Hillary Clinton recently gave a speech addressing the problematic uprising of an internal cultural threat to women, immigrants, people of color, the poor, Muslims, LGBT... pretty much every demographic the Left likes to pander to. That impending unignorable threat is: dank memes. Or, as it's more commonly known to layman folks, the Alt-Right.
What Is the Alt-Right?
Depending on who you ask, the Alt-Right, short for the Alternative Right, can be defined in both positive and negative lights, from a modern accumulation of re-energized misogyny, bigotry, and hard fascism, to simply an emergence of conservative nationalists with a sense of humor. To be fair, both of these descriptions are accurate, but both also miss the big picture.
The Alt-Right is a meme with a mission.I could give you some boring pretentious academia theory of the Alt-Right, but as someone who’s actually engaged with them many a time, I’m just going to tell you how it is, short and easy to understand.
The Alt-Right is a meme with a mission. They are determined to do away with all things establishment and replace it with a right nationalist, arguably Eurocentric, draconian Western socio-economic order. And they plan to accomplish this through the growing mass appeal of comical, edgy, meme-oriented domination of online political discourse. This runs completely counter to the increasingly censored, regulated, and belligerently sensitive outlets, many of which are predominantly occupied by the Left.
As a libertarian, I find many of their protectionist and somewhat xenophobic ambitions to be concerning. That may be putting it lightly, however. But this isn’t about how free market principles can make the Alt-Right great again, so I’ll keep my suggestions to myself. For now.
The Power of the Alt-Right
The Alt-Right is definitely a notable force in the culture war brewing in America and abroad, but not really one that has any tangible governmental influence outside of their god-emperor seraph, Donald Trump. They don’t have any lobbyists, they don’t have any major industries supporting them, they’re not very financially powerful. How is it then that they’ve made themselves into such a large ideological target? They're so large that the leading presidential nominee of America felt the need to dedicate an entire national press conference to addressing it.
The answer to this question is simple. The Alt-Right garners reaction from the Left. This is by far the most valuable characteristic of the ideology, not only in regards to Trump's campaign, but also regarding the individualist pursuits of the greater Alt-Right community.
They accomplish this in both positive and negative ways. Through provocative figures, authoritarian desires, and fringe yet undeniably bigoted rhetoric, the Alt-Right has opened themselves to mainstream observances. And whether you agree or not, when they see this fervid nationalist narcissism which has a predominantly white male appeal, many people think to themselves: fascism. Particularly a radical conservative neo-aryan brand of fascism. I'm not saying these conclusions are by and large accurate, but it’s what people are arriving at.
With the help of modern day activist academia and the mainstream media propping up the narrative, it makes sense that the Alt-Right would be at the top of the Left's most-wanted list – even above climate change and student loan debt, which should be concerning to anyone who believes these issues should take precedent over an flamboyant internet provocateur saying “Would you rather your child had feminism or cancer?”
But hey, I guess that’s pretty telling about where the motives of politicians lie. Which leads me to my next point: what motivated Hillary to go after the Alt-Right?
Why Is Hillary Giving Them Validity?
If Hillary isn’t going after the Alt-Right because of sincere progressive values, why is she doing it?Throughout Hillary’s entire speech, I found myself constantly asking the same question: why the heck would she even give these people the time of day? I mean, a guy in the audience, supposedly an Alt-Right covert operative, shouted “Pepe.” These people treat politics like a joke – which might be why I find them so much more appealing than other political genres.
One would assume a seasoned heiress to political dynasty such as Hillary Clinton would be more interested in spending time addressing real issues, like how she’s going to put an end to the corruption her corporatist campaign donors engage in every day on Wall Street, for example. But instead, she feels that Racism, Sexism, Homophobic and Islamophobia are more important, which could be construed as reflective of her vehement opposition to socially illiberal and intolerant values.
I would actually commend her for that, if it was true. Thing is, we know it’s not.
- Hillary wasn’t rallying against racism when she was referring to black inner city youth as super predators, and advocating to bring them to heel rather in defense of her husband's failed war on crime. She favors anything other than repealing some of the state policies that have contributed to the economic and cultural deterioration of these communities.
- Homophobia wasn’t a big deal for the entirety of her political career, seeing how she supported traditionalist religious legislation against gay marriage.
- She wasn’t rallying against sexism when she defended the sexually exploitative behavior of her husband and actively shamed victims of his abuse to protect his political reputation. Seems to me like Hillary would make a great ally to the patriarchy.
- She surely wasn’t interested in the well-being of Muslims after she assisted in the destabilization of an entire Middle Eastern region and proceeded to have a public laugh about it, completely unsympathetic to the state of financial ruin and terror her interventions left the area in.
Memes are more powerful than most people are willing to admit. So, if Hillary isn’t going after the Alt-Right because of sincere progressive values, why is she doing it? Well, my hypothesis is that she’s doing it for the same reason that makes the Alt-Right relevant: reaction. Hillary wants to capitalize on the emotional reaction people are having in opposition to the Alternative Right.
And the best way to accomplish that is to stoke the flames of already-existing reaction; that is, she wants to make people think that the Alt-Right is a bigger threat to liberal principles than it is. Essentially, she desires to create an artificial antagonist that she can rally against and, in turn, convince others to rally behind her in support of this missionary façade for preserving social justice.
This whole thing is just a game of politics.
The Future of Weaponized Memes
Never in all of my internet career would I have ever imagined a presidential nominee addressing the nation to bring awareness to memes, as though it’s some kind of national security threat. But if I’m being honest, I’m not at all surprised.
Memes are more powerful than most people are willing to admit. They are the digital media equivalent of street painting. It’s an avenue of free unregulated expression that anyone can partake in. Whether it be to make a political statement, or to offer cultural criticism, casual humor, or hateful incitement, memes have evolved into a cosmos of ideas and opinions, with an influential reach that can be seen from a teenager’s Twitter feed all the way to a presidential candidate's campaign trail.
With such a strong influence, people naturally want to attempt to use it to their own benefit. Many try and fail, while others hit a homerun. But one thing is certain: the Alt-Right has made a lasting name for itself in this space, competing only on par with #BlackTwitter in terms of overall dankest memes in the market. And while others are playing catch-up or trying to exploit and ride the wave other professional memesters have created, the Alt-Right is continuing to go strong in revolutionizing this artistic concept of information age activism.