Terms: The Alt-Left


The "alt-left" is a term that was popularized by conservative media. In the wake of Charlottesville, it is being intensely used by Donald Trump and Fox News. The thing is, there is no "alt-left".

Mark Pitcavage, an analyst at the Anti-Defamation League, said the word had been made up to create a false equivalence between the far right and “anything vaguely left-seeming that they didn’t like.”

The term has been applied to moderate liberals, to extreme liberals, and to groups that protest the alt-right. Liberals are once again validating right-wing epithets - moderate liberals have started using the term for people whose views are too far left for their tastes.

The alt-right was created by Richard Spencer to make white supremacy more acceptable to mainstream conservatives. The alt-right has leaders. It has members that identity as "alt-right". It has an ethos and world view.

The "alt-left" has none of that. No one created a movement. People do not self-identify as "alt-left". And there is no consistent set of beliefs that define the alleged alt-left. Indeed, view points that have been labeled as "alt-left" range from mainstream liberals, to anti-racist protesters of all ilks, to GLBTQ proponents, to antifa, to anarchists, to socialists, and to communists. Many of these groups are not at all compatible in their views. Some of these groups actively oppose each other.

Conservatives are using the term "alt-left" to normalize and justify the alt-right. They make statements such as "the alt-left is as bad as the alt-right". They do this to make supporting racists, sexist, anti-semitic, anti-Islamic, homophobic hate groups more acceptable. They do it to justify discrimination, violence, and murder. They are trying to imply that there is something just as bad on the other side.

But there isn't. Not only is there no real "alt-left", but if you look at the most extreme groups that are being given the label, none of them promote forcing their opponents out of the country or killing their opponents. The alt-right does. There is no equivalence. Extreme liberals, at worst, are rioting, blocking traffic, and fighting with the alt-right. Extreme conservatives are attacking and killing people.

The word for someone who opposes the alt-right, Nazis, and white supremacists is not "alt-left", it is "decent human being". All people should oppose fascism. It isn't a liberal issue or an extremist position.