The “Alt-Right” Menace Persists, Despite Setbacks

The failures of far-right white nationalist rallies over the last month are significant as a barometer for telling us where we stand as a country. The reactionary “Patriot Prayer” and “Proud Boy” groups failed to galvanize a mass turnout in their “Freedom March,” in Portland in early August, with only 400 supporters attending, in comparison to more than a thousand counter-protesters. Similarly, the turnout at the “Unite the Right 2” rally in Washington D.C., organized by Jason Kessler as a follow up to the Charlottesville, VA rally last year, saw just 30 people attend, and they were militantly opposed by thousands of counter-protesters.

These anemic turnouts suggest that the “alt-right” – and white supremacists more generally – are increasingly marginalized in American political culture, and that they are on the defensive in the face of a significant public counter-mobilization that has included both violent (Antifa) and non-violent components. None of this is to suggest that the threat of reactionary politics has subsided. As an ABC-Washington Post poll from August 2017 found, one-in-ten Americans, or 22 million people, said they were supporters of the “alt-right” movement, and claimed it is “acceptable” to hold neo-Nazi, white supremacist views. And these numbers may be an underestimate. In a national survey I designed that was administered in January 2018, I asked Americans across the nation what they thought of the “alt-right” or…

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