he alt-right is a movement which equates American greatness with preserving white Protestant culture. In that sense it is an ethnic movement which emphasizes its own culture at the expense of other cultures.

It often confuses the term “exceptionalism” for racial or ethnic connotations, when in fact the founding fathers of the country understood rights to be universal and inalienable to each person, automatic, just for being a human being, independent from the fortunes and whims of any government. Government is there to secure those rights, not to assign them.

When American identity is not bound with those inalienable rights, it becomes racial   and it corrupts the very idea of exceptionalism, an idea which, when properly understood is the basis of American identity. That identity has nothing to do with ownership of property or one’s genetic background.

On the other hand, the misguided claim that America’s greatness originates in white Christian European culture has become a central tenet of many of Donald Trump’s supporters. The alt-right are convinced that multiethnic democracies cannot succeed.

There is also the alt-right view that many traditional conservatives lack the will to fight the left on cultural issues.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, Bannon described the heart of the movement that he believes has driven Trump to power: “The center core of what we believe — that we’re a nation with an economy, not an economy just in some global marketplace with open borders, but we are a nation with a culture and a reason for being — I think that’s what unites us.”

Bannon has also defined American nationalism in opposition to Islam, especially ISIS’ pretensions to a new Islamic caliphate. Bannon said in 2014 that he is worried about the future of the “Judeo-Christian West” because “we are in an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism … and this war is, I think, metastasizing far quicker than governments can handle it.”

Obviously there is a cultural war going on as we speak and it’s fast coming to a head. What’s at stake is democracy itself which cannot possibly survive within a cultural milieu catering to racism and political white supremacy. It is not clear as to who will come out victorious out this struggle. It’s a struggle for the preservation of democracy, liberty and our very universal humanity. It may be wise to pray for the best outcome but also prepare for the worst which won’t be pretty!

Tagged under
Emanuel L. Paparella, Ph.D.

Professor Paparella has earned a Ph.D. in Italian Humanism, with a dissertation on the philosopher of history Giambattista Vico, from Yale University. He is a scholar interested in current relevant philosophical, political and cultural issues; the author of numerous essays and books on the EU cultural identity among which A New Europe in search of its Soul, and Europa: An Idea and a Journey. Presently he teaches philosophy and humanities at Barry University, Miami, Florida. He is a prolific writer and has written hundreds of essays for both traditional academic and on-line magazines among which Metanexus and Ovi. One of his current works in progress is a book dealing with the issue of cultural identity within the phenomenon of “the neo-immigrant” exhibited by an international global economy strong on positivism and utilitarianism and weak on humanism and ideals.