in Culture

Decoding the language of alt-right racists in America

A primer for the rest of us

In the wake of violence perpetrated by the alt-right movement, I’ve decided to re-evaluate not only my role as a writer but also what I’m choosing to do with the platform I’ve built for myself. That means I’m breaking the coda that guided the 100 posts I wrote on Medium over the course of 100 days: no politics.

The turning point for me wasn’t the death of an innocent woman, or the fact that a bunch of angry Nazis marched through Charlottesville carrying tiki torches. Nah, it was a Tweet. From The Onion.

And I thought, “Well, damn. If not today, then when am I going to speak up?” It’s been over 200 days since Donald Trump, a man whose entire campaign was predicated on a hatred for contemporary American values, was elected president, and every corner of the Internet is a political minefield. So here I am, planting mines. Let’s talk about alt-right code words, shall we?


Popularized by unemployed (oh, the irony) alt-right superstar Tomi Lahren, “snowflake” is a word used by the intellectually lazy to dismiss anyone with whom they disagree. People who use this term are almost always projecting – they mock “super-sensitive liberals” while at the same time being completely incapable of withstanding the slightest barb. Take, for example, this guy:

These are the words of a grown-ass man, nearly twice my age. He’s also the leader of the free world. Let that sink in for a second.

Make America Great Again (MAGA)

Remember those words? Then-candidate Trump campaigned on them. But what the heck do they even mean?

Let’s accept for a second the crazy notion that America is not currently the greatest country in the world. To which point in history do Trump voters (read: white people) want our country to return? To 2008, when the housing bubble burst? To the carefree days before September 11, 2001, when you didn’t have to worry about the NSA spying on you through your webcam?

Or maybe, just maybe, could the predominantly Caucasian voting block who elected Donald Trump be pining for the days when there were less minorities around, TV was in black and white and a woman’s place was in the kitchen, the classroom or behind a secretary’s desk?

I don’t even know what half of that means, but, if the user’s Twitter history is any indication, it’s probably alt-right code for the Illuminati, and/or minorities.

Then there’s this pot-calling-the-kettle-black nonsense.

Wake me when she posts a picture of counter protestors marching in the cover of night, wielding torches (and cars).


Short for “anti-fascist,” this one is a bit more sinister. The term isn’t abbreviated for expediency – rather, the alt-right is trying to take the proverbial bullseye off of fascism. It’s a way to frame the anti-fascist movement as a fringe group that’s just generally antagonist toward conservative values.

You only have to look at the groups using this term to see what’s really going on here:

And this guy:

Oh, okay. It’s not the angry white supremacists carrying tiki torches we should fear, but the peaceful protestors who get in the way of their cars. Got it. Go further down the rabbit hole, and you’ll see the usual liberal boogeymen, like George Soros, trotted out.

I was going to include “social justice warrior” here, but, unfortunately, it’s not just the alt-right using that term. Misogynists, conservatives and just all-around awful people alike have co-opted it to mean “anyone who calls me out for the hateful things I say.”

Hopefully, you found this somewhat educational, even though I made you read way more Twitter posts than you probably intended to see in one lifetime.