WASHINGTON - In the documentary ALT-RIGHT: Age of Rage, filmmaker Adam Lough looks at the rise of the alternative right movement in America and its ideological components.
The “alt-right” movement, as it is often called, is a political grouping that combines racism, white nationalism, anti-Semitism and populism. The term has been embraced by white supremacists and white nationalist groups when referring to themselves and their ideology, an ideology that emphasizes the preservation and protection of the white race in the United States.
WATCH: 'ALT-RIGHT: Age of Rage' Documentary on the Political Polarization in America
“You can’t define the ideology of the ‘alt-right’ without mentioning white identity,” said filmmaker Adam Lough, who documents the rise of the movement and its leaders before, during and after the violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, August 12, 2018.
The alternative right organized the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville to show its support for preserving Confederate monuments, memorials to the Confederate side of the American Civil War. The rally turned violent when white nationalists chanting racist slogans clashed with counter demonstrators. Many of the counter-demonstrators identified themselves as Antifa, an abbreviation for anti-fascists.
ALT-RIGHT: Age of Rage documents the rally and the violence culminating in the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer, who was run down by a car. The driver, a neo-Nazi supporter, has been charged with murder and other counts. His trial is scheduled for November.
What's fueling the movement?
Lough says various factors, including the economy, immigration and even feminism, have fueled much of the anger in the “alt-right” movement.
“The idea of white Identity and there being a crisis in the country that white people are being pushed to the back of the line, so to say, by people of color, by immigrants, by Muslims, and in a big way, by women. They would prefer that women play the role they had back in America of the ’50s, where they were in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, they feel that women were happier back then when life was better.”
Lough also points out that this extreme fringe conservative movement rejects mainstream conservatism.
“They consider mainstream Republicans to ... have sold out their party, so they reject the mainstream Republican line of the party,” the filmmaker said.
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In his film, Lough shows how white nationalist social media has bolstered the “alt-right” and how the movement was emboldened by President Trump’s controversial comments regarding “alt-right” violence in Charlottesville, saying responsibility lay “on many sides.”
“One can see that Donald Trump has been dog-whistling at the ‘alt-right’ since the very beginning, going as far back as the birther movement,” Lough said. “The birther movement is basically about Barack Obama not being a American U.S. citizen. Being a citizen of Kenya, being a Muslim. So, if you want to go back into Donald Trump’s legacy with the ‘alt-right,’ I think that’s where it starts. I think it ratcheted up during the election and kind [of] came [to] a head with Charlottesville when he at first refused to even condemn the violence that had happened on that particular side by the ‘alt-right,’ and claimed that both sides were evenly guilty.”
Lough also looks at the leadership of the “alt-right” and its role in the growth of the movement.
Among them is Richard Spencer who coined the phrase “alt-right” in 2008. Another white nationalist, Jared Taylor, wrote the book “Racial Consciousness in the 21st Century” and advocates for the creation of an ethno-racial state.
“Jared Taylor is very much the godfather of the ‘Alt-Right’ and of modern white nationalism. He has an incredible influence amongst that group of people. He has “The American Renaissance.” It used to be a magazine, now it’s a website that is viewed on a daily basis by all those in the white nationalist, white pride community.”
The documentary also looks at the antifa, a combustible mix of activists who have become the nemesis of the “alt-right.”
“Antifa is on the polar opposite of the spectrum from the ‘alt-right.’ They are far left, hard left. Antifa runs the gamut from your garden variety socialist, to a more extreme communist to almost a militarily guerrilla warfare style communist, who are advocating violence against the ‘alt-right,’” Lough said.
Lough says long simmering socio-economic forces have given rise to extreme ideological differences, spelling the end for the moderate middle. Sooner or later he says, proponents of the “alt-right” on one hand, and the antifa on the other are set on a collision course.