In just one year, the alt right has gone from relative obscurity to being one of the United States’ most visible extremist movements. This stratospheric rise is due in large part to the rhetoric employed during the 2016 presidential campaign, which granted implicit approval to the once-taboo hallmarks of the far right – overt racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, misogyny, and anti-Muslim bigotry.
The alt right capitalized on the moment by amplifying those messages while loudly rejecting mainstream conservatism and its followers (often referred to as “cucks”).
You can’t discuss the alt right without mentioning the “alt lite,” a loosely connected movement of right-wing activists who reject the overtly white supremacist ideology of the alt right, but whose hateful impact is more significant than their “lite” name suggests. The alt lite embraces misogyny and xenophobia, and abhors “political correctness” and the left.
While the alt right has been around for years, the current iteration is still figuring out what it is – and isn’t. And it’s early days for the alt lite, which means both movements’ ideologies are still somewhat fluid, as are the lines that separate them. Numerous examples in our list of “Who’s Who” demonstrate that “membership” in the alt lite does not preclude working with people on the alt right (and vice versa).
What is the Alt Right?
The alt right (short for “alternative right”) is a segment of the white supremacist movement consisting of a loose network of racists and anti-Semites who reject mainstream conservatism in favor of politics that embrace implicit or explicit racist, anti-Semitic and white supremacist ideology. Many seek to re-inject such bigoted ideas into the conservative movement in the United States. The alt right skews younger than other far right groups, and is very active online, using racist memes and message forums on 4chan, 8chan and certain corners of Reddit.
What is the Alt Lite?
The term “alt lite” was created by the alt right to differentiate itself from right-wing activists who refused to publicly embrace white supremacist ideology.
Today, the alt lite, sometimes referred to as the New Right, is loosely-connected movement whose adherents generally shun white supremacist thinking, but who are in step with the alt right in their hatred of feminists and immigrants, among others. Many within the alt lite sphere are virulently anti-Muslim; the group abhors everyone on “the left” and traffics in conspiracy theories, including #Pizzagate, which claimed there was evidence of a child slavery ring operating inside a DC pizzeria. The series of increasingly outrageous lies led to death threats against the pizzeria’s owner and employees, and ultimately resulted in a gunman opening fire inside the restaurant in an attempt to “save” the imaginary children.
Some former alt right cheerleaders, including Mike Cernovich, migrated to the alt lite after refusing to openly espouse the alt right’s explicitly white supremacist beliefs. Like the alt right, the alt lite is largely populated by young people, and has a prolific online presence, using blogs and podcasts to broadcast dissatisfaction with the media and what they sweepingly refer to as “globalization.”
What’s the Difference?
Alt right writer and white supremacist Greg Johnson describes the difference between alt right and alt lite this way: “The alt light is defined by civic nationalism as opposed to racial nationalism,” which is a defining characteristic of the alt right.
But while the alt right and alt lite are theoretically distinct – and include a number of warring factions, as seen at dueling June 2017 rallies in Washington DC – there is crossover between them. There are a number of people and groups who walk the line between alt right and alt lite, to the extent that it’s not always easy – or even possible — to tell which side they’re on. The Proud Boys, an alt lite, right-wing activist group founded by Gavin McInnes and dedicated to “Reinstating a Spirit of Western chauvinism,” is a good example of a group toeing that line; some of their members support alt right figures and events, while others have made a point of steering clear of anything associated with white supremacist beliefs.
Who’s Who: The Alt Right
Andrew Anglin runs the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer. Anglin claims that his website “is designed to serve as a hardcore front for the conversion of the masses into a pro-White, anti-Semitic ideology.” His preferred audience is men, specifically “all disenfranchised and angry White males under the age of thirty,” and he has banned women from contributing content. Anglin promotes the hatred of Jews and the denigration of minorities, particularly black people, and encourages his followers to troll and harass their “enemies” – including journalists and private citizens. Anglin is a self-identified leader of the hardcore faction of the alt right. He also wrote a piece for the The Daily Stormer titled “A Normie’s Guide to the Alt Right,” in which he explains different facets of the movement.
Andrew Auernheimer aka Weev is a white supremacist and anti-Semite, as well as a notorious American hacker and online troll. Reportedly currently living in the Ukraine, Auernheimer writes for the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website, and was responsible for the anti-Semitic flier sent to thousands of networked printers at campuses across the country in 2016, which was a harbinger of the alt right’s efforts to recruit at college campuses. Auernheimer frequently trolls the media, and in July 2017, attempted to insert himself into the showdown between CNN and a Reddit poster who created a video of Donald Trump body-slamming “CNN” in a wrestling match. He has said of the alt right: “Richard Spencer operates a little bit bigger of a tent than I like, but I also feel he’s acting in earnest and a decent and good dude.”
Andy Nowicki aka the Nameless One is the assistant editor of the white supremacist Alternative Right blog, which was founded by alt right leader Richard Spencer. The Alternative Right weighs in on the alt right hot topics, from “white sharia” and racial disparities in IQs, to the distinctions in thought between the “normie” world versus the alt right.” While Nowicki claims he is not a white nationalist, he shares many of those views. As an editor of Alternative Right, he gives voice to the ideology of white nationalists and figures on the alt right.
Augustus Invictus (born Austin Mitchell Gillespie) is a far-right activist, attorney, and speaker from Orlando, Florida. He is a member of the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights, the “military wing” of the Proud Boys. He is also the Sergeant at Arms for the Florida American Guard, a white supremacist group led by Brien James, one of the founders of the Vinlanders Social Club (VSC), a hardcore, frequently violent racist skinhead gang. At the alt right’s June 25 rally in DC, Invictus claimed that while he is not part of the alt right, he stands with the alt right on the issue of free speech. Infighting on the right, he says, just takes energy away from fighting the “real enemy,” which includes the federal government, the lobbyists, and people like George Soros and the Clintons.
Brad Griffin aka Hunter Wallace is the Alabama-based white supremacist behind the Occidental Dissent blog, which celebrates Southern nationalism and the alt right. Griffin has been active in the Council of Conservative Citizens and the League of the South, both traditional white supremacist groups. He is a regular contributor to Altright.com, the online publication run by Richard Spencer and Daniel Friberg. He has also proposed creating an “alt south,” an alt-right version of Southern nationalism that would try to attract a broader range of people who reject mainstream conservatism and embrace some of the tactics of the alt right.
Christopher Cantwell runs Radical Agenda, a racist, “pro-European,” internet radio show/blog that touts its pay-to-view content as “common sense extremism.” Cantwell has a history of promoting anti-police and anarchist rhetoric, but has recently moved toward the extreme right, and spoke at the neo-Nazi gathering in Pikeville, Kentucky. He has interviewed and appeared alongside white supremacists Mike Enoch and Matthew Heimbach, and has written that he abandoned libertarianism for the alt right after seeing that the latter “has better memes.” At the June 25 Free Speech Rally in DC, Cantwell urged the crowd to fight “Jewish influence.”
Colin Liddell is the editor-in-chief of Alternative Right, the website started by Richard Spencer in 2010. Liddell previously contributed to the white supremacist journal American Renaissance. He writes about the notion of racial equality fabricated by the “liberal-leftist media” and the “Jewish propaganda machine.” In his 2012 essay “Is Black Genocide Right?” he writes, “Instead of asking how we can make reparations for slavery, colonialism, and apartheid or how we can equalize academic scores and incomes, we should instead be asking questions like, “Does human civilization actually need the Black race?”
Daniel Friberg is a Swedish businessman, white supremacist, and European editor, and the co-founder (with Richard Spencer) of Altright.com. He is the CEO and co-founder of Arktos Media, which features books by white nationalists, and was one of the founding members of the Motpol think tank, which organized a well-attended alt right conference in Stockholm in February 2017. In his youth, Friberg was active in the Swedish Resistance, a neo-Nazi group.
Daniel J. Kleve runs an online group called “Racial Theocracy,” which promotes the idea that “religious fulfillment comes from the proper expression of racial, social and spiritual consequences.” The group wants “to spread overlooked Right Wing literature.” It also promotes National Socialism as world’s “only hope of a future.” Kleve has set up a pool fund to help pay for travel expenses for people who wanted to attend an alt right rally.
Dillon Irizarry, a military veteran, has been leading the white supremacist group Vanguard America since early 2016. In a speech at the neo-Nazi gathering in Pikeville, Kentucky, a heavily-armed Irizarry claimed that Vanguard America, which is part of the umbrella Nationalist Front organization, has approximately 200 members in 20 different states. The group, which opposes multiculturalism and believes America is a nation for white people,posted white supremacist fliers at universities across the country during the 2016-17 school year. Vanguard America has participated in a number of rallies with alt right figures. In a June 2017 rally in Austin, Texas, Vanguard America appeared alongside members of The Right Stuff and The Daily Stormer.
Greg Johnson is a white supremacist and editor-in-chief of Counter-Currents Publishing and its online compendium, the North American New Right. He has also written for the Occidental Observer, an anti-Semitic online publication.Johnson calls himself a “white nationalist” who hopes to create “racially and ethnically homogeneous homelands for whites.” He holds forums in New York and in the Northwest for alt-right activists and is a leader on the alt right. He and Richard Spencer recently had a falling out over the leadership of the alt right and accusations that Johnson was trying to discredit Altright.com editor Daniel Friberg.
Jared Taylor (also known as Samuel Jared Taylor) is the founder of The New Century Foundation, a white supremacist think tank known primarily for its racist online journal, American Renaissance. The annual American Renaissance conference features extreme right speakers from the U.S. and Europe. Taylor presents himself as a “race realist” who believes that racial differences are real and that it is natural and healthy for groups to segregate along racial lines. American Renaissance generally avoids the cruder bigotry and stereotyping characteristic of many other racist publications, and Taylor himself does not appear to be anti-Semitic. Taylor is sometimes referred to as the “father of the alt right” due to his influence on the alt right movement. He also was one of the main speakers, with Richard Spencer, at a September 2016 news conference to “explain” the alt right movement.
Jason Kessler, of Charlottesville, Virginia, is an alt right activist and white supremacist who claims that a “white genocide” is underway in the United States. Kessler is the president of Unity and Security for America and is a contributor to the racist website VDare.com. He also wrote for The Daily Caller until he was revealed to be a white nationalist. At a May 2017 pro-Confederate rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Kessler reportedly praised racist groups and a Holocaust denier, and was eventually arrested for disorderly conduct. At June’s Free Speech Rally in D.C., he told the crowd that America would be better off if the South had won the Civil War, and advanced conspiracy theories about Jews controlling Hollywood and the media and promoting “filthy propaganda.” Kessler is one of the organizers of the August 12 Unite the Right white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.
Jason Reza Jorjani co-founded Altright.com with Richard Spencer, and is on the site’s board of directors. A lecturer in humanities at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, he is also the editor-in-chief of Arktos Media, known for publishing nationalist philosophers and “New European” materials. Jorjani calls Arktos “the leading press of the alt right.”
Johnny Ramondetta (aka Johnny Monoxide) is a white supremacist and an electrician from Berkeley, California, who is responsible for the podcasts “Paranormies Present” and “The Current Year Tonight,” both of which are promoted on The Right Stuff Radio, a popular alt right site. Ramondetta has produced live-streams for a number of alt right events, including the April 2017 “Battle of Berkeley.”
Lana Lokteff is a white supremacist who runs internet media company Red Ice TV with her husband, Henrik Palmgren. Based in “Sweden and North America,” Red Ice features online TV and radio shows, including Lokteff’s own “Radio 3Fourteen,” that celebrate “European identity and culture.” Lokteff has interviewed numerous white supremacists on the show. She also co-hosts “Red Ice Live,” and “Weekend Warrior,” on Red Ice. In May 2017, Lotkeff appeared in a video segment with Jared Taylor of American Renaissance to discuss “the women of the alt right.”
Matt Forney, currently based in Budapest, Hungary and Lviv, Ukraine, is a white nationalist, anti-Semite, and misogynist who works for Red Ice Radio. Forney, who is active in the alt right, publishes bigoted and hateful rants against Islam, Jews, and women, often on AltRight.com. Forney’s online videos include Holocaust denial tirade “Eric Hunt-The Shoah: The Biggest Hoax of the 20th Century?” Among his virulently misogynistic writings, “How to Beat Your Girlfriend or Wife and Get Away with It,” and “The Myth of Female Intelligence,” Forney’s bigotry extends to people of color, Muslims, and interracial marriage. “Blacks,” Forney says, “do nothing but murder cops, rob and rape people, and bring death and destruction wherever they go.”
Matthew Heimbach is one of the co-founders of the Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP). TWP claims to be the “political arm” of an earlier white supremacist endeavor, the Traditionalist Youth Network (TYN), which was created to attract young people, particularly college students, to the white supremacist movement. In 2016 and 2017, TWP has participated in white supremacist events all over the country, including the neo-Nazi rally in Pikeville, Kentucky. Heimbach is intensely anti-Semitic and a Holocaust denier. Alongside National Socialist Movement leader Jeff Schoep, Heimbach co-chairs the Nationalist Front, an umbrella organization of approximately 20 white supremacist organizations, including racist skinhead crews, Klan groups, and neo-Nazi groups. Heimbach started out promoting conservative causes in college but moved further and further to the right, eventually embracing National Socialism. He showed up at Auburn University in Alabama in April 2017 to “protect” Richard Spencer, who spoke there. Heimbach is scheduled to speak August 12 at the white supremacist United the Right event, where he’ll be joined by other alt right figures.
Matthew Parrott is the co-founder, with his son-in-law, Matthew Heimbach, of the Traditionalist Worker Party, the “political arm” of the Traditionalist Youth Network. The group promotes white supremacy and a racist interpretation of Christianity, and models itself after the European Identitaire movement, which advocates preserving white European culture and identity in Western countries. Parrott, a frequent contributor to AlternativeRight.com, outlined his belief system in a 2013 essay in the white supremacist online journal Counter-Currents. Though he says that he doesn’t wholeheartedly support the philosophies of Hitler, the Klan, or Southern segregation, he sees them as “ideological progenitors and fallen forefathers.”
Mike Peinovich (aka Mike Enoch) of Montclair, New Jersey, is the founder of The Right Stuff (TRS), a racist and anti-Semitic website and well-known voice of the alt right. Peinovich, who frequently appears at events alongside Richard Spencer, hosts a TRS podcast called “The Daily Shoah” which promotes anti-Semitic commentary. Peinovich spoke at the May 13 gathering in Charlottesville in defense of southern monuments, and attended the April 29 neo-Nazi rally in Pikeville, Kentucky. Peinovich blames immigration and diversity policies for the “displacement and genocide of the white race.” He also fixates on anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about Jews controlling the Federal Reserve, banks, media, and foreign policy. At June’s Free Speech Rally, he said, “It’s Jews, we know that it’s Jews. Why do we go to war in the Middle East against our country’s interests, against the interests of our race? It’s because of Jewish control.”
Nathan Damigo, an Iraq war veteran and student at California State University, Stanislaus, founded Identity Evropa in early 2016. The white supremacist student group is concerned with preserving “white American culture” and promoting white European identity. It is also known for distributing racist fliers at dozens of campuses across the country. At the June 25, 2017, Free Speech Rally in D.C., Damigo said that America was founded by white people for white people and was not founded to be a multiracial or multicultural society. In April, 2017, Damigo told a reporter he sees the alt right as “the next natural step to take this decentralized internet-based movement into the real world. We’re trying to create a fraternity and brotherhood for people who have awakened and who see the world in a different light. We want to get the normies’ attention.”
Pax Dickinson was the Chief Technology officer for Business Insider until he was fired after posting a number of offensive tweets attacking the LGBT community, women, Jews, and African-Americans. He has since founded CounterFund, a “crowd-funding platform built by and for the wider alt right counterculture.” Richard Spencer is an enthusiastic supporter, and has said, “the fund might become the most important counter assault against the SJW [social justice warrior] insanity of the past decade.” Dickinson is listed as one of the speakers at the white supremacist Unite the Right rally scheduled for August 12 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Richard Spencer, of Alexandria, Virginia, is a leader of the alt right movement and a symbol for a new generation of “intellectual” white supremacists. Spencer, who wants to see a “new” right that openly embraces “white racial consciousness,” coined the term “alternative right” in an article he wrote for Taki’s Magazine in 2008. He uses the term to refer to people on the right of the political spectrum who distinguish themselves from traditional conservatives by opposing, among other things, egalitarianism, multiculturalism, and open immigration. In 2010, Spencer created an online publication called Alternative Right, where he explicitly promoted white supremacist philosophies. In recent years, Spencer has become more openly anti-Semitic, and now says he wants to establish a white ethno-state in the U.S., where whites can live separately from non-whites and Jews. Since 2011, Spencer has been the President of the National Policy Institute (NPI); he also runs Altright.com, a more provocative iteration of his previous online effort, Alternative Right. The new website is aimed at a younger demographic.
Tara McCarthy is a British alt right media personality who hosts the “Reality Calls” podcast, which boasts the tagline, “Let’s Make Western Civilization Great Again.” The goal of the show is to “help make ethno-nationalist views more socially acceptable, and to educate people on the dangers of globalism and replacement migration from the third world.” She has interviewed numerous white supremacists on the show. She also co-hosts a podcast (with Brittany Pettibone) called “Virtue of the West,” which features interviews with people associated with both the alt right and the alt lite.
Theodore Beale aka Vox Day is a champion of the alt right movement who claims to have popularized the term“cuckservative.” A science fiction writer, video game designer and blogger, Beale is best known in alt right circles for his online blog “Vox Popoli” (Voice of the People) where he posts misogynistic, white supremacist diatribes. Beale’s white supremacist beliefs are on full display in one of his primary talking points: “The Alt Right believes we must secure the existence of white people and a future for white children.” This is an unabashed homage to the white supremacist “14 words” mantra.
Tim “Treadstone” Gionet aka Baked Alaska of Anchorage, Alaska, is a former BuzzFeed editor turned right-wing internet personality. Gionet managed alt lite provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos’s college tour, but just before the 2016 election, made a series of anti-Semitic tweets about Jewish control of the media, which put him at odds with others in alt lite circles, and moved him into the alt right orbit. Gionet has also dabbled in white supremacist tropes, posting a restaurant receipt showing a tip for $14.88, and writing, “Now that Trump won, I’ve decided to start tipping my fellow humans wayyy[sic] more.” At the June Free Speech Rally in D.C., Gionet asked the crowd, “Everyone on the right can agree that they don’t like Islam – is that correct?”
Who’s Who: The Alt Lite
Brittany Pettibone writes science fiction and co-hosts the “Virtue of the West” podcast with Tara McCarthy. The podcast encourages listeners to “reconnect with the traditional values that once made Western Civilization great, including but not limited to the glorification of the nuclear family, motherhood, masculinity, femininity, etiquette, traditional gender roles and love of one’s own culture, race and country.” Pettibone, unlike McCarthy, does not explicitly identify as part of the alt right, but she walks the very thin line that separates that group from the alt lite. Whatever her personal beliefs, Pettibone uses her podcast to amplify the views of the alt right by interviewing members of the movement.
Colton Merwin is a 19-year-old self-identified filmmaker/photographer and activist from Baltimore, Maryland. He emerged on the alt right scene when he organized the June 25 Free Speech Rally in DC, an effort that attracted notable alt right personalities including Richard Spencer and Nathan Damigo (of Identity Evropa). Merwin is also affiliated with the Maryland Proud Boys. Despite his organizing and activism on the group’s behalf, Merwin claims he is not part of the alt right.
Corey Stewart, a failed 2017 Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate, was the state’s Trump campaign co-chair until he was fired for attending an anti-RNC rally in October 2016. Stewart champions the preservation of Confederate monuments in the South, and has defended the “heritage” of the Confederate flag. He referred to his Republican primary opponent a “cuckservative.” Stewart was a featured speaker at the alt lite Rally Against Political Violence on June 25 in Washington, D.C.
Gavin McInnes, Proud Boys leader and Vice magazine founder, currently contributes to an online right-wing outlet Rebel Media. McInnes, who left Vice in 2008, is a co-founder of the Fraternal Order of the Alt-Knights (FOAK), the “tactical defensive arm of the Proud Boys, ” a right-wing activist group founded by McInnes and dedicated to “Reinstating a Spirit of Western chauvinism.” McInnes was accused of anti-Semitism in March 2017, when he posted a video on Rebel Media called “Ten Things I Hate about Jews,” which was later retitled “Ten Things I Hate About Israel.” Even after this incident, McInnis has been criticized by the alt right for refusing to promote the conspiracy theory that Jews control the world. McInnis eschews the white supremacist label and describes himself as a “Western chauvinist” who hails “Judeo-Christian values” as superior to all others.
Jack Posobiec, a conspiracy theorist, author, and vocal supporter of President Trump, organized June’s Rally Against Political Violence, after learning that Richard Spencer would be speaking at the Free Speech Rally. He also helmed the DeploraBall, a 2017 inaugural event that attracted many from the alt right and alt lite spheres. He has enthusiastically promoted a range of lies,including the Pizzagate hoax, and attempted to discredit anti-Trump activists by planting an inflammatory “Rape Melania” sign at a protest event. He was among the protesters who stormed the stage during New York Public Theater’s controversial run of “Julius Caesar,” shouting, “You are all Goebbels! You are all Nazis like Joseph Goebbels… you are inciting terrorists,” and, “The blood of Steve Scalise is on your hands!” Posobiec has clashed verbally with white supremacist Richard Spencer, who called Posobiec’s Rally Against Political Violence “pathetic.” Posobiec is the Washington correspondent for right-wing Rebel Media.
Kyle Chapman, also known as Based Stick Man or the Alt Knight, gained hero status in the world of right-wing activism when, armed with a stick and wearing a helmet, he confronted antifa demonstrators in Berkeley. He has called on members of his recently formed group, the Fraternal Order of the Alt Knights, (described as the “military wing” of the Proud Boys), to battle left-wing groups.
Kyle Prescott is an advocate and recruiter (mainly on social media) for the Proud Boys, a right-wing activist group founded by Gavin McInnes and dedicated to “Reinstating a Spirit of Western chauvinism.” The Proud Boys claim to be “anti-racist, pro-First Amendment, pro-Second Amendment.” They “venerate the housewife and glorify the entrepreneur.” Prescott believes that the left (which he describes as “race-baiters and social justice warriors”) is responsible for most political violence. Prescott attended June’s Rally Against Political Violence.
Lucian Wintrich is a conservative activist and White House correspondent for the The Gateway Pundit, a right-wing blog sometimes associated with the alt right, and known for promoting conspiracy theories and propaganda. During the 2016 campaign, Wintrich organized a “Twinks4Trump” photo series featuring provocative pictures of men wearing “Make America Great Again” caps. In the past, Wintrich identified with the alt right, but told Andrew Marantz of The New Yorker, “For a while, alt-right was the perfect catchall for anti-establishment conservatism. A lot of us are still frustrated that Richard Spencer ruined the term for the rest of us.” Wintrich spoke at June’s Rally Against Political Violence.
Mike Cernovich is a Southern California-based blogger, YouTube personality, author, filmmaker, conspiracy theorist and radio host who has a predominantly right-wing following on social media. He is an unapologetic misogynist, and has claimed that date rape does not exist except as a liberal fiction. Cernovich describes himself as an “American nationalist,” and currently denies being part of the alt right, though that has not always been the case. He once tweeted: “I went from libertarian to alt right after realizing tolerance only went one way and diversity is a code for white genocide.” More recently, he rejected the term “alt right” because of its associations with white supremacists. Cernovich is known for his promotion of the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory, which propagated outrageous claims about child trafficking and culminated in Edgar Welch firing an AR-15 as he entered D.C.’s Comet Ping Pong pizzeria. He is a contributor to Alex Jones’ Infowars.
Milo Yiannopoulos is a controversial media personality and provocateur.While he refers to himself as “the world’s most fabulous supervillain,” and claims to be a conservative and a fearless bulwark against the encroaching forces of “political correctness,” Yiannopoulos is actually an instigator who specializes in attacking groups he dislikes. He has launched vicious trolling attacks against women, Black Lives Matter activists, transgender people and Muslims.