Out from the Darkness: The Alt-Right and the Mainstreaming of Antisemitism in the 21st Century

Keesling, Devan, Religious Studies - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Loeffler, James, University of Virginia


The Alternative Right movement entered mainstream American politics during the 2010s. The internet-based movement is deeply racist and antisemitic, trafficking in beliefs about racialized biology, white genocide, and anti-Jewish conspiracy theories. Where does this ideology come from? Is it an outgrowth of traditional Christian theology or a secularist response to American racial anxieties? What role has the internet played in the digitized spread of this racist ideology, allowing the movement to expand globally? In this thesis, I explore the genesis and leadership of the Alt-Right’s antisemitic thought, its change over time, its relationship to religion, and its efforts to mainstream itself in American culture and society. I focus on the question of antisemitism’s role in the Alt-Right ideology and the strange pattern by which its adherents blatantly advanced antisemitic ideas yet claimed innocence through irony, parody, and satire. Deciphering this complex ideology allows us to understand the larger ways in which race, religion, and hatred combine in contemporary American politics and society.

MA (Master of Arts)
Antisemitism, Alternative Right
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