ADL releases ‘Who’s Who’ guide of alt-right and alt-lite extremists
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ADL releases ‘Who’s Who’ guide of alt-right and alt-lite extremists

Jewish civil rights organization lists 36 key figures of far-right movement at a time of ‘increased public activity’

Eric Cortellessa covers American politics for The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: Richard Spencer, who leads a movement that mixes racism, white nationalism and populism, speaks at the Texas A&M University campus in College Station, Texas on December 6, 2016. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Illustrative: Richard Spencer, who leads a movement that mixes racism, white nationalism and populism, speaks at the Texas A&M University campus in College Station, Texas on December 6, 2016. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

WASHINGTON — Highlighting the growing influence of the alt-right movement, the Anti-Defamation League on Tuesday released a roster of its major players — people ranging from neo-Nazis to conservative politicians to internet trolls.

The storied anti-Semitism watchdog published a new guide — a “Who’s Who?” — of 36 activists and leaders of the alt-right and alt-lite, saying they “personify” these movements “at a time of increased public activity.”

ADL officials said the lists were needed to help understand and track the movements and the various ideologies they represent, underlining concerns in the Jewish community and elsewhere of the growing prominence of hate groups in the US under President Donald Trump.

The alt-right, an amorphous designation that includes among its ranks white supremacists, “white nationalists” and neo-Nazis, sprang from obscurity during the 2016 election cycle to one of the most prominent extremist groups in the United States.

The alt-lite is a term created by alt-right leaders to differentiate themselves from right-wing activists who spurn the white supremacist ideology. Many of its adherents, however, are also extremists and traffic in various forms of bigotry.

“In the past year, members of the alt right and alt lite have been increasingly at odds with each other, even as they hold public rallies to promote their extreme views,” said ADL chief Jonathan Greenblatt. “We want people to understand who the key players are and what they truly represent.”

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt speaking at the organization’s Never is Now conference in New York City, Nov. 17, 2016. (Courtesy of the ADL)
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt speaking at the organization’s Never is Now conference in New York City, Nov. 17, 2016. (Courtesy of the ADL)

The group’s report, which was compiled by its Center on Extremism, aims to increase understanding of these movements’ central characters and how their behavior and strategies are evolving over time.

“While the alt right has been around for years, the current iteration is still figuring out what it is — and isn’t,” said Oren Segal, who directs the ADL’s Center on Extremism, in a statement.

“This is further complicated by the emergence of the alt lite, which operates in the orbit of the alt right, but has rejected public displays of white supremacy. Both movements’ hateful ideologies are still somewhat fluid, as are the lines that separate them.”

Some people on the list are more known than others to the general public.

Richard Spencer, for instance, the leading ideologue of the alt-right who made headlines last December when he “hailed” then President-elect Donald Trump as a crowd made Nazi salutes, is included. So, too, is Andrew Anglin, who runs a neo-Nazi website, The Daily Stormer.

Many of those cataloged, like Spencer and Anglin, are staunch supporters of President Trump.

Corey Stewart, then co-chair of Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign in Virginia, addresses Trump supporters in a Northern Virginia home on Feb. 1, 2016 for an Iowa caucus watch party. (Eric Cortellessa/Times of Israel)
Corey Stewart, then co-chair of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign in Virginia, addresses Trump supporters in a Northern Virginia home on Feb. 1, 2016 for an Iowa caucus watch party. (Eric Cortellessa/Times of Israel)

Corey Stewart, a recently failed candidate for Virginia’s 2017 GOP gubernatorial primary, is listed. During the 2016 election, he co-chaired Trump’s campaign in the state, but was eventually fired for attending an anti-Republican National Committee rally in October 2016. He’s made headlines for seeking to preserve Confederate monuments in the American south.

Milo Yiannopolous is also included. A controversial media provocateur, Yiannopolous resigned as a writer for Breitbart News in February, after he seemed to condone men having sex with boys as young as 13.

Breitbart News, a far-right website, was once run by Steve Bannon, now Trump’s senior counselor and chief White House strategist.

During his tenure as executive chairman, Bannon pushed a nationalist agenda and turned the publication into what he called “the platform for the alt-right.” The ADL vociferously opposed his appointment to a job in the White House.

Many critics, especially the ADL, were disgruntled by President Trump’s unwillingness to condemn his alt-right backers as a candidate, which he later did in an interview with The New York Times after he was elected.

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