David Neiwert’s “Alt-America”


Dave Neiwert

Author Dave Neiwert / Gil Aegerter

You might have seen David Neiwert’s latest book “Alt-America” on the register at Darvill’s. It’s a beautiful book with an American flag on the cover, and it discusses the alt-right in America in the age of Trump. Now, you might be thinking, why should I read “Alt-America” when I already have a near-constant stream of political articles flooding my Facebook on a daily basis? However, we are at a turning point in American history, we are at a political and societal spot where the electorate must advocate for itself and be the means to communicate with the masses. Innovation is happening rapidly, but social justice has not yet been able to keep up. In today’s America, the alt-right (and, Neiwert points out, the alt-left too) is growing, expanding, and influencing.

Neiwert starts “Alt-America” off with a history of the radical right. The alt-right has fabricated stories, including bizarre theories of the Constitution, but they believe it to be true. So how did all these people (mostly young men) start believing in the alt-right’s philosophy? The answer might be surprising: video games. The alt-right is far more organized than most people want to believe. As people (mostly teenagers) went from playing video games, to talking in video game chat rooms, to going to online pro-alt-right chat rooms, the passionate people of the alt-right spread their beliefs to others.

Most people appreciate the silence, but not Neiwert. That is not to say that Neiwert enjoys non-stop noise; he enjoys the peace and spiritual renewal of the San Juan Islands and of our local orca populations. But societal silence on issues of social injustice is dangerous. People take silence, turning away, or inaction against them as approval for their actions and beliefs. “Just having to think about hate crimes is a downer, perfectly understandable, but the result is that the hate festers in the darkness,” said Neiwert.

Always a good English student, Neiwert started his journalism career in high school, working for his school newspaper. From there, it was off to the University of Idaho. He went from reporting sports to news, to being the editor at a local newspaper called “The Sandpoint Daily B.” Neiwert has a long-running relationship with the Southern Poverty Law Center, and social justice is at the cornerstone of many of his works. The Idaho native now lives in Seattle and owns a vacation home on San Juan Island.