George Hawley, assistant professor of political science at the University of Alabama, is the author of important books such as Right-Wing Critics of American Conservatism, White Voters in 21st Century America, and his forthcoming Making Sense of the Alt-Right.
Today in TAC, he has a piece on how “The Alt-Right Is Not Who You Think They Are”. He emphasizes the youthful Generation Z aspect of the movement:
In my experience with the alt-right, I encountered a surprisingly common narrative: Alt-right supporters did not, for the most part, come from overtly racist families. Alt-right media platforms have actually been pushing this meme aggressively in recent months. Far from defending the ideas and institutions they inherited, the alt-right—which is overwhelmingly a movement of white millennials—forcefully condemns their parents’ generation. They do so because they do not believe their parents are racist enough.
In an inverse of the left-wing protest movements of the 1960s, the youthful alt-right bitterly lambast the “boomers” for their lack of explicit ethnocentrism, their rejection of patriarchy, and their failure to maintain America’s old demographic characteristics and racial hierarchy. In the alt-right’s vision, even older conservatives are useless “cucks” who focus on tax policies and forcefully deny that they are driven by racial animus…
The notion that youthful rebellion necessarily leads young people to the left is an additional blind spot in mainstream thinking. To begin with, it is ahistorical. In the early 20th century we saw multiple transgressive movements on the right. Furthermore, as radical leftists of the baby boom generation assumed important positions in politics, academia, and the media, it should not have been shocking to see millennials with a contrarian streak respond by taking embracing right-wing radicalism. Not all such young people, of course, but enough to make waves.
Another good point is seeing the radicalization of the Alt Right as an equal and opposite reaction to Totalitarian Leftism that dominates the college campus:
[M]any people in the alt-right were radicalized while in college. Not only that, but the efforts to inoculate the next generation of America’s social and economic leaders against racism were, in some cases, a catalyst for racist radicalization. Although academic seminars that explain the reality of white privilege may reduce feelings of prejudice among most young whites exposed to them, they have the opposite effect on other young whites. At this point we do not know what percentage of white college students react in such a way, but the number is high enough to warrant additional study.