The proverbial racist uncle has a younger, hipper ally this year.
The Matrix screengrab via Warner Bros
As you're no doubt aware, literal Nazis who call themselves the "alt-right" (but to be clear: they are Nazis) have carved out a niche for themselves in the political discussion this year. Richard Spencer, the white supremacist who essentially founded the alt-right, praised the election of Donald Trump in a convention speech on Saturday. But he also said Trump is not the Aryan messiah who will bring about the white supremacist fantasy he calls the "new normal," but merely "a step towards this new normal."
So anyone spoiling for a fight with their proverbial racist uncle on this unusually tense Thanksgiving could be in for some unusually heavy artillery on the opposing side. American racism just received an injection of young blood, and your racist uncle might suddenly have an ally in that cousin of yours who always posts Breitbart articles on Facebook.
And things will really take a turn if that guy decides he wants to redpill you after you pass him the gravy.
"Redpill," for the blissfully unaware, is a slang term in certain alt-right-adjacent internet communities like the men's rights crew. It refers to that famous Matrix scene where Neo takes the red pill and sees things as they really are. When alt-right dudes use it, they generally mean "convince other white people that we're better than others," and many of them are not shy about trying to redpill their friends and families.
"It's a new label for an old idea," said Ryan Lenz, who gathers information on hate groups for the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project, and edits their Hatewatch blog. Trump's presidential win has been a big validating moment for the alt-right, he told me, and, "once it feels validated, it seeks to take on adherents, and what better place to start than with those around you: your family and friends?"
So this Thanksgiving, if you hear some ideas that sound a little to the right of President-elect Donald Trump, it might be your redpilled cousin trying to bring you into the fold. Here are some tactics he might use:
A "both candidates sucked" warm-up round
Jonathan Tracy, a 33-year-old Trump supporter from Connecticut, told me he spends a lot of time reading politics on 4chan and Reddit, and that they "definitely helped shape some of my views this election" (Though he assured me that they hadn't converted him to white supremacy). Tracy told me he knows how to find common ground with his hippie mother: by trashing both candidates.
"My whole argument over the Thanksgiving table boils down to the fact that while Trump is a terrible person, his flaws are superficial," Tracy told me in an email. Then he'll transition into making Clinton sound like corrupt DC business as usual. "Hillary's flaws symbolize a much deeper rooted break in the system," he said.
Trump "kind of sucks as [a] candidate to be leader of the free world," but he also represents "at least the chance of change, and that's what I voted for," Tracy added.
Last week, a Redditor named WhiteTideRising put a call out to the alt-right Subreddit for "Strategies to RedPill Your Family Over The Holidays." Thanks to Trump's election victory, the post says, "the ice has been broken, [and] it's time to get more bold with our families."
In the post, WhiteTideRising appears to have a mental block imagines showing his unsuspecting family a few videos, in the hope that as everyone sits down to some post-feast TV, he'll be able to bargain for a chance to show off his taste in programming. "We watched your 42 minute Liberal TV show, now watch this 15 min video of mine!" he predicts he will say.
I won't link you to the content that gets tossed around in that thread, or in other, similar threads, but most of it is pretty intense. For instance, there's a six-hour documentary about the life of Adolf Hitler, framing him has a misunderstood hero. Then there's a shorter video with animation in it that works as a kind of informercial for bringing back segregation. If you've never had the pleasure of going down a white supremacist propaganda YouTube rabbit hole, you may not have been exposed to these videos, but they've been there for years, and their presence on YouTube gives them an air of legitimacy that they maybe don't deserve.
Still it would be pretty uncomfortable trying to fit one of these in while the Steelers-Colts game is at halftime.
Another Redditor named Sputumbolus claims that he tried to win his family over, but warns other users to "be prepared to find out your liberal environmentalist sibling has more tolerance for a transgender criminal illegal alien than for someone with alt right views." A re-formatted excerpt from the dialogue Sputumbolus describes went like this:
Sibling: I'm worried trump's going to take away people's rights!
Sputumbolus: Wha?? Whose rights?!
Sputumbolus: Wha?? They're mentally ill!
Sibling: He'll take away the rights of illegal immigrants who have a baby born in the US.
Sputumbolus: Wha? Laws already exist that should be followed! Trump should enforce them.
Sputumbolus signs off with "Good luck—please do better than i did!!" So it doesn't sound like the combative approach worked very well.
Appeals to your ethnic pride
While videos and hostile argumentation don't sound like the winningest approach in the world, a sneakier way to turn you into a white supremacist might be to point out how much of a bummer immigrants are, as a way of attempting to make you see how gosh-darned terrific white people are. "Say '65 million migrants since 1965,' and then point out which COUNTRIES/REGIONS those migrants have come from," a Redditor named Shitlibboleth wrote. "Do not say what race or what IQ they are. That is too much for the Normie mind," Shitlibboleth added.
Another Redditor named AutoModeratorLoL tried to explain how to keep this strategy moving forward. Most people "naturally" hate undocumented immigrants, according to AutoModeratorLoL, and the topic can be used "as a springboard to transition into talking about the dangers of the Muslim religion." More broadly, AutoModeratorLoL continues, "find an area where you and your family members agree and start there," so that they'll be "more likely to stick with you when you start trying to get them to swallow the bigger redpills."
From there, according to another Redditor named Maldici, the seeds of racism can be planted. White people, Maldici wrote, "simply need to be convinced of the existence of group interests, that they themselves hold them as invested members of a society, and that diversity is contrary to their group interests."
This kind of white supremacist indoctrination in between bites of pumpkin pie may sound downright dystopian, but while it might not happen at Thanksgiving, according to Lenz, Americans may start to see it more and more. "This is a reality," he told me. "They no longer feel like they are ostracized or that they're pariahs either in their family, or in our culture."
Follow Mike Pearl on Twitter.