become an instrument of propaganda rather than real news and the rich radicals which are funding the radical left.  They are subverting our Constitution and seeking to define a "hate speech" which they view legitimizes their fascist actions where they use violence and intimidation to shut down thinking that they don't like. The continued violence and destruction at colleges when any conservative speaks is case in point. Also, the left with Obama sought to subvert the government using the power of government politically. All of this is the real news and the notion that neo-Nazis and white supremacists are the great threat is laughable in comparison. 

    Another point worth making is the Multiculturalists attempt to demonize Western Civilization with its Christian basis. Francis Shaeffer must be "rolling over in his grave" with the lack of defense of Western thought and Culture by some at World.  I would challenge Jamie Dean or any other Christian to read his works to have a solid Christian world view.

  • Hans's picture
    Hans
    Posted: Thu, 09/07/2017 05:01 pm

    Cyborg, you seem very willing to parse the alt right into the racists and non-racists. Why can't you accept that the so-called "alt-left," by which you really mean disorganized anarchist groups like antifa, are not really associated with the mainstream left? We might take as a starting point, for example, how Trevor Noah of The Daily Show refered to them as the "vegan ISIS." The mainstream left has gone way out of their way to distance themselves from anarchist rioters, particularly in light of the absurd violence in Berkley. 

    As far as BLM goes, it's honestly just ridiculous to group them together with antifa. I mean, seriously. You might think that their perspective on race is distorted, but their protesting MO is to sit in the street and block traffic. Annoying? I guess. Facist tactics? Um, no.

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Wed, 09/20/2017 01:19 am

     

    Hans, why are you always the lefts advocate? 

    The Left is all about creating appearances and a narrative to advance their cause. They don't care about the truth and essentially don't believe in truth, which is antithetical to Christianity.  The ends justify the means so the left creates a false narrative that conservatives are racists - who cares about the truth.

    Even if the racists in America are a small fraction, the left gladly will try to inflate their influence to paint a false picture, when in reality their influence is effectively zero.  Nearly all Trump supporters despise racists and want nothing to do with them!  But Trump supporters are lumped under the alt-right which is a very ambiguous phrase meaning different things to different folks.

    Now, you claim that there are no links between the different groups that compose the alt-left and mainstream left. Why do the politicians on the left have the police stand down when the alt-left create violence. It is a convenient way to shut down conservative speech which the mainstream left is all too willing to do.  Just look at Hillary playing up to BLM and all the other radical groups. Essentially, the Democratic Party was taken over by the alt-left - just follow their outrageous accusations against Trump! 

    Yes, shutting down a city by blocking traffic is a power tactic which is fascist at heart. Here is a link that explains fascist tactics:

    https://capitalresearch.org/article/how-fascists-take-power/