The 2016 presidential campaign seemingly provided several white nationalist, white supremacist, and neo-Nazi groups an opportunity to bond in support of a common goal: the election of Donald Trump.
But as time goes on, the loosely-connected groups comprising the 'alt-right' movement are drifting farther apart as infighting and defections break the bonds forged not so long ago.
Richard Spencer, one of the more widely known members of the 'alt-right', seemed largely unconcerned by recent developments and called the movement's struggles "growing pains".
Kyle Bristow, an attorney and key ally to alt-right leader Richard Spencer said this weekend he was dropping out of politics a day before he was slated to host a white nationalism-themed conference in Detroit, Michigan.
Bristow, a white nationalist lawyer based in Michigan, defected from the movement on Saturday just before his own organization, Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas, was to hold an event in Detroit on Sunday. The event, which was billed as an opportunity to hash out the direction of the anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic alt-right movement, was cancelled.
Spencer, who was slated to speak at Bristow's event, wound up talking to a small group inside a residence instead; but he didn't seem upset about the change in plans.
“I support Kyle in whatever path he chooses to take,” Spencer told Newsweek. “We’re in touch.”
However, losing Bristow means Spencer will have to find another attorney who will represent him should he face continued opposition to his presence at universities and other venues across the country.
Beyond Spencer and Bristow, other 'alt-right' groups are experiencing turmoil as well.
Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website that once served as the de facto homepage for young white supremacists, was uncharacteristically silent Monday about Spencer’s speaking appearance at Michigan State University. When Spencer spoke at the University of Florida in October, in contrast, the website promoted that event. The shift may have something to do with Spencer’s recent alignment with the Traditionalist Worker’s Party, a small, neo-Nazi group that has become a regular fixture at alt-right protests throughout the country over the last few years.
Daily Stormer editor Andrew Anglin lobbed an insult at the Traditionalist Worker's Party leader, Matt Heimbach, over the weekend, saying he is a “good-natured but socially awkward fat kid” and poking fun at the group's attire and affinity for communism.
But as they say, what goes around comes around:
Anglin and Auernheimer were in turn criticized in a public way on the same forum throughout Saturday and Sunday for linking the alt-right to overt neo-Nazism, violence and misogyny. Auernheimer has publically praised Atomwaffen, for example, a neo-Nazi group linked to a string of brutal murders, a move that has caused embarrassment to Traditionalist Worker’s Party and members of the “Southern Nationalist” outfit League of the South, two groups that marched in Charlottesville last August. Anglin has spoken in sadistic terms about white women, going so far as to celebrate the idea of them being raped and physically abused.
And so goes the self-destruction of the 'alt-right', a group characterized well by Ryan Lenz of the Southern Poverty law Center: “Everyone in the alt-right is a malignant contrarian."