Speed Reads


'Alt-left' isn't a thing

"What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right?" President Trump asked the "fake news" media at his Trump Tower press conference on Tuesday, where he blamed "both sides" for the violence at a "Unite the Right" demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.

"Alt-right" is a thing, a term adopted by white nationalists as a more palatable term of art for white supremacy, and embraced by its best-known progenitor, Richard Spencer, and Breitbart News, the media organization recently led by Trump's chief strategist, Stephen Bannon. "Alt-left," as Trump called it, isn't a thing. The groups who showed up to protest the swasitka-waving neo-Nazis, hooded Klansmen, and khaki-pantsed white supremacists were a diverse bunch that prominently featured about 100 Christian ministers in clerical garb, angry Charlottesville residents, peace advocates, Black Lives Matter activists, and self-styled anti-fascists who call themselves "antifas," which sounds as much like "antiphon" as a fascist-fighting collective.

You can disagree with the fight-force-with-force tactics of the "antifas" — many people on the left do — but fighting against fascism didn't used to be controversial. And as for Trump's "very nice people" on the alt-right who were just there to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, as decided by the democratically elected government of Charlottesville, "the ad promoting the 'Unite the Right' rally, which ran on far-right websites all week, did not even mention the statue," notes John Podhoretz in the New York Post. "It was designed to evoke a Fascist poster with birds similar to the Nazi eagle in the sky over the marchers and Confederate flags taking the place of swastikas." Since Trump says he "likes to know the facts" before "making a statement," he might read the whole article.

There are two sides, kind of, as Trump said, but they aren't both "alt," and they aren't the same — just ask the last two men to run for president as the standard-bearers for Trump's party. Peter Weber