Tell traditional corporate media outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS and NBC:
“Stop sanitizing and normalizing white supremacists and Nazis. Stop using the term 'alt-right.'”
Add your name:
“Alt-right” has got to go.
Donald Trump has emboldened white supremacists across the country to emerge from the sewers of the extreme right wing into the light of day. But before Trump’s rise to power, white supremacists got a 21st century rebrand.1
Richard Spencer, an infamous white supremacist who wants to create an Aryan homeland for dispossessed white people, coined the term “alt-right” in 2008.2 He wanted to encapsulate extremist right-wing ideals of “white identity” and the preservation of “Western civilization” and make room for a different kind of conservative.3 What he has really made room for is a new kind of white supremacist, unburdened by the negative baggage of Klan robes or Nazi swastikas.
When traditional corporate media outlets call today’s white supremacists “alt-right,” they sanitize and normalize a movement that seeks to reverse decades of civil rights gains and solidify white power and privilege, using violence if necessary. They need to stop.
Tell traditional corporate media outlets: Call white supremacy what it is. Stop using the term “alt-right.” Click here to sign the petition.
Last weekend, white supremacists spent almost 24 hours violently promoting their white resentment and rage in Charlottesville, Virginia. Their torchlit cries of “white lives matter,” “Jews will not replace us,” “one people, one nation, end immigration” and “heil Trump” gave way to fights with counter protesters and finally a terror attack that killed one counter protester and injured almost 20 more.
What white supremacists planned in Charlottesville was more like a military invasion than a protest.4 They seemed more committed to inciting violence and raising the profile of their extremist movement than staging a peaceful rally.5
Since the weekend, Trump has led the way in condoning their terrifying actions and communicating to them that he is on their side.6 The tweeter-in-chief was silent while torch- and assault-weapon-carrying racists marched through the streets. When he first spoke out, he shamefully blamed “many sides” for the violence. It took him 48 hours to condemn the racist violence in Charlottesville, 48 hours that white supremacists celebrated as a major victory. And the condemnation barely lasted a day. As the week wore on, Trump characterized Nazi extremists as "very fine people" and said it was "sad" that Confederate monuments were being removed.
But the media played a powerful role as well. Though most outlets condemned Trump’s refusal to call out racism in his initial statement, they repeatedly referred to the white supremacist Nazi terrorists as protesters and their race riot as a rally or clash.7,8 They gave space to guests who tried to strike false equivalencies between the white supremacists and anti-racist counter protesters or the Black LIves Matter movement more broadly. This is not the time for the media to normalize white supremacists as conventional political actors wearing suits and ties and pretend that there are two sides to white supremacy and Nazism. As Van Jones pointed out while blasting Trump:
When it comes to this kind of hate, there are not many sides. There are not two sides. The media needs to do better and we need to force them to act.
Tell media outlets: Stop normalizing and sanitizing white supremacy. Click here to sign the petition.
Before Charlottesville, the Associated Press Stylebook raised flags about the use of “alt-right” in media coverage of the white supremacy movement, and suggested that reporters “avoid” using the term, but did not go as far as recommending that reporters not use it.10 This week, they took a slightly stronger stance. They still suggest that writers “avoid” the term but also call out “alt-right” as a “euphemism to disguise racist aims.”11
These guidelines, which reporters and editors do not even consistently follow, are not enough. Outlets that use “alt-right” are dignifying white supremacy’s horrific racism, xenophobia, misogyny, anti-Semitism and anti-LGBTQ hate. That’s why ThinkProgress stopped using the term last November.12 Other media outlets should follow their lead.
Tell media outlets: Call white supremacy what it is. Stop using the term “alt-right.” Click the link below to sign the petition:
- Heidi Hess, Senior Campaign Manager