The Vice Video + The Alt-Right
But this Vice Video is eye opening in many ways.
Charlottesville: Race and Terror – VICE News
And Vice is hitting it's stride with their reporting. When most outlets are talking to each other about what's going on in an echo chamber, Vice is talking to those who are there. Then again, the founder had a heroin addiction prior to starting the company... so they're not afraid to get into the underbelly. Which means in depth reporting (note that it's 20 uninterrupted minutes long).
The interviewer doesn't need to be a know it all, just needs to be there, asking questions... and she GOT IN THE CAR.
I couldn't believe she did that, but we need to know what's going on when the cameras are typically off. What it's like in the moments in between the action.
To be blunt, these people they are covering, Alt-Right and White supremacists from the Charlottesville in no way should be given a platform of any type. The video linked today from Vice made me sick to watch. I'll start this post by saying I in no way want to give publicity or kudos to these people.
1: because I'm a human.
2: because I grew up Jewish.
What I want to do, though, is try and break down what's going with these hate groups from a perspective that brings branding into the context - which is a key strategy component for any group trying to grow their message. I don't know everything, but we want answers and we want to know what we can do about it.
First off, this a rebrand.
The Alt-right is no different than their predecessors, but the attempt is to make you forget the historical significance of the Nazis by using different terminology. This is effective for them on two fronts.
- It’s easy for politicians to speak about without having the same taboo words in our culture.
- It’s easy for them to recruit, because the words aren’t associated to that which they grew up to understand as something terrible.
So these words are chosen deliberately to attempt to speak the same message, from a new vocabulary. One that’s updated for a younger generation and can pass through the typical cultural-sniff tests of acceptability.
Luckily, this has been called out from Trump’s latest press conference fiasco.
However, until that point it seemed that Alt-Right became a more acceptable term in the public sphere, until it was given a face by the recent march, and polarized against the non-nazis from the other side.
This contrast, created by those calling out Trump, helped showcase the true identity of those renamed.
When lines are clearly drawn, it's easier for people to choose sides. So a contrast is a key element for group formation, protest, and anit-protest.
At the same time, by diminishing the contrast, Donald Trump also made more "normal" that which was taboo. Which seems to be the bigger hurdle for their movement to take shape, as the very nature of their proposition is extreme.
So their group is determined at this point to appear to be more of a dominant ideology as it is. Which is why you'll hear these people talking like they have some "unawakened" giant.
Which is simply not true.
But the aim is to appear that way.
So the second thing you’ll notice is that they’ve changed attire. By getting rid of the hoods, and switching to “polo and kakis” look they attempt to appear more in the mainstream.
Sure, someone in a white costume appears at the edge of society, they are an outcast crazy playing dress up. But when they come down the street wearing what your friends at the beach bar are wearing...
This is an attempt to signal their position as being more in line with the general population.
Symbols are important, both symbolic leaders of the group, as well as symbols to rally around. There is question whether or not Trump will be their iconic symbol. My guess is not. But regardless, his presence has allowed for an increasing boldness in public, with his "say how you feel" attitude. And a frightening level of people's willingness to publicly espouse these ideologies.
So what can we do about this?
The first is to recognize the strategy and combat it accordingly. Call out these words and brands by their true names. Keeping a clear contrast between each group is actually beneficial for those fighting this as it's about allies and support.
"The main reason, Dr. Stephan explained to me, was that nonviolent struggles attracted more allies more quickly. Violent struggles, on the other hand, often repelled people and dragged on for years.
Their findings highlight what we probably already intuit about protest: It’s a performance not just for the people you may be protesting against but also for everyone else who may be persuaded to join your side. "
from How to make fun of Nazis
The more peaceful the other side is, the greater the contrast. So playing into the violence only draws less distinction between the groups.
Next is that symbols and leaders play a key role here, and it's up to the morally just side to use their own symbols for peace.
Make no mistake, "the wall" was a symbolic element to the Donald Trump campaign that was incredibly effective. What's infused this group is a lofty ideal of that which isn't possible. They make bold claims about a future with no plan or way of actually attaining it.
This is not to say that lofty ideals need to be created that are unachievable, rather that if there is no pictured painted of a better future for those fighting for peace, people will always gravitate towards a message that they believe will help them be better off, even if unlikely. So the left needs a message. Something people can rally around about the future. Play the offense not the defense.
Create a vision for a future that is empowering to those who might gravitate to these hate groups. This means engaging them in dialogue prior, before they move sides and take an extreme position out of desperation.
The internet, like it always done, has helped connect a group with similar ideals. But, it can connect a counter movement too, and it already has.
I see no way that this movement can continue to grow momentum over the long run, to make that leap into actual mainstream. But damage is inevitable before it’s quelled.
Like any movement, this ideology is either building or dwindling. We can go backwards, but not forever. More of a back step. The pendulum always swings back. And the vacuum always get's filled.
Charlottesville: Race and Terror – VICE News