The Atlantic

Was Charlottesville a Turning Point for the 'Alt-Right'?

A longtime observer of its online haunts argues that the hodgepodge of people united by antagonism to PC culture were irrevocably divided by the deadly violence at last month’s rally.
Source: Joshua Roberts / Reuters

The journalist Angela Nagle spent years on some of the most transgressive fringes of the web to write Kill All the Normies: Online Culture Wars From 4Chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right. Her book traces the alt-right from its origins in an irony-laced digital counterculture of “shitposters” and trolls to the role it played in 2016, when antagonism to PC culture helped its members to unite around Donald Trump.

In an interview on Ezra Klein’s consistently worthwhile podcast and a recent article, “Goodbye Pepe,” published at The Baffler, she discussed her book-length analysis of that trajectory. She argued that the alt-right subculture that she has observed for so long and described in such painstakingly reported detail may no longer exist––that it seems to have changed irrevocably after the parade of Nazis and the killing of an anti-racist protester in Charlottesville, Virginia.

* * *

A passage in Kill All the Normies argues that “the alt-right has more in common with the 1960s left slogan that it is forbidden to forbid than it does with anything most people recognize as part of any traditionalist right.” Take the anonymous message board 4chan.

“The 4chan thing is that they’re not conservatives. They very much reject conservatism,” Nagle told Klein. “They

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