For those who've forgotten one of the worst elements of the 2016 election, a short refresher is in order. Almost from the moment that Donald Trump descended on the lobby of Trump Tower to make his campaign announcement, an army of online trolls leapt to his defense. They cheered his denunciation of Mexicans as "rapists," they relished his attacks on so-called globalism, and heaven help anyone who dared attack their populist hero.
I'm speaking, of course, about the alt-right, that motley crew of white nationalists, neo-Confederates, and outright Nazis who share a common belief that culture is inseparable from ethnicity. To these folks, Western civilization cannot exist unless it is a white civilization.
The alt-right's primary "contribution" to Trump's election was a sustained, vicious assault on his opponents. I've told my story before. I saw our young daughter photo-shopped into gas chambers, terrible images of dead and dying black men and women plastered all over my wife's blog, e-mailed threats, and terrifying phone hacks. And I was hardly alone. My friend Ben Shapiro endured an avalanche of anti-Semitism. Erick Erickson's family faced a nightmare of threats. There was hardly a conservative Trump opponent who didn't face such trash to some degree. I knew multiple journalists who, for the first times in their careers, legitimately feared not just for their lives but for their family members' lives as well.
In response to this evil movement, Breitbart stood out among prominent conservative outlets, publishing perhaps the most influential apologetic for the alt-right and promoting that piece's co-author, Milo Yiannopoulos, as its premiere writer and personality. Yiannopoulos himself "trolled" and attacked Trump's opponents relentlessly, blasting out anti-Semitic messages at his targets and inspiring legions of Twitter followers to do the same. Meanwhile, Breitbart published bizarre hit pieces against its critics, including a video directed specifically at Shapiro that's chock-full of alt-right language and themes. The site's comment boards transformed into an open sewer, a virtual meeting place for the alt-right.