by Alexandra Minna Stern
What is the alt-right? What do they believe, and how did they take center stage in the American social and political consciousness?
From a loose movement that lurked in the shadows in the early 2000s, the alt-right has achieved a level of visibility that has allowed it to expand significantly throughout America's cultural, political, and digital landscapes. Racist, sexist, and homophobic beliefs that were previously unspeakable have become commonplace, normalized, and accepted--endangering American democracy and society as a whole. Yet in order to dismantle the destructive movement that has invaded our public consciousness, we must first understand the core beliefs that drive the alt-right.
To help guide us through the contemporary moment, historian Alexandra Minna Stern excavates the alt-right memes and tropes that have erupted online and explores the alt-right's central texts, narratives, constructs, and insider language. She digs to the root of the alt-right's motivations: their deep-seated fear of an oncoming "white genocide" that can only be remedied through swift and aggressive action to reclaim white power. As the group makes concerted efforts to cast off the vestiges of neo-Nazism and normalize their appearance and their beliefs, the alt-right and their ideas can be hard to recognize. Through careful analysis, Stern brings awareness to the underlying concepts that guide the alt-right and animate its overlapping forms of racism, xenophobia, transphobia, and anti-egalitarianism. She explains the key ideas of "red-pilling," strategic trolling, gender essentialism, and the alt-right's ultimate fantasy: a future where minorities have been removed and "cleansed" from the body politic and a white ethnostate is established in the United States. By unearthing the hidden mechanisms that power white nationalism, Stern reveals just how pervasive this movement truly is.
"In this carefully researched book, the historian Alexandra Minna Stern studies a wide array of online web sites, documenting a rise in claims to whiteness as a basis of identity, as a claim to victimhood and as an argument for a 'white ethnostate.' Drawing ideas from films ('red-pilling' comes from The Matrix) and from the left (the need for 'safe spaces'), the Alt-Right, she argues, is trying to normalize a frightening shift from talk of civic nationalism to talk of race-based nationalism. This is very important work we should all know about." --Arlie Hochschild, author of Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, finalist for the National Book Award.
"Proud Boys and the White Ethnostate is the definitive guide to alt-right ideas today. Stern brilliantly documents how a younger generation of activists are repackaging the Far Right, waging a battle for cultural dominance. The internet is their home, where they mix fascist ideologies and faux scholarship to make their case for white/Christian/male dominance. Stern has analyzed an enormous swath of ethno-nationalist material, sparing the rest of us from having to engage in that odious task. Proud Boys is essential reading in the age of Trump." --Arlene Stein, author of Unbound: Transgender Men and the Remaking of Identity
About the Author:
Alexandra Minna Stern is the author of the award-winning Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America and Telling Genes: The Story of Genetic Counseling in America. She has contributed her insight into eugenics, ethnicity, and social movements to dozens of scholarly essays and interviews. Stern is the Carroll Smith-Rosenberg Collegiate Professor of American Culture, History, and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan, where she leads the acclaimed Sterilization and Social Justice Lab.