What’s in a name? “Alt-right,” white nationalism, and the AP.

Like many Americans, the results of the recent 2016 election left me feeling hopeless. I’m deliberately avoiding words like “stunned,” “shocked,” or “speechless,” as all of them would imply that I was somehow surprised by this turn of events. I was not. The moment of shock for me had been earlier in the year, when The Donald was crowned as the Republican party nominee. This was the depressing and inevitable triumph.

Language matters. That’s the lesson we can take away from this. Language matters and rhetoric matters. One of the significant issues surrounding The Donald’s ascent into power is the question of the so-called “alt-right,” the building populist movement built on the idea of white American (male) superiority. The AP’s official stance on the nomenclature is heartening.

Over the next four years, it will be imperative to be precise in our language, accurate in our descriptions, and mindful of our sources. The AP’s stance on the use of “alt-right” is a necessary tool in that tool kit. As John Daniszewski puts it,

We should not limit ourselves to letting such groups define themselves, and instead should report their actions, associations, history and positions to reveal their actual beliefs and philosophy, as well as how others see them.


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