Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton traveled to Nevada Thursday to deliver a speech on Republican nominee Donald Trump's ties to the "Alt-Right," a white nationalist sect within the conservative political movement that has grown tremendously during Trump's run for the White House. While Clinton's aim was to knock the GOP nominee with her remarks, members of the Alt-Right are hoping her speech will create for them a national moment to shine.
"No one should have any illusions about what’s really going on here. The names may have changed… Racists now call themselves 'racialists.' White supremacists now call themselves 'white nationalists.' The paranoid fringe now calls itself 'alt-right.' But the hate burns just as bright," Clinton warned the crowd in Reno.
The speech comes a week after Trump's decision to hire Steve Bannon, a former Breitbart executive and Alt-Right hero, as his campaign's new chief executive. Aside from slamming Trump's questionable ties, the remarks attempted to define the Alt-Right as an extremist political philosophy, "presenting a divisive and dystopian view of America which should concern all Americans, regardless of party," according to a statement from by the Clinton campaign Tuesday.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that monitors hate groups, the Alt Right is a burgeoning political movement within American conservatism characterized by its significant presence on social media platforms like Twitter and its use of hashtags and memes to spread its message and harass targets. The SPLC goes on to describe the Alt Right as young, anti-establishment, and organized by a core belief that white identity is, "under attack by multicultural forces using 'political correctness' and 'social justice' to undermine white people and 'their' civilization."
True to the SPLC's characterization, the Alt-Right has found a home base on social news aggregation site Reddit where, in a number of popular sub-Reddit's, members of the Alt-Right cluster, network, and organize campaigns against social justice activists, progressive politicians -- even other conservatives they deem ineffective. It should be perhaps no surprise then that members of the Alt-Right were on Reddit strategizing ahead of Clinton's speech Thursday on the best way to take advantage of her speech.
In a post titled Taking advantage of Hillary mentioning the Alt-Right, a user wrote a day before the speech, "Shillary is going to come out and finger wag about how evil we are and our association with Trump...We should double down on what has been working great for us so far. Frogposting, oven memes, echos, etc. We want to shock people. We want the MSM to jump on this and spread our #whitegenocide memes to all 350 million normies in America. We could get 20 million college students googling what is the alt right' by Friday. This is a huge opportunity for us."
Another post echoed the excitement for Clinton's address as an opportunity for recruitment and publicity for the Alt-Right.
"Does Hillary not know how much attention this will bring to the movement and how it will finally consider us a legitimate 'political' party? Expect a rise in followers after we are brought into the mainstream media light, we must keep fighting the good fight!" one user wrote.
Members of the Alt-Right could be right that Clinton's speech will drive curious, as well as negative, attention to their cause. In fact, in the months since Trump announced his candidacy in June of last year, media coverage of the movement has increased and Google searches for the term "Alt-Right" have skyrocketed along with searches for "Trump," "Breitbart," and "Reddit."