• Older white supremacists are adopting the slang of the alt right in an attempt to sound edgy and attract younger members.
• Some white supremacists have created websites designed specifically to attract alt right adherents.
• For racist neo-Confederates, the alt right offers a significant potential source of members, provided they can be converted to white Southern nationalism instead of a more universal form of white supremacy.
A number of white supremacists of long standing are now consciously employing the slang and imagery of the alt right, the newest segment of the white supremacist movement, hoping to remain relevant and to attract the younger racist followers that the alt right has accumulated.
The alt right is a wing of the white supremacist movement that emerged through the melding of white supremacist ideology with a variety of on-line subcultures and audiences, mostly young and mostly male, including image boards and message boards like 4chan and Reddit, the on-line gaming community, the so-called men’s movement, and others.
From these sources, the alt right developed a dense on-line subculture based on shared language, memes, and concepts, from phrases like “redpilling” or “cuckservative” to memes like Pepe the Frog or Wojak.
For the larger white supremacist movement, the alt right offers significant value—especially as a source of new, young racist followers. Many neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan groups have been stagnant or in decline, with new groups getting most of their members from cannibalizing already existing groups or the remnants of groups that have fallen apart. The alt right represents a potential new audience for these older white supremacists, as well as a theoretical source of new followers.
Ever the opportunist, David Duke, the 67-year-old former Klansman, was among the first to attempt to secure part of this new audience. Duke quickly embraced a variety of prominent alt right figures, such as Richard Spencer, Andrew Anglin, and Mike Peinovich (aka Mike Enoch), inviting them to his Internet radio show, appearing on the shows of others, and showing up alongside them at prominent alt right events like the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 11-12.
Duke also now uses alt right slang terms such as “red pill/pilling” (a reference from the movie The Matrix, in the context of the alt right, it refers to people coming to acknowledge and accept white supremacist principles). In August 2017, for example, Duke posted a recording to his site titled “Why Charlottesville was a huge victory and redpill for millions of white Americans!”
Other white supremacists have even created websites designed specifically to attract alt right adherents. One such site is Alt-Right TV, billed as news and video “for the real global minority: white families worldwide.”
The site is the creation of none other than the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (aka Knights Party), a longstanding Ku Klux Klan group headed by Thom Robb, 71 years old. However, the Knights seem far from up-to-date on the patois and memetics of the alt right, settling for the same videos and stories that they post on their other sites, apparently hoping that site’s name will itself be enough of a draw.
White supremacist Kyle Rogers is another veteran white supremacist to develop a website with an eye towards the alt right. Rogers has been the longtime webmaster for the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens, but as that group has suffered a severe decline in recent years, with revenues dropping from nearly $90,000 in 2011 to only$16,000 in 2015, Rogers has spent more time creating other white supremacist websites, such as Conservative Headlines and Stop Hate Crimes, outlets for his fixation on black-on-white crime.
Rogers’ most recent creation is a website dubbed Narrative Collapse, which also focuses on black-on-white crime and other common white supremacist themes. Rogers registered the domain name Pepe-News.com to redirect to the site, while the Facebook page created for Narrative Collapse is actually dubbed “Viva La Pepe.” The “about” section of that page informs visitors that “You to[o] can be Pepe. Join the Pepe Army.”
The bridge between the alt right and another traditional white supremacist group, the League of the South, led by Michael Hill, 66, is even more interesting. The League of the South is a neo-Confederate group that formed in 1994 to promote the notion of an independent South that would be dominated by “Anglo-Celtic” values.
Originally claiming not to be racist, in 2008 Hill and the League abandoned that pretext, increasingly expressing blatant and explicit hardcore white supremacy and anti-Semitism. In so doing, the League lost a number of its older, more moderate members, but gained a new cadre of younger white supremacists who were attracted to its provocative white supremacist message with a Southern twist. Hill, who also attended the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally, brought with him one of the largest contingents from any organized white supremacist group.
For racist neo-Confederates like Hill, the alt right is a big deal and a significant potential source of members, if only they can be converted to white Southern nationalism instead of a more universal form of white supremacy. The 2017 national conference for the League of the South, held in Alabama in June 2017, featured a whole session dubbed “For the Southern People: Southern Nationalism in the Age of the Alt-Right.”
Neo-Confederates have even coined new terms for their Southern-centric version of the alt right: alt south and alt Confederate. The former term, for example, graced League of the South graphics designed to promote the “Unite the Right” event.
At the same time, Hill and the League have been cautious in their embrace of the alt right. As late as December 2016, Hill warned against younger members “eloping” with the alt right, because the movement was still too new and unpredictable. By the time of the 2017 conference, the League was more willing to welcome the alt right—but only on its own terms of Southern white nationalism.
League member Brad Griffin (aka Hunter Wallace), a well-known white supremacist in his own right, claimed after the conference that the League had decided “to work together and find common ground” with the alt right. Griffin had been forging his own ties with the alt right, developing relationships with different alt right figures and advocating exploiting the newer multimedia tools used by prominent alt rightists. Griffin and Hill have had disagreements over tactics and strategies in recent years but seem to agree on the need to maintain a relationship with the alt right.
Neo-Confederates have benefited from the fact that some people within the alt right itself had already begun creating their own southern white nationalism, making the gap easier to bridge. This is represented most clearly by the Identity Dixie web site, an alt right site that creates Southern versions of common alt right terms, such as “Cuckfederate” for “Cuckservative,” and produces Rebel Yell, “a Southern Nationalist podcast of the alt right.”
Do any of these attempts by longstanding white supremacists to attract the young racists of the alt right have a chance at success? A clue may be found in the history of the white supremacist movement, because the alt right is not the first time long-established white supremacists have encountered a new type of racist based around a strong subculture.
In the 1980s, the appearance of the racist skinhead subculture in the United States, brought across the Atlantic from Great Britain, seemed to offer established white supremacists like neo-Nazis and Klan groups much the same opportunities that the alt right does now. Prominent white supremacists such as Thomas Metzger and Richard Butler made significant efforts to appeal to these new white supremacists—with mixed results.
While many racist skinheads absorbed concepts and ideas from these would-be tutors and leaders, incorporating them into their own beliefs, and some joined white supremacist groups such as the Creativity Movement, racist skinheads never lost their distinctive nature. More often than not, they formed their own groups, becoming a separate segment of the broader white supremacist movement. If the alt right survives, it may well evolve similarly, disappointing older white supremacists hoping for a supply of new recruits to their groups.