The Women Behind The 'Alt-Right' Women in the movement have built Internet presences around boosting white nationalist ideologies. But journalist Seyward Darby says that outspokenness is at odds with male white nationalists' ideas.
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The Women Behind The 'Alt-Right'

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The Women Behind The 'Alt-Right'

The Women Behind The 'Alt-Right'

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If you've seen footage of white nationalists marching over the last couple of weeks, you've probably noticed that they're mostly young and male. But reporter Seyward Darby found that there are some influential women in the movement, and they're trying to recruit for their cause. Darby wrote about the women of the alt-right for the September issue of Harper's Magazine. And she began by telling us who the self-proclaimed alt-right is.

SEYWARD DARBY: People who believe in white nationalism, who do not like political correctness, who do not like feminists, who do not like Jewish people and who generally think that liberalism and diversity have led to the decline of Western civilization.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Let's talk about the actual women that you spoke to. One of the women was Lana Lokteff. You had drinks with her. She was - sounded pretty forthcoming. You also said that she was charming.

DARBY: Everyone that I spoke to, when I spoke to them, was very friendly, for the most part articulate. They were candid. But I also think that it's in their interest to promote a message of normalcy. You know, they don't want to seem overly combative.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And who is Lana Lokteff? I mean, what is her background?

DARBY: Sure. Lana Lokteff runs an alt-right media company called Red Ice with her husband, Henrik Palmgren, who is Swedish. Lana is American. She's of Russian descent, but she is from Oregon. And when I asked Lana this question about how she and Henrik came to be white nationalists and to make this their cause, she took it back to about 2012, I want to say. So this was around the time of various police shootings of young black men.

And she felt that Black Lives Matter and these other reactive forces were being unfair to white people. And that then sort of spun into a conspiracy about how the establishment, so to speak, is ultimately out to oppress, minimize and silence white people.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: In this article, the point is made that white women put Donald Trump into the White House. And indeed, 56 percent of white women voted for Donald Trump. Do they see this era as a fertile area to attract more women to this movement?

DARBY: Absolutely. I think they really do. And one of the things I asked Lana Lokteff when I met with her was, how would you pitch this to, let's say, a conservative white woman who voted for Trump who maybe doesn't like feminism but is also wary of, you know, being labeled a white supremacist or a member of the KKK or something like that? And she essentially said that the key is to stoke fear - that when she is talking to women, she reminds them that white women are under threat from black men, brown men, you know, immigrants - and really, you know, uses this concept of, you know, a...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: A threat of rape.

DARBY: ...Rape scourge - exactly - to bring them in.

Now, there is another side of the propaganda which is sort of trying to appear like a friendly sorority, you know, a place where you can chat with the girls about, you know, things that white people care about, white people like. And so there's also this element of saying, you know - hey, ladies, come on over. The water's fine.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Where does she see the role of women in this movement? I mean, as we know, it is a movement that is predominantly young white men. You quote the man who runs the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer talking about the wombs of white women belonging to the males in society.

DARBY: Yes, yes. And the women would say that that is as important of a role to, again, perpetuating the white race as fighting race wars, being outspoken, you know, protesting in places like Charlottesville, which they see more as a man's job. And obviously, the tension here is that people like Lana Lokteff and other women that I spoke to are outspoken. They have YouTube channels; they have large Twitter followings because they think that at this point in their movement, the more people they can convince that they are on the right side of history, the better. And that includes appealing to more women.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You reported this out before Charlottesville...

DARBY: I did.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...And what happened. You monitor alt-right chatter online. How did those women view the protests in Charlottesville and the president's reaction?

DARBY: On the whole, I think that they are pleased that they got this attention, that they are, you know, stoking people's frustrations, that they are showing themselves to be a force.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And the president's reaction? Were they happy with that?

DARBY: The president's reaction, they're happy with, I think. The alt-right - Lana actually - I asked her this specifically - I said, you know, what do you think about Donald Trump? And she said, let's be honest; he's not one of our guys. We've never thought that he was one of our guys.

But the more that he does not disavow the things that they believe in and either tacitly or directly supports them, the better.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Seyward Darby - her article "The Rise Of The Valkyries" is published in the September issue of Harper's Magazine. Thank you so much for speaking with us.

DARBY: Thank you so much for having me.

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