Editor’s note: Frontpage’s recent article by Matthew Vadum, The Alt-Right is Coming! Hillary Shrieks, exposed the dishonest nature of Hillary’s and the Left’s slanderous attacks on Trump, Breitbart and the “Alt-Right,” revealing that the situation is far more complicated than their smear campaign would suggest. For instance, Clinton and leftists blame individuals such Richard Spencer for the Alt-Right, but it was Dr. Paul Gottfried, Professor Emeritus of Humanities at Elizabethtown College, who actually invented the term for the movement. Below we are publishing Gottfried’s account of the narrative to help clarify matters for our readers.
Last week I was reminded by a call from Associated Press that I had invented the term “Alternative Right.” When I asked about how I had accomplished that, the woman on the other end of the phone referred to a speech I had given in November 2008 in which I urged the creation of an “Alternative Right.” The same caller said that I was considered the “godfather” of what had become Altright, something that the Democratic presidential candidate would be denouncing later in the week. Thereupon I tried to explain in what modest ways I may have inspired the movement that Hillary was about to go after (namely, in a quadrennial ritual in presidential races in which the Democratic candidate accuses her GOP rival of being the second coming of Adolf Hitler).
I pointed out that Altright authors, some of whom I knew, shared my revulsion for the neoconservatives and deplored their influence on the American Right. I also noted that Altright publicists believed that modern liberal democracies had become dangerously fixated on promoting equality; and I’ve made this observation repeatedly in my books. Finally, as someone who had published entire works on the European Right in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (and most recently a book on the career of fascism as a concept), I had provided the Altright with food for thought. This was the case, even if the writers in question didn’t bother to look at my qualifying phrases.
Except for being a very occasional contributor to vdare.com, I am not exactly part of the Altright stable of writers. Recently I expressed interest in an email in writing for Breitbart, which is rumored to have some connection to Altright. Alas, I may have to wait until Hell freezes over before hearing from this website. More importantly, I couldn’t recall until a few days ago that I had spoken to fifty attendants at the H.L. Mencken Club eight years ago on the subject of the “Alternative Right.” I am president of the Mencken Club, and in November 2008 gave an inaugural address, in which I called for an “Alternative Right” to combat the high degree of neoconservative control over the intellectual Right.
This speech may have been a rousing affair, but until someone in the national news service retrieved it a few weeks ago, I had forgotten about my oration. Although I still support the project mentioned in that speech, I’ve never had the means to bring it about. Indeed, I’ve been largely marginalized by both the entire Left and most of the Right since the late 1980s. My works (perhaps we should look at the bright side) do get read but mostly in translation in Poland, Russia, Romania and other Eastern European countries. To link me to the Altright may be more of a stretch than the person from AP was aware of.