Opinion: Extremism in America

Right-wing sentiment and extremism are becoming increasingly mainstream, and it’s having serious impacts on our government.


Ye – formally Kanye West – on Alex Jones’ show, INFOWARS

Christopher Alvarez, General Editor

Extremism. In a political context, it’s a pretty nasty word. Here in the US, and maybe even in the world in general, we have seen a concerning rise in extremism over the past few years. 

We’ve seen a rise in extremism in all corners of the political spectrum, but the most concerning has been the rise in right-wing extremism. Not just white supremacism and racism, but anti-semetism and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric has been growing in popularity as of recently, especially with people like Kanye West promoting their concerning beliefs.

Right-wing extremism can be categorized in 3 groups: racism, nativism, and anti-government sentiment. Racism obviously being the hatred of a specific ethnic group or all other ethnic groups besides one’s own, nativism being only caring for native born and discriminating against immigrants, and anti-government being extremist libertarian groups that are against all forms of government and sometimes form heavily armed groups.

All three of these groups have somewhat merged into a single category called the “alt-right”. The alt-right really started to emerge in the “Unite the Right” Rally in 2017. This event – which was organized by the likes of Richard Spencer, an American white supremacist and Neo-Nazi, and Nicholas J Fuentues, an American white supremacist and holocaust denier – is considered to be the first major emergence of this movement. People like David Duke- the former grand wizard of the KKK- were invited to speak as well, and were well received with open arms by those who attended. This event was met with counter protesters and one person ended up getting killed by a Neo-Nazi when he ran her over with a car. 

Since 9/11, the New America Foundation found that right-wing extremists were responsible for more fatalities in violent attacks within the United States than were any other type of extremists. In addition, the Anti-Defamation League found that murders committed by extremists in 2018 were overwhelmingly connected to right-wing extremist (RWE) groups. 

Most RWE groups have some sort of “golden age” that they want to return to. Different forms of RWE focus on different imagined golden ages – when white men had more power; maybe when Christianity was more dominant; maybe when smaller governments were less involved in different facets of daily life. No matter what, usually these people have some sort of “return to tradition” or “return to better times” type of rhetoric they revolve around. 

Until more recently, these types of right-wingers were only thought to be male and white dominated. However, as the years went by, more and more types of people started to identify with these groups. Most famously, Kanye West has been hanging around white supremacists and questionable individuals like Nick Fuentues and Alex Jones. He went on Alex Jones show and said that he ‘loved Hitler’, that ‘the holocaust didn’t happen’, and that ‘the Jews now are fake Jews and they control everything and push harmful things onto the population like pornography’.

I recently wrote an article on Kanye where I expressed disappointment in his anti-semitic remarks, and said that I wish we could approach him more gently to not provoke him even more. I take that back now. Ye has gone way too far and has been exposing these ideas to his massive audience. Fuentes obviously is using him to push these ideas to be more mainstream. 

The most concerning aspect of this is that it’s working, and extremism is becoming more mainstream in American society. In congress, we have at least 20 congress people who spread far right rhetoric as their main platform, like Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is an outspoken Q-Anon supporter. Recently in congress, Republicans struggled for almost a week to elect a speaker since gaining control of the house. McCarthy, who has now finally been elected as of Jan 9th, wasn’t able to gain the support of almost 20 far right Republicans because they feel he is too moderate for their standards. These republicans were being petty the entire time the process was going on. Matt Gaetz, whose reputation is questionable, went viral for standing up proud and saying “Donald John Trump” when asked to cast his vote for speaker. Eventually, McCarthy was elected, but now has to bend to the will of these Republicans as they can disrupt congress and make his job harder by issuing a recall for him if he does anything they don’t like. 

Along with the concerning number of extremists in congress, there has been a disturbing number of anti-LBGTQ bills proposed across the country. The majority of these bills target transgender individuals, and restrict certain things for them like healthcare. As of 2023, 23 states have proposed anti-LGBTQ bills with a lot of them formally signing them into law. Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and misinformation in general has increased. Things like saying that ‘all LGBTQ people are groomers looking to turn kids gay’ (because… reasons) have been growing among the right-wing space. This kind of sentiment isn’t new either, and has been around for decades and is only now starting to see a reemergence. Painting an entire group of people as predators doesn’t really need an explanation as to why it’s harmful.

It seems like this phenomenon of extremism most likely has no end in sight and only seems to be growing worse as the days go by. All we can do now is hope that we can fight against it and hope the American values of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness are ensured for all Americans in the near future.