Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump

Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump

The story of the remarkable resurgence of right-wing extremists in the United StatesJust as Donald Trump’s victorious campaign for the US presidency shocked liberal Americans, the seemingly sudden national prominence of white supremacists, xenophobes, militia leaders, and mysterious ‘Alt-Right’ leaders mystifies many. But the extreme right has been growing steadily in t...

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Title:Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump
Author:David Neiwert
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Edition Language:English

Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump Reviews

  • Michelle

    ALT America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump, written by investigative journalist and reporter David Neiwert who has studied political science for decades. This highly informative and expertly researched book defines the powerful forces that shape and define the ALT political movement-- its vision, agenda and ideology.

    The history and rise of ALT politics began in the 1990’s with the gun enthusiastic far right “Patriots”. Eventually the movement would turn into the “

    ALT America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump, written by investigative journalist and reporter David Neiwert who has studied political science for decades. This highly informative and expertly researched book defines the powerful forces that shape and define the ALT political movement-- its vision, agenda and ideology.

    The history and rise of ALT politics began in the 1990’s with the gun enthusiastic far right “Patriots”. Eventually the movement would turn into the “Tea Party” fringe of the Republican Party. On June 15, 2015, Donald Trump began his presidential campaign blasting the incompetent political leaders that allowed our great nation to be beaten down by foreign trade. What was really apparent was his bigotry towards Latinos and other minorities in his boastful, arrogant, unapologetic narrative.

    By 2015, domestic acts of terrorism had spiked considerably, the vast majority of these acts were committed by American right wing extremists. The most damaging was the attack and bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. Most Americans identify terrorism with radical Islam or Al Qaeda, associated with 9/11. Neiwert pointed out that the Justice Department does not officially report or record acts of domestic terror committed by neo-Nazi’s, environmental extremists, militias, war groups or other isolated madmen.

    The unusual views of the ALT include: Barack Obama is a secret Muslim conspiring with terrorist radicals to impose sharia law on Americans. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and a vast majority of politicians are a part of the elite that favor a New World Order and global government. Global Climate Change is a hoax, and a large amount of other conspiracy theories where white people are targeted by those who favor minorities that “suck away” taxpayer dollars and bring crime and disease to the USA. They favor a border wall that Donald Trump has proposed to keep them out.

    The powerful prejudice against racial and ethnic minorities including the LGBT population and religious minorities are the backbone of the ALT agenda. The white supremacists, neo-Nazis, white nationalists, xenophobes, misogynists and paranoid conspiracy theorists were embraced by Donald Trump, drawn from the fringe, and into mainstream politics. However, when a barrage of the anti-Semitic hate mail and messages appeared on social media, Trump remained strangely silent.

    **With thanks and appreciation to Verso Books via NetGalley for the DDC for the purpose of review.

  • Peter Mcloughlin

    This book is an in-depth study of the of the radical right and its entry into the mainstream in the person of Donald J. Trump. The factors that made this homegrown fascist movement were many and incubating for a long time. Some of them have to do with authoritarian psychology to which a large segment of the population is prone. Some have to do with the concerted actions of Militia movements, white supremacist groups, and its melding with movement conservatism which had long dog whistled racist m

    This book is an in-depth study of the of the radical right and its entry into the mainstream in the person of Donald J. Trump. The factors that made this homegrown fascist movement were many and incubating for a long time. Some of them have to do with authoritarian psychology to which a large segment of the population is prone. Some have to do with the concerted actions of Militia movements, white supremacist groups, and its melding with movement conservatism which had long dog whistled racist messages as part of its southern strategy along with the development of a hermetically sealed media bubble which has cocooned the right from any conflicting messages and reality itself. Authoritarians feed a media diet of the imagination of fever swamps of the right have grown increasingly extreme and have mainstreamed racist white supremacist and fascist ideology which is in the process of capturing the Republican party under Trump. This book names the events and players with much detail. If you want to understand what has happened to a sizable chunk of the population that voted for Trump I can think of no better source in one volume.

    Here is a chat with the author with Joe Conason on Youtube

  • Montzalee Wittmann

    Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump by David Neiwert is a book I requested from NetGalley and the book's publishers and the review is voluntary. I want to thank them for the chance to read this great book. This book shows the reader that although the 'Alt-Right' seems to have popped right up out of thin air, it has been around for a long time. This takes you back to the the 1990's and follows many of the extremist as the movement grows. Many I have forgotten for a reas

    Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump by David Neiwert is a book I requested from NetGalley and the book's publishers and the review is voluntary. I want to thank them for the chance to read this great book. This book shows the reader that although the 'Alt-Right' seems to have popped right up out of thin air, it has been around for a long time. This takes you back to the the 1990's and follows many of the extremist as the movement grows. Many I have forgotten for a reason, and some I just didn't know that much about at all.

    There was one paragraph that sums up the whole book for me :

    "Ladies and Gentlemen: In Amercian public life there is an alternative dimension, a mental space beyond fact or logic, where the rules of evidence are replaced by paranoia. Welcome to Alternative America---Alt-America, for short."

    It goes on to list what Alt-America believes such as... Obama not an American citizen, a Muslim who is a terrorist and with Clinton is part of the New World Order to impose global government.

    Global Climate Change is a hoax.

    These same global elites want to gut the second amendment to take all the guns away.

    Our current government is really illegal.

    Prejudice and oppression against white people now is greater than ever.

    Minorities, especially blacks and illegal immigrants are sucking up taxpayers dollars through welfare programs while homeless veterans go hungry.

    Illegal immigrants, especially Latinos, are in with liberals and Democrats to overwhelm the country with welfare-dependent parasites to vote liberal agenda.

    You have to be so stupid or so racist to believe any of this nonsense! But, Trump got elected and the weak majority in Congress are doing his bidding. What a shame for the once mighty America. Taken down by a bunch of fools! May the 2018 elections bring some sanity to the country if Mueller hasn't restored order by then! Wonderful book to remind us of what happened and why.

  • Tonstant Weader

    I wish Alt-America were fiction, I would like it so much better if it were telling the story of what happened in another multi-verse, but it’s all terribly true and so it is depressing. However, if we want a just and decent society, we have to look at reality no matter how sad, depressing, and frightening it may be.

    David Neiwert has spent decades reporting on rising extremism on the right. When the rhetoric of talk radio became increasingly violent, he coined the term eliminationist

    I wish Alt-America were fiction, I would like it so much better if it were telling the story of what happened in another multi-verse, but it’s all terribly true and so it is depressing. However, if we want a just and decent society, we have to look at reality no matter how sad, depressing, and frightening it may be.

    David Neiwert has spent decades reporting on rising extremism on the right. When the rhetoric of talk radio became increasingly violent, he coined the term eliminationist to avoid calling them fascist since many of them were not fascists in ideology, just using fascistic communication styles and means. In this book, he notes that the various movements among the right have coalesced into the alt-right, weaving together true fascists and neo-nazis with white nationalists, misogynists, racists, and dominion theologists into a movement that threatens democracy and our system of pluralistic government.

    Since I follow the news and Neiwert’s blog closely, many of the events in this book were familiar, but even for me, there were many eye-opening things. Of particular interest for me was how the media narrative often erases the political motivation of mass killers. Even when they have political tracts, books, and their own manifesto, if they are white, they are often reported as troubled and singular, their motives found in mental illness rather than in response to stochastic violent incitement. When Sarah Palin tweeted, “Don’t retreat, RELOAD” she was playing with fire and she knew it, she was appealing to those who applauded Michael Douglas in Falling Down and make millions for vigilante films.

    I think Alt-America is an important book, but dang, is it depressing. The alt-right is coalescing several different extremist movements united by a sense of grievance, a taste for violence, and a love of authoritarianism. They are gaining power.

    I wish there were more information on how to combat the alt-right and rising extremism. Neiwert is right that conversations are where we must start and includes some advice on how to start and what to avoid. This is useful.

    What disappointed me was his acceptance of caricatures of liberals that are generated from the right, you know the elitist latte-drinking, merlot-sipping elites who despise the ignorant hayseeds. I know they exist. They are called the Real Housewives and some of them are Republicans, too. But demographically, conservatives are whiter and wealthier than liberals. So who is more likely to be elitist? He also talks about the neglect of rural areas, though the Democratic Platform was full of programs to help rural America and one of the first things slated for cuts from Trump’s budget is the subsidy for high-speed internet in rural America.

    I also would like to know what he thinks about the philosophical dilemma of tolerating the intolerant. When does speech go from protected first amendment speech to unprotected yelling fire in a theater speech? Are universities obligated to give a platform to hate speech? After Richard Spencer’s recent speech in FL, three men fired at protesters. Can the argument be made denying him a platform because he is dangerous?

    Nonetheless, these are minor flaws in a strong and important history that everyone needs to read. Neiwert is scrupulous about using the terms Nazi and fascist, but when reading this book, I could not help thinking that the Nazis did not start out with concentration camps, they started out with firing teachers.

    I was provided an e-galley of Alt-America by the publisher through NetGalley

    Alt-America at Verso Books

    David Neiwert Author Site

  • Kaelan Ratcliffe▪Κάϊλαν Ράτκλιφ▪كايِلان راتكِليف

    The above title is taken from the final chapter of this book. It is a fitting heading to be paired with our current politcial climate, and I say "our" political climate as - despite being from London, UK - I can thoroughly agree that when America sneezes, the world catches pneumonia (forget the cold).

    The content of this book surprised me, and I'm struggling as to how to recommend this to others. I first saw it in a Waterstones bookstore and nearly froze on the spot, as it see

    The above title is taken from the final chapter of this book. It is a fitting heading to be paired with our current politcial climate, and I say "our" political climate as - despite being from London, UK - I can thoroughly agree that when America sneezes, the world catches pneumonia (forget the cold).

    The content of this book surprised me, and I'm struggling as to how to recommend this to others. I first saw it in a Waterstones bookstore and nearly froze on the spot, as it seemed my answer to finding THE book on what happened last November might finally be in my sights. I love a good book that analyses fringe movements, and this looked like the deal breaker for understanding how those movements came to power in 2016. After reading Alt-America, I have to say, this isn't that book. Perhaps that will come further down the line (if we're all still here).

    In general, I must recommend anything that analyses Neo-Fasicsm in its 21st century form, and by default extension, this book falls firmly into that category. The ideology has been dormant, but never dead, and the author of this book

    makes it crystal clear in the final chapter of

    that the United States has been

    lucky so far that a truly charismatic, authoritarian leader hasn't risen to lead the tide of right wing populism that's been fermenting in the nations underbelly since the 1990's.*

    Which leads us to this books purpose. As mentioned, It's hard to recommend this in one particular way, and I believe anyone who's already looked into this specific topic won't find anything majorly new here. As such, this has to be recommended to those outside the States, as at its bare minimum,

    is one Hell of a dive into insanity for the uninitiated outsider (and this is coming from myself who keeps a pretty good eye on fringe groups from a few sources).

    Neiwert traces the beginnings of the Alt-America we have today from the 90's Militias, to the post 9/11 conspiracy mill era, into the tea party shenanigans (good God what a nightmare) and finally Trump, as well as the rise of the Alt-Right. It's a well researched book, which sees the author making good connections from chapter to chapter, leading the reader through the decades, to arrivd at a solid understanding as to how we ended up in the mess we have today. As a result, It's not hard to see how much resentment was bubbling beneath the surface of America's society, just waiting for the right figure to unite all the various extremist factions into one cohesive unit (although that seems to be collapsing right now, which isn't necessarily a good thing).

    My only criticism lies in a lack of analysis from Neiwert throughout each chapter. He basically logs each decade and moves to the next without much input. He saves opinion for the end in a half-baked recommendation as to how to proceed from here. It becomes rather contradictory considering he spends most of the book clearly and purposefully displaying expertly just how powerful this movement has become; how brainwashed

    people have become. On one hand he recommends a peaceful protest in opposition to Trump and his posse, with ways in which to discuss alternatives with those supporters on his side in dissolution with their lives, whilst on the other hand thoroughly agreeing that extending a hand to those who seek violence from the extremeties of the right as a pointless exercise. Obviously I'm not quoting directly, but the conclusion was slightly confusing seeing as where does one part begin, and one part end? It goes without saying that it's certainly difficult to know who has been truly lost down the rabbit hole (30 years of disinformation will do that to the rust belt) and who can be convinced their political path is not the one to take. However, it was hardly a deal breaker for me when reading this.

    I'll leave the reader with a quote from the book I found particularly chilling:

    It would be really great if that death spiral doesn't come to fruition.

  • Bill  Kerwin

    In his book

    , David Neiwert demonstrates that right-wing populism is actually an alternative universe (“Alt-America”) that:

    In his book

    , David Neiwert demonstrates that right-wing populism is actually an alternative universe (“Alt-America”) that:

    Neiwert begins with Dylan Roof and Charlottesville, showing us Alt-America in the context of Trump, but then goes back twenty-five years to Bill Clinton’s first term, to the Montana Militia and Ruby Ridge. He traces the development of Alt-America through Oklahoma City, the Militia Movement and the Tea Party to the Oath Keepers,Cliven Bundy, and today’s alt-right, showing how all these movements are tied together by the same totems (the Gadsden Flag) and the same eliminationist rhetoric directed toward people of color.

    Neiwert’s book offers us not only a good look at where we are now, with a right-wing populist in the White House, but also a useful backward glance at the conspiracy theories and racist rhetoric that brought us here. Neiwert helped me understand something I did not wish to understand: Trump is not a fluke, but a destination, the end of a road that reaches back at least a quarter of a century.

  • Jill Mackin

    I am stupefied at the level of participation in the Trump campaign from across the country by militias, white nationalists, and christian identity groups! I knew it was bad, but certainly not to the extent the author has revealed. A scary but excellent read.

  • Peacegal

    If the way things are going doesn't bother you, you might need to pay closer attention. This book traces the evolution of extreme and reactionary right-wing movements in the U.S. The author offers insight into the world these people and groups live in, and offers ideas for those who oppose their rhetoric to stand up to it.

  • Bryan Craig

    Neiwart covers the last couple of decades with the rise of the alt-right: the militias, white nationalist groups, etc. He takes us to mid-2017, so Charlottesville is not included here, but that alt-right rally fits well into the context he provides in these pages.

    The Patriots, David Duke, Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulis, Glenn Beck, Bannon, and many others appear in this book. He charts the infusion of all these white power, militia, and conspiracy believers (New World Order) to mainstream politi

    Neiwart covers the last couple of decades with the rise of the alt-right: the militias, white nationalist groups, etc. He takes us to mid-2017, so Charlottesville is not included here, but that alt-right rally fits well into the context he provides in these pages.

    The Patriots, David Duke, Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulis, Glenn Beck, Bannon, and many others appear in this book. He charts the infusion of all these white power, militia, and conspiracy believers (New World Order) to mainstream politics. This is my big takeaway.

    There is a lot in this book, and I know I will be reaching for this one for a long time. It's an important book.

  • Blair

    After a really strong introduction, I was excited about this comprehensive review of the modern political right in North America. Neiwert's thesis is that the right-wing groups and movements of today's USA have formed a perception of American society that is entirely detached from reality – a sort of alternate-universe version of the country – which he calls 'alt-America'. The beliefs that characterise alt-America were, Neiwert argues, consolidated and brought into the mainstream by Donald Trump

    After a really strong introduction, I was excited about this comprehensive review of the modern political right in North America. Neiwert's thesis is that the right-wing groups and movements of today's USA have formed a perception of American society that is entirely detached from reality – a sort of alternate-universe version of the country – which he calls 'alt-America'. The beliefs that characterise alt-America were, Neiwert argues, consolidated and brought into the mainstream by Donald Trump's presidential candidacy, resulting in his victory.

    Neiwert tracks the evolution of this new, more aggressive breed of conservative politics from homegrown militia groups and conspiracy theorists through to Gamergate and Dylann Roof. Unfortunately, while I did feel I learned something, the book is often a victim of its own thoroughness. A summary of events such as the Ruby Ridge and Bundy standoffs would, I think, have sufficed, but instead we get blow-by-blow accounts of several of these sieges that feel like they drag on for hundreds of pages. The subjects of the chapters aren't clearly defined, and although the narrative is roughly chronological, it often jumps around. With such sprawling subject matter, a more rigid structure would have been helpful.

    I also think this is the most poorly edited review copy I’ve ever come across. I don’t normally mention minor errors in ARCs – they're par for the course – but this wasn’t the usual case of a few spelling mistakes. There are lots of instances in which the point being made is completely unclear; quotes are framed in such a way that it’s impossible to tell who’s being quoted or even what they actually said; information is repeated – we might be told about the background of a right-wing website or group 3 or 4 times in different chapters. This makes for a very confusing reading experience, exacerbating what already feels like an overloaded narrative. An appendix containing a list of major players and organisations would have been beneficial here.

    A better book I've recently read about the 'alt-right' is Angela Nagle's

    I'd recommend that as a smart, snappy, unbiased guide to the state of online discourse, and its political context, around the time of the 2016 presidential election. This, of course, has a much broader scope than Nagle’s book, and it goes beyond the headline-grabbing figures and trends that readers will already be aware of – the alt-right figureheads; the Tea Party; the KKK endorsing Trump; the memes – and delves much deeper into the recent history of the radical right, tracing the roots of today's movement back to developments during the Clinton and Bush eras. This alone makes it worth at least a skim-read. However, I think the definitive book on modern US right-wing politics has yet to be written.

    Alt-America

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