Conservatives, Time for Us to Renounce the New Alt-Right

On August 11, 2017,  hundreds of alt-right white nationalists marched in Charlottesville, VA in the Unite the Right Rally. The next day, their calls for a white ethnostate drew counterprotesters. At first, the meetings were mostly peaceful. Later on, however, one white nationalist turned the situation violent when he drove a car through a crowd of opposing demonstrators, injuring 19 and killing one. After the attack, the public saw the true evil that was present in the alt-right, and its members retreated. However, recent months have seen this racist ideology rear its ugly head again.

Members of the alt-right 2.0, the “groypers” as they call themselves, have started to become a nuisance for Young America’s Foundation (YAF) and Turning Point USA (TPUSA), two conservative student organizations who have denounced their movement. One groyper website, The Daily Stormer, published a calendar of YAF and TPUSA college lectures and called for its “soldiers” to challenge the mainstream conservatives who came to speak. When Congressman Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) came to Texas A&M, one groyper asserted to him that America should not be giving aid to the Jewish state of Israel because “they hate Christianity.” Another asked TPUSA Chairman Charlie Kirk, who was holding a panel with gay Iraq War veteran Rob Smith, “How does anal sex help us win the culture war?” Even the University of Michigan was a target in the “Groyper War.” Among the speaking events on The Daily Stormer’s calendar was YAF Speaker and Daily Wire author Elisha Krauss’s “Pro-Life is “Pro-Woman” lecture. Luckily, none came to disrupt the event.

The commander-in-chief of the Groyper War is YouTuber Nicholas J. Fuentes. TPUSA Chief Creative Officer Benny Johnson has created an effective Twitter thread that catalogs Fuentes’s misdeeds. For one, he has heaped heavy praise on the Unite the Right Rally (which he attended). He has claimed that racial segregation was “better for [black people].” He has called Daily Wire host Matt Walsh a “race traitor who works for Jews.” Finally, he has stated that there is little difference between himself and Richard Spencer in terms of evaluating “the problem.” 

The problem for him is that there are too many minorities in America. Fuentes and his ilk claim that as our population becomes more diverse, it becomes more difficult to elect Republicans. As evidence, they point to the overwhelming tendency of minorities to vote for Democrats. However, this argument relies on a false assumption that correlation equals causation. Data from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies suggest that black people, for example, have not always voted Democratic. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, African-Americans were split in party identification, with as many associating with Democrats as with Republicans. 1948 represented the start of the disparity. One main reason for the split was that Democratic president Harry Truman desegregated the military just months before the election. Later, Lyndon B. Johnson issued the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. These policies allowed Democrats to cater especially well to black voters and paint themselves as civil rights champions. The right should take note. In order to get more conservatives elected, Republicans need to focus on better marketing to minorities, not create movements that claim that minorities should not be allowed into the country because of their race. The Republican Party platforms of the early 1940s called for the fostering of free enterprise, lower taxes, and a strong national defense. They backed up these ideas by appealing to the values of the Founding Fathers. African-Americans can resonate with these policies; they have in the past. The first step in winning over minority voters is debunking the far-left lie that Republicans are racist. That becomes much more difficult if we embrace movements like Fuentes’s.

The problem for him is that there are too many minorities in America. Fuentes and his ilk claim that as our population becomes more diverse, it becomes more difficult to elect Republicans.

So what caused the rapid rise of the groypers? First, these new alt-righters have a different core philosophy than their predecessors. Conservatives could easily fight back against the first wave by pointing out that these people were simply not conservatives. The first alt-right’s members were radically pro-abortion, heavily opposed to an alliance with the Jewish State of Israel, and highly critical of Christianity and its message that all people are created in God’s image.  Now, Fuentes’ followers espouse a much more seductive message. They claim to be trying to save American conservative values under an apparent “America First” ideology. Indeed, their philosophy is better described as “White People First.” They espouse a racist message which masquerades as conservative, and their supposed fervor to elect more Republicans has fooled many.

While the right must put its own house in order, the radical left also shares culpability for the growth of the groyper movement. On the far left, a tendency exists to label ordinary conservative thought-leaders as racists. For example, when conservative pundit Ben Shapiro came to speak at Stanford University, the school’s Coalition of Concerned Students released a statement calling Shapiro a white supremacist. Shapiro is one of the alt-right’s strongest critics and, according to the Anti-Defamation League, the number-one journalistic target of anti-semitism online. Moreover, the Coalition decided to interrupt Shapiro’s speech at the most inopportune time possible. As Shapiro was condemning the same racist movement that I am now, the protestors shouted him down. Shapiro responded to the hecklers by asking them if they were responding to the part where he condemns Nazis. 

As conservatives, we must cast off any hint of bigoted cancer that exists in our movement and stay true to the exceptional American ideals of liberty and justice for all.

The far-left has created a boy-who-cried-wolf scenario. By levying unfounded accusations of racism on mainstream figures, it has allowed actual racists to slide under the radar. When YAF and TPUSA came out against them, groypers claimed that the allegations were characteristic of those conservatives hear generally and labeled members of the two organizations “whiny leftist snowflakes.” 

As both sides learn lessons from the movement’s rise, conservatives especially must note the difference between the bigoted ideology of blood-and-soil nationalism and that of credal patriotism. The former presumes that American exceptionalism is intrinsically connected to the race of the people and the land they live on. According to those who subscribe to this theory, the Founding Fathers could not have created a liberal democracy if they were not white. This idea simply does not have a connection to reality. Japan, for example, has seriously liberalized since World War II. The Hong Kong protests would also undercut this viewpoint, as they exhibit a case of non-white people demanding their rights from a tyrannical government. Russia, however, has had a long history of standing in opposition to western ideals despite being a majority white country. The country did not abolish serfdom until the mid-19th century, and any attempt to liberalize it failed, eventually leading to the formation of the Soviet Union. Credal patriotism, on the other hand, connects the love of country to the ideals on which it was founded. For Americans, these ideals are Jefferson’s self-evident truths “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” The philosophy that Fuentes and his followers espouse is antithetical to American founding values, and, therefore, antithetical to conservatism. As conservatives, we must cast off any hint of bigoted cancer that exists in our movement and stay true to the exceptional American ideals of liberty and justice for all.

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About Charles Hilu

Charles Hilu was editor in chief of the Michigan Review. He currently cowrites the Dispatch Politics newsletter.