How the alt-right became racist: A short history of hate, part one

Throughout his just-concluded campaign, Donald Trump was frequently analogized to the monster created by Dr. Frankenstein. The future president — as everyone from his former ghostwriter to critics on both the left and right asserted — was the inevitable byproduct of the political culture of bravado and bigotry that Republican and conservative elites had used to gain votes from people who had no interest in cutting the government.

Whether the GOP will suffer the ruination and death that ultimately befell Mary Shelley’s monster is yet to be determined. Also unknown is the degree to which the anti-Semitic white nationalist movement known informally as the alt-right will be able to use Trump’s election to inject its ideas into the bloodstream of American conservatism and the larger body politic.

This story also has a “Frankenstein” quality on another level. In many ways, the alt-right was invented by Paul Gottfried, a retired Jewish political historian whose age and persona are about as far removed as one can get from the youthful legions of self-proclaimed “shitlords” who roam Twitter 24/7 seeking to serve the man they only half jokingly refer to as the God Emperor.