Chided by a woman on Facebook for my blog of 3/20/17, she informed me that the terms “alt-right” and alt-left” belong to the Nazi era and had no place in a discussion about the extreme right and left in American politics. Her comment revealed she’d done little reading on the subject. Thumbing through the newest pages of mainstream magazines like Harper’s, Mother Jones, or Foreign Affairs would have told her the “alt” word is alive and well.
In fact, I’d go farther than I did in my earlier blog. I’d argue the alt-right has captured the religious right and turned it into a political party. How else do we explain, as Randall Balmer, religious professor at Dartmouth observes, that Born Again Christians can turn their backs on family values to support a “thrice-married, self-confessed sexual predator.” (“Amazing Grace,” by Sarah Posner, New Republic, April 2017, pg. 34.) Evangelicals might have an abhorrence of abortion, but writer Sarah Posner adds, the seeds for their conversion to the political right were planted in 1970-80s, when the IRS revoked the tax exempt status of Bob Jones University and other Christian schools because they refused non-white admissions. (Ibid, pg. 35.) “By openly embracing the racists of the alt-right, Trump effectively played to the religious right’s own roots in white supremacy.” (Ibid, pg. 35.)
Nathan Strickland, of the Faith and Heritage blog, “a webzine presenting the views of Occidental Christians who are determined to preserve both Western Civilization and Western Peoples,” hopes Posner is right. He sees the current movement within the religious right as one that will not only cleanse the nation of non-western influences, but will also lead to the implementation of Biblical law – including stoning – in every facet of American life. At the core of ultra conservative Christianity in this country is the belief that all men are not created equal. (Ibid, pg. 36.) Trump is supported by the religious right not because of his spiritual beliefs but because religious conservatives see in him their hope hat the country will return to its history of white supremacy.
Not all Evangelicals agree with this goal. Some have tried to stem the tide but the appeal of a “tribal marker” has already surged. (Ibid pg. 35.)
The alt-left differs from the alt-right because they favor inclusion rather than exclusion. But the two ideologies share a distrust of and a desire to overturn the “establishment,” meaning capitalist, bankers and government. Were these two “alts” ever to coalesce around their perceived common enemy, revolution would be hard to resist. The nation might be “cleansed” by the fire of their mutual righteousness but they haven’t enough good will between them to put the country back together again, just as the two political parties have failed. Those of us determined to hold the middle can’t afford to be passive. We must oppose these “alt” trends, and we begin by seeing them as a present danger.