How alt-right racists made the main­stream

Dayton Daily News - - IDEAS & VOICES - By Jack Hunter Jack Hunter is the pol­i­tics editor at Rare.

In the spring of 2016, I wrote that Bre­it­bart provo­ca­teur Milo Yiannopou­los’s praise for white na­tion­al­ists who help form the “al­tright” could lead some young minds to­ward that pu­trid ide­ol­ogy. Both Yiannopou­los and many of his fans ac­cused me of at­tempt­ing char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tion.

“You sound like the left, Jack,” was a com­mon re­frain. “You’re bash­ing con­ser­va­tives us­ing left­ist tac­tics.”

To many on the right, there’s noth­ing worse than be­ing on the left. Even ex­plicit racism, ap­par­ently.

De­spite call­ing white na­tion­al­ists like Richard Spencer and Jared Tay­lor “in­tel­lec­tu­als” and “rene­gades” (my pri­mary ob­jec­tion to Milo) in his alt-right “guide” in March 2016, in ad­di­tion to play­ing foot­sie with racists in other ways, Yiannopou­los had al­ways de­nied that he was in any way help­ing pro­mote white na­tion­al­ism.

Last week, we learned that Yiannopou­los had di­rectly en­abled and col­lab­o­rated with white na­tion­al­ists.

“Here’s How Bre­it­bart And Milo Smug­gled Nazi and White Na­tion­al­ist Ideas Into The Main­stream,” read the head­line at Buz­zfeed News, as re­porter Joseph Bern­stein used pri­vate emails he ob­tained to con­nect al­tright dots be­tween for­mer Trump ad­viser and Bre­it­bart editor Stephen Ban­non, Yiannopou­los and others, that led to at least one fir­ing.

We also learn that in pre­par­ing for his alt-right guide, Yiannopou­los emailed white na­tion­al­ists for in­put.

“I think you’ll like what I’m cook­ing up,” Yiannopou­los wrote to Devin Saucier in March 2017. In ad­di­tion to help­ing edit on­line white na­tion­al­ist site Amer­i­can Re­nais­sance, Saucier “is as­so­ci­ated with the Wolves of Vin­land, a Vir­ginia neo-pa­gan group that one re­porter de­scribed as a ‘white power wolf cult,’ one mem­ber of which pleaded guilty to set­ting fire to a his­toric black church.”

Ar­guably worse than his co­zi­ness with Saucier was Yiannopou­los reach­ing out to An­drew “Weev” Auern­heimer, who helps run the neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer. In Au­gust of this year, Auern­heimer urged his fol­low­ers to dis­rupt the funeral of Heather Heyer, the woman killed by a white na­tion­al­ist in Charlottesville, Vir­ginia.

In ad­di­tion to seek­ing in­put from Auern­heimer for his guide. Yiannopou­los once tried to book the neo-Nazi on his pod­cast be­fore Bre­it­bart’s up­per man­age­ment shot it down. “Great provoca­tive guest,” Yiannopou­los wrote, “He’s one of the fun­ni­est, smartest and most in­ter­est­ing peo­ple I know . ... Very on brand for me.”

I shared this Buz­zfeed story on so­cial me­dia af­ter it broke last week. Those who al­ready did not like Yiannopou­los didn’t seem sur­prised by the rev­e­la­tions. Some who had once been Milo fans were both­ered by it.

But a siz­able, more wor­ri­some re­ac­tion came from those who in­sisted the Buz­zfeed story was merely a left­ist smear job.

Eigh­teen months ago, Yiannopou­los’s de­fend­ers were out­raged that any­one would as­so­ciate him with open racists. Now, af­ter learn­ing that Milo warmly as­so­ci­ated him­self with open racists, it doesn’t seem to bother some.

This isn’t good. That more Amer­i­cans might be less re­pulsed by neo-Nazis than they once were – or even those rub­bing shoul­ders with neo-Nazis – is un­set­tling. Even if it’s just to spite the left, which is the de­fense some will­ing to dis­miss the Buz­zfeed story seemed to set­tle into.

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