What About the Alt-Left?

“What about the alt-left that came charging
at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?” What about the alt-left? The term “alt-right” has become quite the
buzzword in the United States since just before the 2016 presidential election. It was coined by prominent white supremacist
Richard Spencer, who advocates for a “peaceful ethnic cleansing” of the United States. The term “alt-right” doesn’t describe a particular organization,
but rather a movement defined by racism and white nationalism, and, of course, a disdain
for multi-culturalism. Spencer was a featured speaker at the Unite
the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. During the rally, a supporter of the alt-right
drove his car into a group of counter-protestors, killing Heather Heyer, and maiming two others. This wasn’t the only violent act committed
by the Unite the Right attendees. A member of the Ku Klux Klan who joined the
rally alongside members of the alt-right fired a gun at counter-protestors. Several other white supremacists at the rally
beat DeAndre Harris, injuring his spine, breaking his arm, and lacerating his head. To learn more about the alt-right and the
rally in Charlottesville, I highly recommend checking out Shaun’s wonderful video on the
subject. In the immediate aftermath of Charlottesville,
President Donald Trump responded by saying, “What about the alt-left that came charging
at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt? I’m not finished, Fake News. And you have, uh, you had a group on one side
that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. You had a group on the other side that came
charging in without a permit, and they were very, very violent.” So, what about the alt-left? Did they engage in similar forms of violence
at the rally? Did they murder or maim anyone? Have they ever engaged in similar forms of
violence? For that matter, do they even exist? Let’s address the first question first. Did counter-protestors at Unite the Right
engage in similar forms of violence to the far-right protestors? When Trump talked about “both sides”, he was
referring on one side to: A. Neo-Nazis
B. The KKK C. Alt-Right, white ethnonationalists and
D. Various other racist hate groups One of whom fired a gun into a crowd of protestors;
one of whom drove a car into a group of protestors, injuring several and killing one; and some
of whom beat a black man and hospitalized him. And on the other side to anti-fascist protestors
who had come to demonstrate against fascism, ethnonationalism, racism, and genocide, and
also to protect each other from harm. And as far as I’ve been able to tell, no charges
were pressed against any of the counter-protestors. If I’ve missed something, please bring it
up in the comments. I’d be happy to highlight it. But what I know for sure is none of the counter-protestors
maimed, killed, hospitalized anyone. So the answer to this question, did counter-protestors
at Unite the Right engage in similar forms of violence to the far-right protestors, is no. President Trump implied a false symmetry when
he asked, “What about the alt-left?” Second, do far-left groups ever murder or
maim people? Well, yes. But it’s extremely rare. According to a report by the Anti-Defamation
League, from 2007 to 2016, extremists in the United States killed at least 372 people. About 24% of these were killed by domestic
Islamic extremists, 74% were killed by other right-wing extremists, and about 2% were killed
by left-wing extremists. While we’re on this point, I just want to
point out to you that you are 3x more likely to be killed by a right-wing extremist than
you are to be killed by a Muslim terrorist. The face of domestic terrorism in the United
States is white, not brown. So, finally, does the alt-left actually exist? In a word, no. The name “alt-right” was given to itself by
the right. The name “alt-left” was also invented by the
right. The term seems to have first appeared on right-wing
corners of the internet and was popularized by noted Fox News conspiracy theorist Sean
Hannity. According to Snopes, the term “alt-right”
does refer to an actual movement, while the term “alt-left” is primarily a rhetorical
device used either to imply an equivalency between radicals on the left and on the right
or for left-leaning moderates to criticize those who they see as spoilers. You can always take a collection of people,
vaguely draw a circle around them, give it a name… but that does not make them an equal
but opposite force. The right can whoever they like whatever they
like. But it is incumbent on them to show that there
is an equality. So, if there is not alt-left, why do people
keep asking, “What about the alt-left?” This is part a prevalent fallacy known as
“whataboutism.” You know the old joke, if you look up term
x in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of person y next to it? Amusingly, if you Google “whataboutism,” you
will see a picture of Sean Hannity next to Google’s summary of the Wikipedia entry. Whataboutism is a logical fallacy that attempts
to discredit an opponent’s position by charging them with hypocrisy without directly refuting
or disproving their argument. I told my dad I was working on this video,
and he said to me, “I thought the alt-left were antifa”, so I think I need to address
this point. Antifa exist. They are very loosely organized. They do not call themselves the “alt-left”. The alt-left isn’t a real thing, but antifa
are. I explained to my father that antifa were
not violent at Unite the Right. They didn’t murder anyone. They didn’t maim anyone. He then said, “They didn’t destroy a bunch
of property?” I said, “No, not at Unite the Right.” He said, “In Berkeley?” And at that point I had to explain that he
was conflating the Berkeley event with Unite the Right. I think this understandable based on the propaganda
that has been shown on Fox News, and in particular on Tucker Carlson’s show. To be clear, the Berkeley event and Unite
the Right are not the same thing. Antifa were at both. Antifa peacefully organized and protected
one another at Unite the Right. Antifa did damage property at Berkeley, and
they threw bottles, and somebody used pepper spray. Even so, none of this is comparable to the
harm done by the alt-right. Tucker Carlson is a white nationalist who
is given a platform on Fox News. His show is popular. Millions tune into watch. “Yesterday was the year anniversary of the
Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which a woman was fatally struck
by a car that was driven into the crowd. If you followed the hyperventilating press
coverage leading up to yesterday’s event, you probably expected to see thousands of
hooded klansman showing up on horseback in D.C. to commemerate and celebrate the killing. White supremacy is just that prevalent in
America they tell us. It’s everywhere.” Tucker Carlson opens a segment called “Violence
on the Left” by reminding us that, “a woman was fatally struck by a car at Unite the Right”
without mentioning who was driving, or that he intentionally plowed into a crowd of people. He also failed to mention the other acts of
violence by white supremacists at the rally. The brutal beating of DeAndre Harris by six
men armed with deadly weapons. Or the gun fired into a crowd of counter-protestors. “Except it’s not. That’s a lie. White supremacy is not ubiquitous in America. It’s not a crisis. It’s not even a meaningful category. It is incredibly rare. People who tell you otherwise are either delusional
or trying to control you with fear. Likely both. What is a crisis in America, and a growing
crisis, is left-wing extremism and violence. In D.C. they attacked police with bottles,
fireworks and eggs — keep in mind this not the far right, it’s the left. Cops on motorcycles were pushed as they tried
to pass through the crowd. Back in Charlottesville an NBC News reporter
was assaulted by a screaming progressive. Watch this. Screaming leftists in black face masks throwing
bottles and calling for the destruction of America and the murder of the president…
you know how CNN described this group? As quote, ‘anti-hate groups,’ because their
hate isn’t really hate, it’s the opposite of hate, even if it’s exactly the same as
hate.” He goes on to argue that white supremacy isn’t
anything to worry about, and yet violence on the left is a national crisis because,
for instance, they’re throwing bottles? What kinds of bottles? What kind of harm did the bottles do? Did they hit anyone? Did they injure anyone? Were they glass? Were they plastic? Were they full? Were they empty? My father also protested, “there were bad
people on both sides.” There were not bad people on both sides. At least not in any meaningful way. Antifa is short for anti-fascist. That’s not only what they are in name, but
opposing fascism is broadly what their movement is about. Antifa came to peacefully protest against
fascism and fascists. Nazis for instance. Nazis are bad. This used to be something we all agreed upon. Was the US bad for stopping Nazi Germany? Of course not. Would you argue that there were good and bad
people on both sides in World War II? I hope not. Although it’s probably technically true, it’s
not an argument a person would make in good faith. When Trump said, “What about the alt-left?” Berkeley hadn’t happened yet. Berkeley may have been largely a response
to Charlottesville. People saying, “We’re not going to let this
sort of thing happen again.” And I think that’s understandable. Why did Donald Trump ask, “What about the
alt-left?” He did so to deflect the negative attention
the alt-right was receiving after Unite the Right. In other words, he did so to defend the alt-right. Why would he do such a thing? We’ll discuss this in a future video, “White
Nationalism in the White House.” And why does the myth of the alt-left persist? It stems partly from a belief in symmetry. We seem to automatically assume, if there
is an alt-right, there must be an alt-left, too. But it turns out that the left and the right
are not symmetrical. So where does this belief come from? This will be the topic of a second future
video, “The Political Left and Right: A False Symmetry.” So, the next time someone asks you “What about
the alt-left?” kindly send them a link to this video. If you enjoyed this, please click the Like
button, share it with your friends, and subscribe so you won’t miss upcoming topics. Thanks for watching.

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