On the History of the Term "Alt-Right," "Alt-Left," and Everything Else Under The Sun
The terms "alt-right" and "alt-left" have been thrown around frequently, so I saw it fitting that I give a more complete explanation of these terms on several counts. Q&A format is appropriate here, and it's what I'll use:
Q: Who began using the term "alt-right," when did they begin using it, and for what purpose?
A: The term "alternative right" was coined in 2010 by Richard Spencer when he started his "The Alternative Right" publication. Richard Spencer is a known neo-Nazi, white supremacist, and anti-Semite. Because "alt-right" is a term coined by an actual neo-Nazi, it is NOT an insult, it is a semantic attempt to launder white supremacist ideology into the political mainstream. The term should not be used by Democrats as an insult. The term is to be outright rejected and replaced with neo-Nazism, white supremacy, anti-semitism, and ethno-nationalism, which are the actual ideologies at play.
Q: Who began using the term "alt-left," when did they begin using it, and for what purpose?
A: The first attested use of the term "alt-left" appears to be with Donald Trump after the 2017 Unite the Right rally. Unlike the term "alt-right," "alt-left" did not originate with people who claimed to practice it. Let me be clear; I am not attempting to delegitimize the notion of an alt-left purely because it has been imputed to people by others. Political nicknaming by opponents is a regular part of the political process. With that said, if anyone is to use the term (which I don't), it should be reserved for similarly violent ideologies and not used to describe any run-of-the-mill neoliberal Democrat who disagrees with the GOP idea du jour. As an additional matter, neoliberalism and liberalism are distinct from leftism, but that's a conversation for another time.
Q: Is Richard Spencer really a neo-Nazi, white supremacist or anti-semite?
A: Yes on all counts. As it regards neo-Nazism, Richard Spencer called the election of Donald Trump a "victory of will," a phrase that was a deliberate dog-whistle call-back to Nazi propaganda film "Triumph of the Will / Triumph des Wellens." Richard Spencer has urged his supporters to party like it's 1933, which appears to be a direct reference to the year Adolf Hitler assumed leadership of the Nazi Party and the office of German Chancellor. Richard Spencer has deliberately used Joseph Goebbels' term "Lügenpresse" or lying press to refer to the media. [Let me be clear that the media can lie, and not all claims that the media are lying are related to Nazism. My contest here is with an American citizen who speaks English using a German Nazi term for lying press.]
As it regards white supremacy, Richard Spencer has called for the creation of a "potential racial empire" that would resemble the Roman Empire. He has called for a "pan-European" "ethnostate" that would be accomplished through "peaceful racial cleansing," a process that would occur through treaties and agreements which would legally dispossess non-whites.
As it regards anti-semitism, I introduce a 54 second segment from Richard Spencer's address to the crowd at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville:
"Little f****** k**** [anti-semitic slur]. They get ruled by people like me. Little f****** o******** [slur for someone of 1/8 African heritage] ... I f****** ... my ancestors f****** enslaved those little pieces of f****** s***. I rule the f****** world. Those pieces of f****** s*** get ruled by people like me. They look up and see a face like mine looking down at them. That's how the f****** world works. We are going to destroy this f****** town."
As a sidenote, when discourse like this happens (if you can call it "discourse" rather than the hatred-filled screed that it is), it's problematic to say that there were "very fine people" on both sides. At the very least, if Trump believed that there were certain principled people on both sides, he ought to have condemned speeches like the one I included above.