The crowd shouted ’Heil the people! Heil victory,’ after talk on race.
Richard B. Spencer/National Policy Institute
It’s come to this: a tiny group of alt-righters have seized the national media’s attention by aping Adolf Hitler in public.
At a recent conference attended by a few hundred, a freshly minted celebrity white nationalist named Richard B. Spencer led enthusiasts in contrasting his virtuous “people of the sun” with the “soulless golem” of the pro-Jewish media. Nazi-era buzzwords were shouted. Nazi-style salutes were thrown.
And the media ate it up. It’s now all but impossible to browse through social media without coming across one of several all-too-glibly-fascinated nu-Nazi profiles quickly ginned up by sites hoping to cash in on this latest and most outrageous kind of clickbait.
“We’ve crossed the Rubicon in terms of recognition, Spencer himself said of all the attention paid to his conference hosted by the “National Policy Institute,” an alt-right think tank that openly espouses racist views.
Doubtless, there’s a crying need to make clear to Americans that today’s far right, just as opportunistic, represents a uniquely perilous combo of the foolish, the malevolent, and the smug. At the same time, you’ve got to hand it to gobsmacked critics asking aloud in disbelief how respected news outlets dare “normalize” these people.
But perhaps the normalization concept is dangerously misleading in its own right. To be precise, the nu-Nazis aren’t being normalized so much as glamorized. And in a world where everyone’s desperate to be paid attention and branded as attractive, the new glamor is an even more powerful—and volatile—weapon than the new normal.