The NYT gives its readers definitions for “alt-right” and “alt-left”

The NYT gives its readers definitions for “alt-right” and “alt-left.” By Ann Althouse.

First up is the definition of “Alt-Right,” and I think this definition pushes the word into a much uglier zone than some of the people who have popularized the term deserve:

The “alt-right” is a racist, far-right movement based on an ideology of white nationalism and anti-Semitism. Many news organizations do not use the term, preferring terms like “white nationalism” and “far right.”

The NYT cedes the term to Richard B. Spencer, calling him “a leader in the movement,” and noting his definition: “identity politics for white people.”

The media deliberately destroy the label of any group they don’t like by redefining it to include racism. They did the same with the Tea Party, for instance. The term “alt-right” how has to be abandoned, because the media have linked it to racists, Nazis, and anti-semites It originally excluded these people, and meant anyone who was otherwise not of the new left or the conservative establishment:

Let’s compare what Milo Yiannopoulos writes in his book “Dangerous”:

When we published [“An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right” in March 2016], there had been little commentary, and no trace of an authoritative definition of the emerging alt-right. The media stuck to their usual hysterics that accompany the rise of any popular new right-wing movement…. [I]n its early days, the alt-right included a member base as diverse as disaffected Tea Party supporters and eighteen-year old meme addicts curious about a movement that defied so many taboos….

The definition of alt-right has evolved since we penned our guide. White nationalists and Neo-Nazis took over, and people who initially enjoyed the label were being accused of sins they did not commit. This suited the media just fine… In effect, the extremist fringe of the alt-right and the leftist media worked together to define “alt-right” as something narrow and ugly, and entirely different from the broad, culturally libertarian movement Bokhari and I sketched out. This wanton virtue signaling was wholly unjust to young members of the movement who were flirting with dangerous imagery and boundary pushing….

Thanks to the willingness of old-school conservatives to march in lockstep with the mainstream media, the alt-right gradually came to be dominated not by friends of Pepe, but by actual white nationalists….

Let’s move on to the NYT definition of “Alt-Left”:

Researchers who study extremist groups in the United States say there is no such thing as the “alt-left.” Mark Pitcavage, an analyst at the Anti-Defamation League, said the word had been made up to create a false equivalence between the far right and “anything vaguely left-seeming that they didn’t like.”

Some centrist liberals have taken to using this term.

“It did not arise organically, and it refers to no actual group or movement or network,” Mr. Pitcavage said in an email. “It’s just a made-up epithet, similar to certain people calling any news they don’t like ‘fake news.’”

What’s unorganic about the way the term arose? And why is Pitcavage the beginning and the end of the story of this word? Once we have left and right (terminology that goes back to the French Revolution), if you’re going to put a prefix in front of one, it — organically! — suggests a corresponding prefix for the other, whether or not the people receiving the label enjoy its application to them.

Notice how Trump introduced the word: “What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right?” He’s not accepting the organic quality of “alt-right,” because he’s distancing himself from the usage with “as you say.”

Glenn Reynolds:

Short version: Nazis on the one hand, sweet people who just want universal healthcare on the other. And as far as I can tell, the new rules seem to be (1) It’s okay to punch Nazis; and (2) Everyone I don’t like is a Nazi. This will not end well.