"the combined membership of every white-supremacist organization in this country, would they be able to fit inside a college football stadium?”
--A study done by political scientist George Hawley put the figure at around 12 percent of white Americans. But Hawley himself then claimed that figure was wrong, and revised his figure to a little under 6 percent.
Well, how many people are literally card-carrying members of the alt-right? How many people might be more or less alt-right adjacent? Who gets to define who is and isn't alt-right versus someone who is just right of center, vs someone who is just a jerk, vs someone who is not any of those things, but the person labeling them might be the left's equivalent?
Well, how many people are literally card-carrying members of the alt-right?
I dunno. Maybe zero? Obviously it's not a specific organization that has members, in the way that political parties have members.
How many people might be more or less alt-right adjacent?
Yes, I think that's closer to what I'm curious about.
I remember when some people made the argument that the group at Charlottesville was made up of two distinct factions, one group of Neo-Nazis/Alt-Right, and one group that simply didn't want to take down the Lee statue. The problem w/ that--IMO--was that it didn't seem to me that one would be willing to rub shoulders w/ Nazis unless one actually harbored Nazi sympathies, to some degree. And once you get into trying to make hard distinctions between people who are happy to rub shoulders w/ Nazis vs. actual Nazis, there is perhaps a certain loss of perspective, IMO.
Who gets to define who is and isn't alt-right versus someone who is just right of center
I dunno. But I think Hawley's attempt in this regard seemed fairly reasonable, even if not completely perfect. Someone who is just right of center doesn't seem likely to meet all of the main indicators that Hawley laid out, don't you think?
Last Edit: Aug 17, 2019 22:13:00 GMT -5 by michaelw
Most difficult, and fundamental, issue in these types of debates is agreeing on a coherent definition of what the definition of "alt-right" is.
But I think even when accepting a specific definition for the sake of argument, we can still run into estimates that are likely to be way off.
Take the Knowles video, for example. He does at least make an attempt to lay out what qualifies as alt-Right. But he also claims that the number of people who are alt-Right is around the size of a high-school reunion. Obviously that's not a very specific figure, but I think it's fair to say it wouldn't be above, say, 2,000, or even 1,000.
Yet, I have a hard time seeing how the number could actually be that low, even using Knowles' own attempt at a definition.
The membership on Stormfront, alone, is in the hundreds of thousands. Would anyone actually argue that most of the people who signed up on Stormfront are just normal people, who aren't involved w/ neo-Nazism or the alt-Right?
Yeah, I would agree. But, again, what is "alt-right" and is it the same as "neo-Nazi?" I really don't know the answer to that and it's mostly because of the propensity of the CTRL-Left to label everyone on the right as ALT-Right. Sort of like they over-apply racist, transphobic, and misogynist to a range of situations/people for which those words obviously don't apply. The reckless, hyperbolic use of language in the current polarized political climate obscures things to the point of, ironically, increasing polarization (likely due to confusion).
Trump's rhetoric, if not overtly racist, at least seems to communicate the message to a lot of mouth-breathers out there that it's okay to at least be nonchalantly hateful and bigoted, which could be (and, in my opinion, likely is) telling people who would otherwise control such impulses that it's totes OK to no longer rein in the bigotry.
Statistically speaking, out of a population of roughly 320 million, it would make sense that there are at least a few thousand neo-Nazis and possibly as many as a couple hundred thousand alt-righters, if alt-right means something akin to "extreme, fundamentalist conservatism that falls just short of being a skinhead."
This is an interesting discussion and I think the issue of parameters here is one that is also relevant when talking about other nebulous groups, like the tea party back in the day and--currently--the antifa crowd.
Re the last, the issue is particularly important, given the calls to officially label antifa as a terrorist organization.
As to the alt-right (which contains a number of specific groups who deserve the "terrorist" label every bit as much as antifa), I think there's a real ebb and flow at work there. Because big mouth on twitter often lose interest on the supposed "causes" that they pretend to champion, though they can quickly be replaced by new big mouths. I think it works that way IRL, too. I would guess that if there was an alt-right meeting at the Boise Denny's one year ago and there was another one today, there would be a lot of the same faces. But there would also be new faces today and missing faces from last year. The total could be larger or smaller.