NEW YORK – Right-wing activists who have tried to distance themselves from the white nationalist "alt-right" movement have slammed the Anti-Defamation League after it included them on a list Tuesday of extreme conservatives it says disseminate hatred.
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“The ADL is trying to get my family murdered,” tweeted Mike Cernovich, who is part of the so-called alt-lite (or "New Right") movement. “There is no reason to add me to a hate list," he added in a video he posted online.
The ADL defined the alt-lite as a "loosely connected movement of right-wing activists who reject the overtly white supremacist ideology of the alt-right, but whose hateful impact is more significant than their 'lite' name suggests."
The organization also noted that while leaders from the alt-lite shun the term alt-right, they are "in step” with the alt-right in their hatred of feminists, immigrants and Muslims.
Its list – called “From Alt Right to Alt Lite: Naming the Hate” – features 36 figures from both groups.
Cernovich is a California-based blogger and radio host who, according to the ADL, is known for his promotion of the debunked "Pizzagate" conspiracy theory concerning Hillary Clinton and a Washington pedophile ring.
In his video, Cernovich cited last month's shooting of Republican congressman Steve Scalise by a man who was known to be a Bernie Sanders fan.
"After the Scalise shooting, there is no question what they are trying to do," said Cernovich, adding, "The ADL is a terrorist organization. They are trying to get people murdered and they are trying to inspire another shooter.”
The ADL rejected Cernovich's complaints, a spokesman telling Haaretz that Cernovich "is known for promoting fake news and conspiracy theories as part of his self-promotion. His narratives are often based on misrepresentations, hyperbole and outright falsehoods. His response to our report seems to be in line with that record."
Another prominent alt-lite member listed by the ADL was Jack Posobiec, who produced DeploraBall – an event for far-right Trump supporters following the president's inauguration in January.
Posobiec tweeted in response to the list that “the ADL has released its list of thought criminals that must be brought up for 2 Minutes Hate and later execution.”
Posobiec organized a “Rally Against Political Violence” in Washington last month, headlined by Trump ally Roger Stone, to compete with alt-right leader Richard Spencer’s “Freedom of Speech Rally" in the city on the same day.
It was Spencer himself who called the splinter group of conservatives "alt-lite," telling the Washington Post last month: “A movement needs a good purge. If these were really top-notch thinkers, scholars, human beings, I might try to reach out to them. Being that they’re not, I think it’s good to just cut off the fat.”
“They are going to look like losers,” he added.
The ADL also listed Gavin McInnes, leader of the Proud Boys, a group of activists dedicated to "reinstating a spirit of Western chauvinism." McInnes has been criticized by the alt-right for his self-professed “pro Israeli" stance.
One person who didn't feature on the ADL list was right-wing activist Laura Loomer. A Jewish Trump supporter, she achieved notoriety recently after rushing the stage during a Shakespeare in the Park performance of "Julius Caesar," to “protect Trump.” She subsequently became the target of anti-Semitic attacks from Spencer
Loomer defended her fellow alt-lite activists. “If ADL claims to fight anti-Semitism, why are they going after people who support Israel in the #NewRight instead of Muslims?” she tweeted. “You know who else made target lists for people he didn't like? Hitler,” she added.
Seeing prominent alt-lite figures on the ADL list generated some gleeful reactions from avowed alt-right activists and veteran white supremacists.
Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who has featured on such lists for decades, tweeted: “When you shill for Jewish Supremacists, attack those who try to expose them and they still put you on the Extremist Hate List."
Duke's tweet did not evade Cernovich's attention, the alt-lite leader responding "David Duke and the ADL are united in hating me," using the hashtag #ADLTerror.
The #ADLTerror hashtag is not the first time Cernovich has targeted the ADL on social media. Last month he tweeted, “Idiots throw up Nazi salutes after inviting media to attend their events. ADL raises millions. I wonder if that’s coordinated?”
He also tweeted: “There’s a lot more money in creating Nazi or Russia panic than in reality. Hence why ADL/SPLC hoax and pay people to do stunts,” he wrote, referring to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Spencer was unable to conceal his excitement at the inclusion of his former allies on the list. “The alt-lite's squealing about being put on an ADL 'hate list' really amuses me,” he tweeted.
Cernovich has previously said he uses "trolling tactics to build my brand." He recently spearheaded a harassment campaign against CNN reporter Andrew Kaczynski over his report on Reddit user HanAssholeSolo, the creator of the infamous Trump-wrestling-CNN gif that the U.S. president retweeted. “We are coming for you. #CNNBlackMail,” Cernovich tweeted, before Kaczynski’s home address and phone number were circulated by Cernovich’s Twitter followers, along with information about his family.
Senior figures in Trump’s inner circle have long offered praise for Cernovich. Kellyanne Conway called his 60 Minutes interview a “must-see ratings bonanza,” while Donald Trump Jr. suggested he should win a Pulitzer Prize for his "breaking" story that Susan Rice, President Barack Obama's former national security adviser, requested that intelligence agencies "unmask" the Trump transition members involved in foreign surveillance. Trump Jr. tweeted about the story 23 times in the 24 hours after Cernovich published the piece, despite the fact that, as a source "close to Rice" told CNN, "There is nothing unusual about making these requests when serving as a senior national security official, whether Democrat or Republican.