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What is the alt-right? A refresher course on Steve Bannon's fringe brand of conservatism

Stephen K. Bannon. (Danny Moloshok / Invision)
Stephen K. Bannon. (Danny Moloshok / Invision)

The chairman of Breitbart News will be President-elect Donald Trump's chief strategist in the White House.

Steve Bannon's promotion in the Trump empire — he served as CEO of Trump's presidential campaign — was met with horror from civil rights groups and Jewish and Muslim organizations.

“It is a sad day when a man who presided over the premier website of the alt-right … is slated to be a senior staff member in the people’s house,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said.

Bannon once described Breitbart News in an interview with the Investigative Fund as the "platform for the alt-right," or alternative right. It's a brand of far-right conservatism that generally embraces and promotes white nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia and misogyny.

People who identify as alt-right reject those descriptors as overly simplistic. They believe that what they define as intellectualism and rational thought should guide policy.

According to Breitbart's own "guide to the alt-right," they aren't racist, they're "unapologetically embracing a new identity politics that prioritizes the interests of their own demographic." They aren't misogynist, they "incorporate masculinist principles." (Breitbart does concede in that same article that neo-Nazis, or "1488ers," make up part of the alt-right.)

The alt-right supports the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants and protectionist trade policies. It opposes feminism, diversity, gay rights, globalism, gun control and civil rights.

Professor Thomas J. Main

"The alt-right supports the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants and protectionist trade policies. It opposes feminism, diversity, gay rights, globalism, gun control and civil rights," wrote Thomas J. Main, a professor at the School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College, CUNY, who's writing a book on the alt-right and American politics.

Under Bannon's leadership, Breitbart published headlines including "Bill Kristol: Republican spoiler, renegade Jew," "Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy," "Political correctness protects Muslim rape culture" and "Trannies whine about hilarious Bruce Jenner billboard," as well as articles regurgitating conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton and her staff.

Clinton was hammered by the alt-right for referring to them as a "paranoid" and "radical fringe" and a "basket of deplorables" in an August speech.

The alt-right is considered more extreme than mainstream conservatism. The alt-right and the news sites that serve it are more likely than mainstream Republicans and conservative outlets to peddle in conspiracy theories and memes. It was previously called a fringe movement, but given Trump's victory in the election, alt-righters now consider themselves the political-right mainstream.

On the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, a poster referred to Bannon as "our man in the White House."

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