Donald Trump’s transition from real estate developer and reality TV start to leader of the free world is underway, and it’s created an explosion of new terms/terms we haven’t heard in quite some time. Here, we break it down.
The term alt-right—which was coined by Richard Spencer in 2008—is a “mix of racism, white nationalism, and old-fashioned populism,” according to The Associated Press. While the alt-right consists of a variety of different groups, they broadly oppose the conservative establishment as well as traditional liberal values. Their “greatest points of unity,” NPR explained, “lies in what they are against: multiculturalism, immigration, feminism and, above all, political correctness.”
The alt-right is composed mainly of white male millennials with a college education, according to according to George Hawley, a political scientist at the University of Alabama, who is writing a book about the alt-right movement. There are some women involved with the alt-right, Hawley told The Washington Post, but “this movement in particular is more appealing to men, particularly given the degree to which it is also a very outspoken anti-feminist movement.”
Members of the alt right have embraced Donald Trump, who see him as an ally in the White House, if not an outright supporter. His campaign CEO (and now chief advisor) Steve Bannon was chairman of the website Breitbart News, which he once called “the platform for the alt right.”
In November, the National Policy Institute, a group founded by Richard Spencer that advocates “white identity,” held a conference in Washington, D.C., where, at one point, Spencer said: “Hail Trump. Hail our people. Hail victory!” The room burst into applause as some people raised their hands in the Nazi salute, according to a video captured by The Atlantic.
But Trump has tried to distance himself from the movement. In a meeting Tuesday with editors and reporters of The New York Times, Trump said of the alt-right: “I don’t want to energize the group, and I disavow the group.”
White nationalists comprise the alt right, but they’re also a group unto themselves. For many people, white nationalism is just another term of white supremacist or neo-Nazi, although CNN points out that white nationalists have tried to distance themselves from traditional hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan.
Eric Kaufmann, a professor of politics at Birkbeck University in London, told The New York Times that white nationalism is “the belief that national identity should be built around white ethnicity, and that white people should therefore maintain both a demographic majority and dominance of the nation’s culture and public life.”