AP stylebook update discourages use of “alt-right” as media starts calling it more accurate names
On Monday, the Associated Press announced a series of new stylebook guidelines for journalists covering the “alt-right.” Specifically, the AP is discouraging use of term “alt-right” without context: “Avoid using the term generically and without definition … because it is not well known and the term may exist primarily as a public-relations device to make its supporters’ actual beliefs less clear and more acceptable to a broader audience.” The AP makes a critically important point in noting how the term is, in many ways, a ploy by the movement’s leaders and supporters to make the unacceptable appear acceptable.
Use of the label “alt-right” serves to casually shrug off overt bigotry, misogyny, and dangerously oppressive, ignorant beliefs as simply an “alternative” sect of conservatism. Without context, it’s a term that normalizes wild racism and hides the movement’s true identity rooted in white nationalism and neo-Nazism.
The term “alt-right” also establishes an uncomfortable sort of false equivalence, as if its bigotry represents the far right, the same way impassioned social justice activists represent the far left. I don’t want to live in a world where undermining the humanity of people of color and women is portrayed as the same great “evil” of demanding respect for pronouns and gender identity. Nor do I want to live in a world where calls to end universal suffrage are equated with calls for universal healthcare.
Even prior to the AP’s new guidelines, numerous outlets were already taking it upon themselves to disavow the term. Over at Jezebel last week, Brendan O’Connor noted that in denying the movement “its chosen moniker,” we could “thereby dent, hopefully, its claim to legitimacy and respectability.” But while O’Connor pointed out that the movement “deserve[s] mockery and nothing more,” at the same time, “any short-hand descriptor at all risks failing to adequately yoke the individuals to the consequences of their stated beliefs and values.” Mother Jones recently highlighted how the “alt-right” is just a fancy name for a movement meant to “make racism cool again” that no one should buy into.
Senior White House advisor Steve Bannon has described, Breitbart News, a fringe conservative news outlet he founded, as a “platform for the alt-right,” and we can’t ignore just how popular President-elect Donald Trump is with vocal racists and misogynists partaking in the “alt-right” movement. Despite weakly telling supporters committing hate crimes and harassing minorities to “stop,” Trump has struggled to adequately disavow support from the KKK and disassociate himself with the fringe movement rooted in hate. His appointment of Bannon, who has not only fully embraced the movement but served as a prominent leader of it, certainly does not help.
The rise of the “alt-right” was primarily enabled by the internet and social media, as bigots across the nation responded to those darned, overly sensitive “social justice warriors” (SJW’s) with harassment, racial slurs, and even rape and death threats, all while advancing notions of white male supremacy.
However, there is some good news. If you’re as done with the “alt-right” as the AP is, there’s now a Google Chrome extension for that. Install it and see the phrase replaced with its true identity: white nationalism.