Far-right activists hope to use alt-lite label to distance themselves from white supremacists
White supremacists march on Charlottesville, VA during the August 2017 "Unite the Right" rally that left a woman dead. Image via Karla Cote/Creative Commons.

A subset of far-right activists are seeking to distance themselves from the problematic label of “alt-right.”

As The Intercept reports, in the days since Charlottesville, the far-right has adopted yet another phrase to identify followers of its ideology, this time in an apparent effort to ward off claims of racism and neo-Nazism.

The term, according to followers of this allegedly milder ideology, is “alt-lite.”

Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes, who founded the “Proud Boys” movement, says his group does not tolerate racial discrimination. Instead, their interest is in “Reinstating a Spirit of Western chauvinism.”

On his “Rebel Media” YouTube show, McInnes said that while the alt-right is made up racial chauvinists, the alt-lite is made up of cultural chauvinists.

But critics doubt that is much of a distinction.

"The split between the white nationalists of the ‘alt-right’ and the often racist demagogues of the 'alt-light' is strategically significant, and factored into the far-right’s failure to mobilize further post-Charlottesville,” the Intercept's Leighton Akip Woodouse writes. “But the actual difference between the two may be more a matter of style than substance.”

McInnes publicly disavowed the so-called “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, weeks before it took place.

The Anti-Defamation League describes the movement as "a loosely connected movement of right-wing activists who reject the overtly white supremacist ideology of the alt right, but whose hateful impact is more significant than their “lite” name suggests. The alt lite embraces misogyny and xenophobia, and abhors “political correctness” and the left.

(Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the Proud Boys played a prominent role in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.)