‘ALT-RIGHT: Age of Rage’ Portends Clash of Political Extremes

In the documentary ALT-RIGHT: Age of Rage, filmmaker Adam Lough looks at the rise of the alternative right movement in America and its ideological components.

The “alt-right” movement, as it is often called, is a political grouping that combines racism, white nationalism, anti-Semitism and populism. The term has been embraced by white supremacists and white nationalist groups when referring to themselves and their ideology, an ideology that emphasizes the preservation and protection of the white race in the United States.

WATCH: ‘ALT-RIGHT: Age of Rage’ Documentary on the Political Polarization in America

“You can’t define the ideology of the ‘alt-right’ without mentioning white identity,” said filmmaker Adam Lough, who documents the rise of the movement and its leaders before, during and after the violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, August 12, 2018.

The alternative right organized the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville to show its support for preserving Confederate monuments, memorials to the Confederate side of the American Civil War. The rally turned violent when white nationalists chanting racist slogans clashed with counter demonstrators. Many of the counter-demonstrators identified themselves as Antifa, an abbreviation for anti-fascists.

ALT-RIGHT: Age of Rage documents the rally and the violence culminating in the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer, who was run down by a car. The driver, a neo-Nazi supporter, has been charged with murder and other counts. His trial is scheduled for November.

What’s fueling the movement?

Lough says various factors, including the economy, immigration and even feminism, have fueled much of the anger in the “alt-right” movement. 

“The idea of white Identity and there being a crisis in the country that white people are being pushed to the back of the line, so to say, by people of color, by immigrants, by Muslims, and in a big way, by women. They would prefer that women play the role they had back in America of the ’50s, where they were in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, they feel that women were happier back then when life was better.”

Lough also points out that this extreme fringe conservative movement rejects mainstream conservatism. 

“They consider mainstream Republicans to … have sold out their party, so they reject the mainstream Republican line of the party,” the filmmaker said.

 

WATCH: Trump Blames Both Sides for Racial Violence at Virginia Rally

In his film, Lough shows how white nationalist social media has bolstered the “alt-right” and how the movement was emboldened by President Trump’s controversial comments regarding “alt-right” violence in Charlottesville, saying responsibility lay “on many sides.” 

“One can see that Donald Trump has been dog-whistling at the ‘alt-right’ since the very beginning, going as far back as the birther movement,” Lough said. “The birther movement is basically about Barack Obama not being a American U.S. citizen. Being a citizen of Kenya, being a Muslim. So, if you want to go back into Donald Trump’s legacy with the ‘alt-right,’ I think that’s where it starts. I think it ratcheted up during the election and kind [of] came [to] a head with Charlottesville when he at first refused to even condemn the violence that had happened on that particular side by the ‘alt-right,’ and claimed that both sides were evenly guilty.”

Lough also looks at the leadership of the “alt-right” and its role in the growth of the movement.

Among them is Richard Spencer who coined the phrase “alt-right” in 2008. Another white nationalist, Jared Taylor, wrote the book “Racial Consciousness in the 21st Century” and advocates for the creation of an ethno-racial state. 

“Jared Taylor is very much the godfather of the ‘Alt-Right’ and of modern white nationalism. He has an incredible influence amongst that group of people. He has “The American Renaissance.” It used to be a magazine, now it’s a website that is viewed on a daily basis by all those in the white nationalist, white pride community.”

The documentary also looks at the antifa, a combustible mix of activists who have become the nemesis of the “alt-right.”

“Antifa is on the polar opposite of the spectrum from the ‘alt-right.’ They are far left, hard left. Antifa runs the gamut from your garden variety socialist, to a more extreme communist to almost a militarily guerrilla warfare style communist, who are advocating violence against the ‘alt-right,’” Lough said.

Lough says long simmering socio-economic forces have given rise to extreme ideological differences, spelling the end for the moderate middle. Sooner or later he says, proponents of the “alt-right” on one hand, and the antifa on the other are set on a collision course. 

your ad here

Confirmation Hearings for Supreme Court Nominee Kavanaugh Open Sept. 4

Confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will begin on Sept. 4, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley announced in a statement on Friday.

Opening statements by committee members will take place on Sept. 4, and the questioning of Kavanaugh will start the following day, the committee statement said. The hearings are expected to last three or four days.

Republican President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh, 53, on July 9 to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. Before he can assume the lifetime job on the nine-member court, the Republican-controlled Senate must vote to confirm him.

your ad here

Confirmation Hearings for Supreme Court Nominee Kavanaugh Open Sept. 4

Confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will begin on Sept. 4, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley announced in a statement on Friday.

Opening statements by committee members will take place on Sept. 4, and the questioning of Kavanaugh will start the following day, the committee statement said. The hearings are expected to last three or four days.

Republican President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh, 53, on July 9 to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. Before he can assume the lifetime job on the nine-member court, the Republican-controlled Senate must vote to confirm him.

your ad here

Charlottesville White Supremacist Protest Recalled One Year Later

Sunday marks the one year anniversary of the violent “Unite The Right” protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. Last year’s protest, organized by white supremacists upset over the removal of a statue of a Confederate hero, left one person dead and 19 injured. White nationalists are planning a protest to mark the occasion in Washington. Meanwhile, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and the city of Charlottesville declared a state of emergency ahead of the anniversary. Anush Avetisyan reports.

your ad here

Charlottesville White Supremacist Protest Recalled One Year Later

Sunday marks the one year anniversary of the violent “Unite The Right” protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. Last year’s protest, organized by white supremacists upset over the removal of a statue of a Confederate hero, left one person dead and 19 injured. White nationalists are planning a protest to mark the occasion in Washington. Meanwhile, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and the city of Charlottesville declared a state of emergency ahead of the anniversary. Anush Avetisyan reports.

your ad here

Wildlife Official Who Stirred Fears on Species Law Will Leave Post

The head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is stepping down after a 14-month tenure in which the agency proposed broad changes to rules governing protections for thousands of species and pushed for more hunting and fishing on federal lands, officials said Thursday.

Greg Sheehan will leave the agency next week to return to his family and home in Utah, spokesman Gavin Shire said. He has led the wildlife service since last June as the senior political official appointed under President Donald Trump in a newly created deputy director position.

Under his tenure, the wildlife service moved recently to end a long-standing practice that automatically gave the same protections to threatened species as it gives more critically endangered species. The proposal also limits habitat safeguards meant to shield recovering species from harm and would require consideration of the economic impacts of protecting a species.

That’s alarmed wildlife advocates who fear a weakening of the Endangered Species Act, which has been used to save species as diverse as the bald eagle and the American alligator. The proposed changes were cheered by Republican lawmakers and others who say the endangered species law has been abused to block economic development and needs reform.

A request to interview Sheehan was declined.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had sought to make Sheehan acting director of the 9,000-employee wildlife service, which would have given him certain legal authorities. However, Sheehan was barred from that role because he did not have the science degree required for the position under federal law, Shire said.

Vacancies at Interior

His departure comes amid a spate of vacancies at the Interior Department more than a year and a half after Trump took office. Those include the heads of the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service and the assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks.

Before coming to the federal government, Sheehan worked for 25 years in Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources, including five years as its director.

National Wildlife Federation President Collin O’Mara — who considers Sheehan a friend — said during his watch the service had done good work collaborating with state officials and conservation groups. But O’Mara said there needed to be less emphasis on removing regulations and more on making sure wildlife issues are considered, such as during decisions on energy development.

“Given the magnitude of the wildlife crisis, there’s always more that can be done,” O’Mara said.

Another conservation group, the Center for Biological Diversity, had a more critical response, saying Sheehan’s departure was “welcome news for America’s wildlife.”

“In just one year in office, he inflicted incredible harm on imperiled animals by consistently putting special interests ahead of science and the environment,” said Brett Hartl, the group’s government affairs director.

The Interior Department issued a statement saying Sheehan was “an incredible asset to the Interior team and was tremendous in helping Secretary Zinke expand access for hunting and fishing on over a quarter-million acres of public lands across the country.”

Deputy Operations Director Jim Kurth will lead the agency pending another appointment, Shire said.

your ad here

Wildlife Official Who Stirred Fears on Species Law Will Leave Post

The head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is stepping down after a 14-month tenure in which the agency proposed broad changes to rules governing protections for thousands of species and pushed for more hunting and fishing on federal lands, officials said Thursday.

Greg Sheehan will leave the agency next week to return to his family and home in Utah, spokesman Gavin Shire said. He has led the wildlife service since last June as the senior political official appointed under President Donald Trump in a newly created deputy director position.

Under his tenure, the wildlife service moved recently to end a long-standing practice that automatically gave the same protections to threatened species as it gives more critically endangered species. The proposal also limits habitat safeguards meant to shield recovering species from harm and would require consideration of the economic impacts of protecting a species.

That’s alarmed wildlife advocates who fear a weakening of the Endangered Species Act, which has been used to save species as diverse as the bald eagle and the American alligator. The proposed changes were cheered by Republican lawmakers and others who say the endangered species law has been abused to block economic development and needs reform.

A request to interview Sheehan was declined.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had sought to make Sheehan acting director of the 9,000-employee wildlife service, which would have given him certain legal authorities. However, Sheehan was barred from that role because he did not have the science degree required for the position under federal law, Shire said.

Vacancies at Interior

His departure comes amid a spate of vacancies at the Interior Department more than a year and a half after Trump took office. Those include the heads of the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service and the assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks.

Before coming to the federal government, Sheehan worked for 25 years in Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources, including five years as its director.

National Wildlife Federation President Collin O’Mara — who considers Sheehan a friend — said during his watch the service had done good work collaborating with state officials and conservation groups. But O’Mara said there needed to be less emphasis on removing regulations and more on making sure wildlife issues are considered, such as during decisions on energy development.

“Given the magnitude of the wildlife crisis, there’s always more that can be done,” O’Mara said.

Another conservation group, the Center for Biological Diversity, had a more critical response, saying Sheehan’s departure was “welcome news for America’s wildlife.”

“In just one year in office, he inflicted incredible harm on imperiled animals by consistently putting special interests ahead of science and the environment,” said Brett Hartl, the group’s government affairs director.

The Interior Department issued a statement saying Sheehan was “an incredible asset to the Interior team and was tremendous in helping Secretary Zinke expand access for hunting and fishing on over a quarter-million acres of public lands across the country.”

Deputy Operations Director Jim Kurth will lead the agency pending another appointment, Shire said.

your ad here

Trump Meets with Governors to Address Prison Reform, Recidivism   

President Donald Trump discussed prison reform with governors and state attorneys general at his New Jersey golf club Thursday, part of an effort to increase education, vocational training and other opportunities to make it less likely that inmates will commit new offenses. 

The United States has the largest prison population and the highest per-capita incarceration rate in the world. The majority of inmates are held in state facilities, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. 

White House officals said the group represents states that have implemented reforms similar to those backed by Trump. The mostly Republican group included governors from Kentucky, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and North Dakota, as well as attorneys general from Florida and Texas. 

Trump is pushing a bill that has passed the House of Representatives that would provide $250 million over five years to fund education, vocational training and rehabilitation programs within the federal prison system. Participating inmates get credits toward early release or serving the rest of their sentences in halfway houses or home confinement. 

The prison reform bill, “Formerly Incarcerated Re-enter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act,” is also known by its acronym the First Step Act. 

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, has been working with congressional allies to move the First Step program forward. 

First Step Act

Ryan Streeter, director of domestic policy studies with the American Enterprise Institute, said First Step uses “evidence-based interventions to help people get the kind of training they need, the attachment to the community they need, and the things that we’ve seen actually work in a research-based environment.”

He says there is growing congressional consensus on the need for sentencing reform, but initiatives have faced roadblocks. Streeter sees the legislation as an effort to ensure that when inmates reach the end of their sentences, they don’t end up back behind bars within five years, which is what happens with more than 75 percent of the prison population. 

The First Step Act is a “back end” type of prison reform, meaning it focuses on cutting prison time once people are incarcerated. A “front end” initiative focuses on reducing the amount of people sent to prison and the amount of time they spend there by making changes in the process of arrest, prosecution and sentencing.

The bill focuses solely on the federal prison system, which is only a small part of the overall U.S. prison system. Critics say the bill does not address the main causes of mass incarceration: prison sentences that are too long, and too many incarcerated people. For example, the bill would not reduce or limit mandatory minimum sentences for minor drugs offenses. 

A separate piece of legislation — a broader criminal justice reform bill co-written by senators Chuck Grassley and Richard J. Durbin — is also moving though the Senate and has received bipartisan support.

​The Washington Post is reporting that administration officials are pushing for a deal that would combine the Senate bill and the First Step Act, including provisions that would allow judges to issue sentences shorter than mandatory minimums for low-level crimes. 

The deal may face opposition from within Trump’s own administration, particularly from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has come out in strong opposition to any measures that would change mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines. 

Support from minorities

Racial disparity is a huge problem in the U.S. criminal justice system. African-Americans are incarcerated at more than five times the rate of whites.

 According to the Sentencing Project, 1 in every 10 black men in his 30s is in prison or jail on any given day.

Last week at the White House, Trump met with a group of urban pastors to discuss prison reform. Attendees said the president essentially came out in support of broad-based reforms to the criminal justice system.

Criminal justice reform

A number of polls, including one by the American Civil Liberties Union Campaign for Smart Justice, have shown that the majority of Americans support criminal justice reforms and believe the country’s criminal justice system needs significant improvements. 

The U.S. makes up about 5 percent of the world’s population but has 21 percent of the world’s prisoners.  According to the World Prison Brief, an online database providing information on prison systems around the world, 655 people were incarcerated in the U.S. per 100,000 population in 2016.

your ad here

Both Trump and Democrats See Positives in Ohio Election Results

In U.S. politics, President Donald Trump and Republicans are claiming victory in a special congressional election in Ohio seen as a possible bellwether for the November midterm elections. While the race officially remains too close to call, both major political parties see encouraging signs in the results, as we hear from VOA National correspondent Jim Malone in Washington.

your ad here