PERUGIA–The U.S. alt-right movement sprang into public consciousness in the 2016 election, but for how long had it been growing in the shadows? Journalist David Neiwert discussed the rise of America’s so-called “alt-right” at the International Journalism Festival on Saturday.
Mr. Neiwert, a correspondent for the Southern Poverty Law Center, traces the rise of the alt-right movement beginning with conspiracy theories that sprang up in the 1990s. His book Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump was published last year.
U.S. President Donald Trump won the support of an already nascent alt-right movement by encouraging conspiracy theories that Pres. Barack Obama had faked his birth certificate and by advocating deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants, Mr. Neiwert said.
“Trump was doing a lot of winking and nudging in that direction,” Mr. Neiwert said. He said Trump curried alt-right support by doing things like retweeting white supremacist David Duke’s endorsement of him, then denouncing Mr. Duke. “He would do this sort of two-step tango where he would make a step in their direction and then take a step away from them.”
The August 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Va. where one left-wing protestor was murdered was a turning point for the movement, Mr. Neiwert said, because it altered public perception of the movement. “Americans saw at Charlottesville who really were the violent ones,” he said.
Mr. Neiwert answered questions from VICE Italy news editor Leonardo Bianchi.