Understanding and Dealing with the Alt-Right

The fallout from the weekend’s Charlottesville events continues. Trump’s news conference tirade yesterday unambiguously threw his full support to the white supremacists and their worldview.

The hurt this is inflicting on our whole country is immeasurable.

I want to share two of the most powerful statements I saw today expressing the full enormity of what has happened.

The Nation Can Only Weep” — by the Editorial Board of the Washington Post.

The Looking Glass” by Dave Pell in Medium — a deeply emotional piece in which he tells the story of his Holocaust survivor parents, still alive today, and what it’s like to no longer be able to say that the counrty they came to for safety is one in which “it can’t happen here” when the President himself is abets and stokes the fires of racism, antisemitism and white supremacy.

But at the same time, I would like to share something that gives us most wise and canny council on how to deal with these racist forces and their present-day tactics. A woman I had never heard of before, Emily Pothast, in Seattle, wrote a brilliant piece on Medium titled “I studied the Alt-Right So You don’t Have To: Some Practical Recommendations for Nipping ‘Free Speech’ White Nationalism in the Bud.”

She urges us to do 6 things:

(1) do our homework and learn about these virulent right-wing groups
(2) stop being on their side by buying into their spurious “free speech” arguments
(3) avoid our knee-jerk angry reactions — our outrage is their recruiting tool
(4) listen to what people who have fought white nationalism all their lives have to say — especially people of color (things that work, like challenging these racists to defend their ideas rather than just shouting them down)
(5) “talk to your damn family” — engage in those difficult conversations with people who are close to you
(6) work actively to dismantle the systems of white supremacy

Stay calm, stay focused, stay determined.

[This piece was originally written on August 8, 2017]

Karine Schomer, PhD is a writer, speaker, scholar, political and social commentator, and, by profession, a management & cross-cultural consultant at www.cmct.net and www.indiapractice.com.

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