Think Twice Before You Call Someone “Alt-Right”



The term “alt-right” is one of the hottest political buzzwords of the last few years. According to Wikipedia, alt-right is defined as a loosely connected and somewhat ill-defined far-right movement. It contains white supremacists, white nationalists, white separatists, anti-Semites, neo-Nazis, neo-fascists, neo-Confederates, Holocaust deniers, conspiracy theorists and other hate groups. All in all, a very unsavory group.

When it comes to denouncing everything that the alt-right stands for, I’m all in. Racism, anti-Semitism, and all manners of hate have no place in our modern society, and we as a people should do everything we can to dissuade these evils. However, one way to not only not destroy but in fact bolster this terrible movement is by mislabeling people who are not alt-right as alt-right.

This act of declaring someone alt-right who isn’t is so damaging because it not only dilutes the meaning of what actual alt-right values are, thereby leading to the term losing its meaning and power, but also because many use this tactic of mislabeling as an attempt to stifle viewpoints they disagree with. And every time someone non-hateful and non-threatening, as victims of alt-right mislabelment usually are, has their viewpoint silenced, free speech grows a little weaker.

The most recent of these despicable attacks has been upon Democratic candidate for the 2020 election Andrew Yang. Even before any further facts are presented, consider how bizarre it is for Andrew Yang, an Asian Democrat, to be labeled alt-right, a group that, as previously mentioned, consists of white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Unless he is the first of some rare breed, it is highly unlikely that Asian Democrat Andrew Yang associates with white supremacists.

The reason for the sudden faux, alt-right fervor around Andrew Yang is because of his recent appearance on The Ben Shapiro Show. Ben Shapiro, for those unaware, is a conservative political commentator, writer, lawyer, and a frequent target of alt-right mislabelment. Despite his open criticism of the alt-right and the fact that Shapiro is an Orthodox Jew, many still try to lump him in with a group containing neo-Nazis. The same people that mistakenly categorize Ben Shapiro as alt-right have now done the same with Democrat Andrew Yang, simply because he dared to have a conversation with someone on the other end of the political spectrum.

The hour long conversation between Yang and Shapiro was completely calm, rational, and polite; neither party raised their voice, and, in fact, the two men joked around with each other frequently. Despite disagreeing on various policies and topics such as Yang’s proposal for Universal Basic Income and American healthcare, Yang and Shapiro managed to find plenty of common ground in an amicable and rational way, far removed from the fiery discourse that American politics have become since the 2016 election.

In a broader sense, their conversation represents the direction the United States should be moving in the future: Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, hashing out their differences in a calm and reasonable way. This type of peaceful discourse is what fuels positive change and action, not the political zealotry currently rampant on platforms like Twitter.

Unfortunately, all of this positivity is being mostly overlooked now that many have chosen to dub Andrew Yang alt-right. News headlines, televised debates, and general discussion will now trend towards whether or not Andrew Yang is alt-right (spoiler alert: he’s not), choosing not to instead promote the beneficial influence this conversation should have on the public.

More and more, it seems as if our society only likes to focus on what is controversial, not what is positive. And when there is no controversy and should be no controversy to begin with, people have taken to creating controversy to fuel the outrage culture that has spread like a wildfire through modern American political discourse. Attempting to shutdown or “cancel” people by wrongfully calling them alt-right is merely a facet of this pernicious issue.

Andrew Yang is merely the latest victim of alt-right mislabelling, but there will surely be more to come in the future, especially as we move closer and closer to the 2020 election. However, it is my hope that as more people begin to speak out against what is essentially slander, this fad will slowly die out and become merely an unfortunate stain on our country’s history.