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Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The New Alt-Right: the hatred infiltrating social media

Google, Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, Edited by Dan Danylov (‘23)
Accessing hateful content is easier than you think. The background of this graphic consists of a collection of hateful content by creators such as Kaitlin Bennett, Nick Fuentes, and Ben Shapiro. These posts are easily accessible through major platforms like YouTube, Reddit, TikTok, and Twitter. Ranging from antisemitism to COVID-19 denial, the radical right indoctrinates the platforms’ primary users – young people – into their hateful dogma.

2016– what a time! Characterized by “Social Justice Warrior” cringe compilations, Ben Shapiro, and Donald Trump, its politically agitated atmosphere gave rise to the modern alt-right — one that dwells online. 

You might think of the alt-right as bizarre neo-Nazi QAnon adherents, but it is much more complex; it is an umbrella term for the radical right, consisting of a plethora of individuals at different stages of radicalization. This vagueness makes alt-right ideology particularly challenging to define and address; the alt-right slips right by us as we dismiss radical content as niche outliers in the media.  

Far-right figures amass millions of followers, likes, and comments.  

White nationalist Nick Fuentes who has explicitly compared himself to Hitler, was recently hosted for dinner by former president Donald Trump. Despite permanent bans from most major social media platforms (Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook), Fuentes continues to be a prominent figure within the radical media space. Even after his following declined due to his migration to alternative social media platforms such as Rumble, Fuentes maintains a loyal following of more than 100,000 fans. Moreover, social media bans have not prevented Fuentes from appearing on other alt-right channels where he spreads his antisemitic dogma.  

The popularity of alt-right’s dangerous bigotry on social media platforms should be a wake-up call for all of us. It may seem dramatic to correlate this issue with Webb, but the alt-right specifically preys on younger, more impressionable people. With alt-right figures receiving more media exposure, we must familiarize ourselves with this dark part of the internet to remain informed about the subtle yet quick rise of radical ideology in the online information sphere.  

The alt-right’s absurd perspectives hold up weakly against intellectual discussions. That’s why figures like Kaitlin Bennett choose uninformed individuals to debate with – they know they can’t withstand the myriad of facts that counter their ignorant claims.  

That’s why the alt-right easily appeals to younger people. Teenagers find comfort in an ideology that offers an entire catalogue of scapegoats for their problems. Social media personality Andrew Tate, for example, equates sexism to masculinity. Young men, overwhelmed by the societal pressure of masculinity, seek out Tate’s content to feel powerful at the expense of women. Tate outright describes himself as a misogynist, stating that he “doesn’t need female friends,” and that he is simply not interested “in the things that females are interested in.” 

The Advanced Fascism course taught by Ms. Fisher discusses the origins and development of fascist ideology, focusing on identifying the driving sentiments behind radical ideologies, and how their rhetoric spreads throughout politically divided societies.  

“People on the emerging radical right are playing into sentiments that are based on resentment,” said Jessica Fisher, Co-Chair of the Humanities Department. “Those who already believe that there is something wrong with immigrants because of, let’s say, their race, will respond to anti-immigrant views… as we know from Fascism class, successful propaganda appeals to emotions, activates strong passions and creates an enemy and often relies on some truth that is distorted.” 

In the digital age, it is vital to include social media in the discussion surrounding contemporary methods of propaganda. Social media like TikTok, Reddit, and Twitter are the primary cesspools for the alt-right, allowing for non-fact-checked independent “news” reporting to spread easily. 

“I feel nervous because the things [the alt right] preaches are often not based in fact or science,” Ms. Fisher said. “Their doctrine creates an echo chamber where they only hear people who agree with them.” 

Convincing new alt-right recruits that news outlets are dishonest and sponsored by the Democrats, the Illuminati, or the LGBTQ+ the alt-right fosters hostility towards outside information. In short, the alt-right preaches a complete rejection of truth.  

Recycling primitive narratives of victimhood and white nationalism, the alt-right demonizes minorities, posing them as a threat to the dominant social group. Since outright hatred could repulse new recruits, the alt-right employs comedy as a guise for their resentment. In this way, Republican commentators like Steven Crowder mask their hatred for transgender people through “comedy” sketches. These sketches are based on distorted — and often fake — news, pushing transphobic narratives and furthering the idea that trans people are a threat to cisgender society.  

“The alt-right knows that the more extreme and more insulting their content is, the more money they earn,” said Will Allan (‘94), Humanities Department faculty. “Hatred receives likes.” 

To most adults, the alt-right’s rhetoric immediately appears bigoted and outrageous. The problem is, though, not many adults know about the current-day Alex Joneses and Tucker Carlsons. Young people aren’t watching Info Wars or Fox News, they’re consuming content from social media creators. The alt-right isn’t going anywhere, it has simply changed its approach. And our larger community is failing to recognize its warning signs. 

By dismissing the alt-right as a bizarre online phenomenon, we are living in ignorant bliss. We are unable to identify when someone is obtaining knowledge from ludicrous sources if we do not know the figures they are citing; perhaps we might call the person ignorant, but that does nothing except pushing them further into their echo chamber of Subreddits and Telegram chats. 

“The work of the academic community is to help folk to be more open-minded,” Ms. Fisher said. “As any successful propaganda, [alt-right] rhetoric activates strong emotions…as a larger community we need to work to show that they don’t have to be suspicious of progress of change.” 

Combatting the online alt-right is easier said than done, and, frankly, unrealistic. But we must become aware of its looming presence in order to intervene in its pipeline absorbing those around us. For starters, we can identify our own biases and analyze the media we engage with.  

“We have to make sure that as responsible, ethical citizens we can identify when a source is unreliable… in humanities classes we can learn to evaluate the validity of sources and understand when a source is misleading or false,” Ms. Fisher said. 

The alt-right fears one thing – the truth. Informing ourselves of its growing presence and platform, we can use critical thinking to break down the alt-right’s indoctrination model of slowly disintegrating our information space and, as such, our worldview.  

These commentators are here to stay, they will always find ways to avoid bans and restrictions by migrating to different media platforms. Our job is to continue cultivating a critically thinking community where these ignorant viewpoints cannot prosper. 

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About the Contributor
Dan Danylov
Dan Danylov, Co-Editor of Sports & Co-Editor of Opinion
Most Webb students spend their summer at the beach or relaxing with friends, but Dan Danylov (‘23) is not like most Webb students. Dan spent his summer in Romania assisting Ukrainian refugees to obtain the proper documents and find flights. His willingness to help others in need highlights Dan’s dedicated humanitarianism and loyal friendship. At Webb, Dan is the head dorm prefect in Jones, which he claims is the best dorm on campus. He is a perfect fit for the prefect role; he loves helping his peers and is adept at making the lives of those around him just a little bit better. Dan also loves the arts, playing both drums and guitar, and is constantly listening to his favorite genre, post-punk, also known as soviet rock. Not stopping with music, Dan is an avid film enthusiast in his free time and recently enjoyed Sorry to Bother You, an Afro-Surrealist film from 2018. When he’s not watching movies or practicing the drums, Dan spends his time with friends. If you ever happen to drop by his dorm late at night, chances are he will be forgoing a good night's rest to speak with his friends and family on the other side of the world. Dan hopes to use his position as Co-Editor of Opinion and Co-Editor of Sports to improve his and his peers’ writing and advocate for issues he is passionate about.    Favorite Song: “Redbone” by Childish Gambino 

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