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Breitbart, the Alt-Right and Charlottesville

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Donald Trump took two days to condemn the white supremacists who instigated violence and spewed hatred during the tragic Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA. He even walked back on those statements and claimed there are still many instances of violence on “many sides.” Initially, many conservative congressmen and media outlets have called out the president for his failure to act quickly by condemning white supremacists. Meanwhile, Breitbart has continued its disgusting defense of the alt-right, a bigoted movement built on the ideas of white-nationalism, or a “rebranding” of white supremacy. The far-right site has been apologetic and has continued to push a theme that it’s continuously targeted by the mainstream media. The defense of the “alt-right”, even following the events in Charlottesville by Breitbart, needs to be noticed.

Breitbart has tried to paint itself in a constant battle against mainstream media. Just a quick read over its comments sections will show how far-right the site has become. Commenters will try to say that Breitbart is constantly being attacked and that the left are the ones who are bigoted. During the election, former head of Breitbart Stephen Bannon, boasted the side had become the major “platform of the alt-right.” Even though this statement is true to a limited extent, the views of the alt-right and other white supremacists have not fully been legitimized by the site. Instead, small undertones within its reporting seem to be legitimized. When the controversial Milo Yiannopoulos contributed as head of Breitbart Tech, he claimed many on the left didn’t understand its nuances and even went as far to argue that only a small minority of the movement holds white supremacist beliefs. With the tragic and violent events in Charlottesville, the site still tries to paint itself as being attacked by the mainstream media. Within a recent article the site ran, they feature several alt-right members who “condemn the violence” and disagree with the mainstream media’s account of the rally. Writers Ian Mason and Amanda House interview members who even try to argue that there were no Neo-Nazi members at the rally. The site seems keen on calling out Black Lives Matter for violence and defended Trump’s early comments calling out violence on both sides without even mentioning white supremacy. The failure to even recognize the Neo-Nazi groups at the event are telling of Breitbart’s disregard for fair and balanced reporting. The Detroit Red Wings even released a statement condemning the event because a white supremacist group used a modified version of the team’s logo by replacing the spokes of the tire with lightning bolts resembling Hitler’s SS force. By running these preposterous headlines and misleading information, Breitbart is slowly legitimizing and giving a voice this movement. This is very problematic, and conservatives and progressives need to work together in order to tamp down on this vile element and convince those susceptible to its views to leave.

A stark difference is seen in the reporting by the National Review. Along with many other established conservative voices, the National Review condemned the white supremacists who used violence and numbers to intimidate. The editors also ran a plea to President Trump specifically calling on him to use the words “white supremacists.” As a leading conservative publication, the National Review needs to take charge and make sure this type of thought is not accepted or tolerated within conservatism or American political discourse. All Americans need to stand united against the alt-right. If Breitbart wants to be considered respectable, then it too needs to stop defending the alt-right and let go of any staff who holds or even remotely defends similar beliefs. Racial superiority is a repugnant idea, and Breitbart cannot continue to give excuses to alt-right members.

Ryan Summers is a student at Ursinus College in Collegeville, PA.

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