Review: Making Sense of the Alt-Right

Making Sense of the Alt-Right Making Sense of the Alt-Right by George Hawley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hawley traces the history and influences on the rise the Alt-Right from the inside perspective rather than the traditional narrative bandied about by most media outlets. In doing so, he provides a nuance that traditional media does not have space for but that nuance is not a defense or apology for the Alt-Right and what they stand for but rather, a deep need to understand what drives people to embrace what many (rightfully) see as a hateful, fear-based, and ignorant agenda. Like any good history, Hawley illustrates the predecessors to the Alt-Right and some of their influences of the 1980s and 1990s--particular white nationals and white supremacist groups (yes, there is a distinction to them; even if to others it is a distinction without difference). From there, he shifts into exploring the pivotal role of the Internet and the thriving communities the arose over the 2000s and 2010s along with the moments of harmony and discord as the different groups that compose the Alt-Right shifted from a more elitist discourse to justify their racist believes to one that often embraces a mixture of chaos, trolling, and gaslighting. What strikes me about Hawley's work is that he does well with articulating how the Alt-Right asserted itself and saw itself as supremely different not just from the general right in the US (both are uncomfortable with one another, yet both have fed each out consistently over the last 50 years). Additionally, it proves enlightening (though not necessarily rewarding) to discover how even some of those most associated with the Alt-Right by mainstream society (Richard Spencer, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Steve Bannon) are largely disliked, disregarded, or disdained by the Alt-Right. In total, Hawley's work is useful (albeit slightly nauseating) book exposing a group that needs to be understood in order to minimize the damage and harm they represent.

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