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Posted: August 15, 2017

What is the ‘alt-left’?


What is the ‘alt-left’?
President Donald Trump fielded questions from reporters about his comments on the events in Charlottesville, Virginia and white supremacists. Trump said there was 'blame on both sides' for the violence, referring to anti racism counter-protesters as the 'alt-left.' (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

By Kelcie Willis, Cox Media Group National Content Desk


At a Tuesday news briefing outside Trump Tower in New York, President Donald Trump said the “alt-left” bore some blame for the violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Saturday.

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“You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other, and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and it was horrible, and it was a horrible thing to watch,” he said. “I think there’s blame on both sides.”

“What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right?” Trump asked when questioned about violence at the rally.

But what is the “alt-left”?

According to many experts, there is no such thing as the “alt-left” and the term is simply an attempt by those who subscribe to far-right ideology to shift attention and criticism back to their opponents. 

According to Sean Lawson, associate professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Utah, the “alt-left” is a “direct response to the attention placed on the alt-right, a group with whom many Republicans would rather not be associated.”

In 2016, The Washington Post made a similar argument, saying “alt-left” is used as “a way to point out that there are also extremists on the left,” but said the term has been “coined by its opponents and doesn’t actually have any subscribers.”

The term “alt-right” is itself controversial. 

It is the name that some white supremacists and white nationalists use to refer to themselves and their system of ideals. The Southern Poverty Law Center says the alt-right “is a set of far-right ideologies, groups and individuals whose core belief is that ‘white identity’ is under attack by multicultural forces using ‘political correctness’ and ‘social justice’ to undermine white people and ‘their’ civilization.”

The organization considers it an extremist ideology.

The Associated Press, in its style book for journalists, discourages the use of the term “alt-right” altogether, instructing journalists to avoid it without an accompanying definition, and to use instead “neo-Nazi” or “white supremacist.” 

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