Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Normalizing Nazis

This is how the descent begins.

WASHINGTON — By the time Richard B. Spencer, the leading ideologue of the alt-right movement and the final speaker of the night, rose to address a gathering of his followers on Saturday, the crowd was restless.

In 11 hours of speeches and panel discussions in a federal building named after Ronald Reagan a few blocks from the White House, a succession of speakers had laid out a harsh vision for the future, but had denounced violence and said that Hispanic citizens and black Americans had nothing to fear. Earlier in the day, Mr. Spencer himself had urged the group to start acting less like an underground organization and more like the establishment.

But now his tone changed as he began to tell the audience of more than 200 people, mostly young men, what they had been waiting to hear. He railed against Jews and, with a smile, quoted Nazi propaganda in the original German. America, he said, belonged to white people, whom he called the “children of the sun,” a race of conquerors and creators who had been marginalized but now, in the era of President-elect Donald J. Trump, were “awakening to their own identity.”

These are exultant times for the alt-right movement, which was little known until this year, when it embraced Mr. Trump’s campaign and he appeared to embrace it back. He chose as his campaign chairman Stephen K. Bannon, the media executive who ran the alt-right’s most prominent platform, Breitbart News, and then named him as a senior adviser and chief strategist.

Now the movement’s leaders hope to have, if not a seat at the table, at least the ear of the Trump White House.

While many of its racist views are well known — that President Obama is, or may as well be, of foreign birth; that the Black Lives Matter movement is another name for black race rioters; that even the American-born children of undocumented Hispanic immigrants should be deported — the alt-right has been difficult to define. Is it a name for right-wing political provocateurs in the internet era? Or is it a political movement defined by xenophobia and a dislike for political correctness?

Well, first of all, you stop calling them by euphemisms such as “alt-right.”  They are fascists and racists, and the generally accepted term for them is Nazi.  Not because they are currently members of the National Socialist German Workers Party, but because they adhere to everything that movement once used to take over Europe and kill more than 10 million people purely for their racial or ethnic heritage, their sexual orientation, or that they didn’t meet some perverted standard of purity.  (Ironically, based on the photos from this meeting, many of the participants would have been shipped off to camps for their non-Aryan-ness.)

The more we try to put Twitter-length handles on them and make them sound like some kind of offshoot of a normal political or social movement, the more they will be normalized into our society and the more the news outlets like CNN will treat them as legitimate.

They are Nazis, and the press should call them that.

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