Antifa? White nationalist? A glossary for the current political climate

Article Image

W. Kamau Bell is shocked to find brass knuckles and a knife in the bag of this Antifa activist. To learn more about Antifa, watch "United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell" on Sunday at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

Posted: May 3, 2019 12:40 PM
Updated: May 3, 2019 12:40 PM

With today's heated political rhetoric, you've probably heard politicians or pundits hurl terms that weren't even in the dictionary a few years ago:

Alt-right. "Alt-left." Antifa. The list goes on.

What exactly do they mean? What's the difference between a white nationalist and a white supremacist?

Here's a glossary of phrases infiltrating our political vocabulary:

Alt-right

"Alt-right," a self-styled descriptor for many white-rights activists, has become intertwined with the terms white nationalism and white supremacy, said Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism.

"They're disaffected with mainstream conservative speech, (but) they don't want to be associated with overt white supremacist neo-Nazi groups," University of Oregon professor Randy Blazak said.

"They want to express anti-immigration views, anti-multicultural views, economic protectionism."

The term did not exist until a few years ago, when it started gaining traction after white supremacist Richard Spencer coined it, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Blazak said alt-right activists are typically "moderate-income, working-class white males who are left out of the globalization and ... feel left out of all the progress that's happening."

'Alt-left'

Eyebrows and anger rose across the country when President Donald Trump blamed the "alt-left" for violence in Charlottesville, Virginia -- where a driver plowed into a group of people denouncing white supremacists.

But Segal said "alt-left" is a "made-up term" used by people on the right to "suggest there is a similar movement on the left." But there's no equivalent with the anti-Semitic and bigoted groups that call themselves "alt-right," he said.

"Obviously, there are left-wing extremists, but there is no congruence between the far-left and the alt-right," Segal said.

That's not to say there aren't radical leftists who have engaged in violence. But they generally don't use the term "alt-left."

Antifa

The Antifa isn't a group; it's an ideology that stands for "anti-fascist," said Ryan Lenz of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

"They frequently engage in violence to make their point," Lenz said.

He cited a 2012 case in which activists "walked into a high-end restaurant in Chicago where a white supremacist group was eating and literally beat them up with baseball bats."

The term is used to define a broad group of people whose political beliefs lean toward the left -- often the far left -- but do not conform with the Democratic Party platform.

Antifa activists feel the need to get violent because "they believe that elites are controlling the government and the media. So they need to make a statement head-on against the people who they regard as racist," said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

"There's this 'It's going down' mentality and this 'Hit them with your boots' mentality that goes back many decades," he said.

Neo-Nazi

Neo-Nazis are united by their hatred of Jews, but their antipathy has expanded to include other minorities, gays and even some Christians, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Their belief is that Jews are responsible for many social problems, and that Jews control governments, the media and financial institutions, the SPLC says.

The National Alliance is one of the most prominent Neo-Nazi groups in the United States. It calls for the elimination of Jews and other races and promotes the creation of an all-white homeland.

White nationalist

The term white nationalism originated as a euphemism for white supremacy, said Segal of the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism.

At its core, white nationalists want to develop and preserve a white national identity.

White nationalists believe the country "should be built by and for white people," said Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

They "tend to be less about ethnic slurs, less about Nazi slurs, tend to speak more academic language."

But the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Confederates, neo-Nazis, racist skinheads and the Christian Identity can be considered white nationalists, the SPLC said.

White supremacist

White supremacy is the belief that white people are superior to all other races and should therefore dominate society, Segal said.

White supremacists see diversity as a threat. Segal said a popular white supremacist slogan is, "Diversity is a code word for white genocide."

Daryl Johnson, a former counterterrorism expert for the Department of Homeland Security, said recent policies are aligning with the wishes of white supremacists.

"The anti-immigration xenophobia is rising," said Johnson, owner of domestic terror monitoring group DT Analytics.

"US policy is becoming more isolationist -- the building of the (border) wall, the travel ban, mass deportations. These were ideas that I read about 10, 15 years ago on white supremacist message boards. Now they're being put forth as policy."

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter started as a protest slogan and social media hashtag several years ago after the deaths of unarmed black men and women at the hands of police.

It has since spawned a national organization that serves as an "ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systemically and intentionally targeted for demise."

White Lives Matter

White Lives Matter is a loosely defined movement founded in 2015, the SPLC says. It calls WLM the "racist response to the Black Lives Matter movement."

White nationalists, neo-Nazis and other extremist groups had planned to hold a White Lives Matter rally at Texas A&M University in 2017.

Spencer, the white supremacist credited with coining the term "alt-right," was supposed to speak at the event, which was reportedly inspired by the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville.

But Texas A&M canceled the White Lives Matter event, citing safety concerns.

Of course, there's nothing inherently racist in saying "white lives matter" or "all lives matter." But the context is important, Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts said.

"An example of avoidance would be when you hear people say 'all lives matter' in response to the claim that 'black lives matter.' Obviously, all lives matter. But that's avoiding the issue," Pitts told CNN.

"... When we talk about racism, we're talking about systematized oppression, and in order to benefit from systematized oppression, you have to have the power."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 34211

Reported Deaths: 2125
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9761576
Lake3573186
Allen160069
Cass15877
St. Joseph126634
Elkhart126228
Hendricks116671
Hamilton115493
Johnson1097108
Madison58659
Porter53428
Bartholomew50834
Clark49741
LaPorte43023
Howard40428
Tippecanoe3933
Delaware38536
Jackson3821
Shelby37122
Hancock33127
Floyd31839
Boone31635
Morgan27824
Vanderburgh2662
Montgomery23817
White2338
Noble22821
Clinton2271
Decatur22431
Grant21022
Dubois1993
Harrison19422
Henry17211
Greene16924
Vigo1688
Dearborn16821
Monroe16712
Warrick16628
Lawrence15924
Miami1401
Putnam1367
Jennings1304
Kosciusko1271
Orange12622
Scott1193
Franklin1108
Ripley1086
Marshall1021
Carroll932
Daviess8516
Steuben832
Wayne785
Fayette777
Newton7710
Wabash772
LaGrange762
Jasper661
Washington521
Clay511
Jay500
Fulton491
Randolph473
Rush462
Pulaski460
Jefferson451
Whitley413
Starke393
DeKalb371
Sullivan351
Owen341
Brown331
Perry320
Wells310
Benton300
Knox280
Huntington272
Tipton251
Blackford252
Crawford240
Fountain212
Switzerland200
Spencer201
Parke170
Adams171
Posey160
Gibson152
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin110
Vermillion100
Union90
Pike60
Unassigned0167

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 35033

Reported Deaths: 2149
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin5773260
Cuyahoga4369226
Marion266028
Hamilton2642148
Lucas2241242
Pickaway205037
Mahoning1428174
Summit1390172
Butler87429
Columbiana74352
Stark72391
Lorain67859
Montgomery65616
Trumbull56948
Belmont42812
Warren36621
Miami35530
Tuscarawas3423
Ashtabula33834
Medina33723
Delaware33113
Portage32357
Lake30612
Wood28746
Geauga28232
Clark2776
Wayne27250
Fairfield2596
Licking24310
Allen21132
Mercer2107
Clermont2065
Richland1993
Erie17114
Darke16721
Madison1527
Washington11819
Crawford1144
Morrow1071
Greene1015
Ottawa9916
Putnam9114
Monroe7812
Auglaize733
Sandusky7311
Ross712
Hocking694
Jefferson672
Hardin600
Huron571
Williams541
Union511
Muskingum500
Hancock501
Clinton431
Shelby413
Wyandot402
Fulton400
Fayette400
Logan380
Coshocton380
Guernsey351
Preble351
Holmes341
Defiance332
Lawrence300
Carroll303
Brown281
Champaign271
Knox251
Highland231
Vinton212
Seneca202
Ashland200
Athens181
Perry181
Henry150
Scioto150
Paulding140
Jackson140
Harrison100
Adams91
Gallia91
Van Wert60
Pike60
Meigs60
Noble60
Morgan50
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 50°
Angola
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 50°
Huntington
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 46°
Decatur
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 50°
Van Wert
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 50°
Sunny Sunday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events