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Want to ditch the ‘alt-right’? There's a Google Chrome extension for that

Many Americans have expressed deep concern about the influence of the far right on US president-elect Donald Trump and his team
People protest the appointment of Steve Bannon to be chief strategist of the White House on 16 November in California (AFP)

Reports of people feeling threatened by far right movements have increased since the election of Donald Trump. Now a software programmer has announced that he's created a free Google Chrome extension which replaces the term “alt-right” with “rebranded white nationalism.”

News of the new extension - called the “Alt-Right Denormalizer” - was welcomed by observers on social media, who described the new technology as showing extreme right-wing movements for what they really are.



The term “alt-right” was reportedly coined by Paul Gottfried in 2008 as a way to identify his radically right-wing ideologies, which are defined by an extreme opposition to multiculturalism.

The phrase has since risen to prominence on sites like Breitbart in an apparent effort to rebrand racist white nationalism.

The term was further popularised by head of the National Policy Institute, Richard Spencer, who gave a speech on 19 November at the Institute’s annual conference to celebrate Trump’s victory in Washington DC.

video of Spencer published by The Atlantic showed people in audience raising their hand in a Nazi salute as Spencer called out: “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!”

In his speech, Spencer attacked journalists for their coverage of the 2016 presidential election, quoted Nazi propaganda, said that the United States is meant to be a “white country,” and suggested that many political commentators are “soulless golem” controlled by Jewish media interests.

Trump denounces term

But while many of the movement's leaders have sought to tether their political views to Trump's rise, president-elect Trump has sought to distance himself from it.

Trump denied on Tuesday that he did anything to "energise" the alt-right movement through his presidential campaign.

"I don't want to energise the group, and I disavow the group," Trump told a group of New York Times reporters and columnists during a meeting at the newspaper's headquarters in New York.

"It's not a group I want to energise, and if they are energised, I want to look into it and find out why," he added, according to Michael Grynbaum, one of the Times reporters in the room.

Website omits use of the term 'alt-right'

While many media outlets, such as CNN and the New York Times, are using the term, some websites such as ThinkProgress denounced the use of the phrase.
 
In an article published on 22 November, ThinkProgress said it "will no longer treat 'alt-right' as an accurate descriptor of either a movement or its members," explaining that the term has been used uncritically by journalists as well as the likes of Bannon, who "can boast that he turned Breitbart News into 'a platform for the alt-right' while simultaneously denying any association with white nationalist movements.

'When appending our own description to men like Spencer and groups like NPI, we will use terms we consider more accurate, such as 'white nationalist' or 'white supremacist''

- Politico

"We will only use the name when quoting others. When appending our own description to men like Spencer and groups like NPI, we will use terms we consider more accurate, such as 'white nationalist' or 'white supremacist."

The website also went on to differentiate between the meaning of white nationalist on the one hand and white supremacist on the other.

“A white nationalist is someone who believes the United States should be governed by and for white people, and that national policy should radically advance white interests. White supremacists are a broader and more inchoate group, comprised of those who believe in the innate superiority of white people.

Fear of the 'alt right' movement

A spectrum of Americans of - conservatives and liberals - have felt increasingly threatened by the rise of the "alt right" movement since Trump chose white nationalist media mogul Bannon, as his cheif strategist earlier this month. 

A wide swath of American leaders and organizations, including conservative operatives and minority-rights groups, protested the appointment.

'It’s ugly and it’s angry and it’s nihilistic, and it shouldn’t have a home in the White House'

- Pete Wehner, White House veteran

They expressed deep concern that Bannon will foster an extremist “alt-right” mentality inside the White House and normalize ideas that had thrived only on the fringes of American society.

Before joining Trump's campaign as its CEO in August, Bannon served as executive chairman of Breitbart News, identifying his outlet this summer as “the platform for the alt-right."

The "alt-right" movement is “something that has been on the fringes of American politics, and now it’s mainstreamed and it’s ugly and it’s angry and it’s nihilistic, and it shouldn’t have a home in the White House,” Politico quoted Pete Wehner, a veteran of the George Bush White House as saying.

“Bannon brings it in almost at the heart of the White House," added Wehner.