I have a new peer-reviewed journal article (my first!), which I co-authored with Chip Berlet: “Rural Rage: The Roots of Right-Wing Populism in the United States.” This analysis of the U.S. Patriot movement is part of the “Forum on Authoritarian Populism and the Rural World” published by the Journal of Peasant Studies. It includes 243 endnotes, if that’s your kinda thing.
I did a short interview with Its Going Down about the meaning of the Christchurch massacre and how we should respond.
“IGD: What are the main takeaways from the massacre in New Zealand?
Spencer Sunshine: Unfortunately these attacks are depressingly common, but here are some thoughts:
1) While our hearts go out to New Zealand’s Muslim community, we shouldn’t look at this as not just targeting them—just as we can’t look at the 2018 Pittsburgh massacre as just targeting Jews or 2015 Charleston massacre as only targeting the black community. Nazis and other White Nationalists target a huge range of people, including: black folks and all other people of color; religious minorities, including Muslims & Sikhs; both religious and secular Jews; feminists; immigrants and refugees; Communists, socialists, and anarchists; antifascists; LGBTQ people; interracial couples—as well as anyone who stands in their way or stands up to them, including white, Christian, cis-het men. They are at war with almost everybody in our communities. Here, truly, and injury to one is an injury to all.”
Read the entire interview at It’s Going Down
My extensive timeline, with a summary, of U.S. Alt Right and related Far Right activity imn 2018 is now up!
“While 2018 was not the banner year that 2017 was for the Alt Right and others on the Far Right, it was still a period of intense activity.
The Alt Right’s winning streak, which started in 2016, ended ingloriously in March 2018 with the collapse of one of its largest groups after a sex scandal, coupled with the cancellation of Richard Spencer’s failing college lecture tour. The movement has been in the doldrums since. Some Alt Lite groups—including Joey Gibson’s Patriot Prayer, but especially the Proud Boys—had an unexpected comeback earlier in the year between the spring and fall.
In addition a large number of Far Right candidates, ranging from neonazis to veterans of armed Patriot movement occupations, entered the Republican primaries. Some advanced to the November general election. The one-year anniversary of the deadly Charlottesville rally appeared to be a peak month of action for the Far Right, with many groups feeling the taboo against public demonstrations had expired. But the action that attained the most visibility, the Unite the Right 2 rally in Washington, DC, was a dismal failure.”
See the full timeline and summary at Political Research Associates.
“A large number of candidates with ties to the Far Right ran for office in the 2018 midterm elections, mostly as Republicans. They ranged from neonazis to mainstream Republicans who courted the Far Right for support.
This analysis looks at thirty-five candidates with documented Far Right ties. It found that eleven of them lost primaries, and twenty-four ran in the general election. While a number of candidates won their primaries, no non-incumbents with clear Far Right ties won office on the state or national level. And of the incumbents, only three were re-elected. At the same time, the Democrats re-took the U.S. House, breaking the Republican’s two-year domination of the Executive branch and both national legislative bodies. Clearly, 2018 showed that the electoral arena was not an avenue the Alt Right—or others on the Far Right—could use to advance political power. While Donald Trump gives their movement leverage, his surprise 2016 presidential victory has not translated into electoral successes for other candidates.”
Read the full analysis and election results at Political Research Associates.
The good people at Splinter did an interview with me recently. We talk about how many white people hold Alt Right-style views, the different organizing strategies that the Alt Right and Alt Lite use, and what everyday people can do to counter white nationalism.
I’m back on the Last Born in the Wilderness podcast, talking with host Patrick Farnsworth about what the Alt Right is up to these days, the Proud Boys gang attack in NYC, and what kind of preparations we should be making as the U.S. continues to spiral into a racist delirium.
In the light of the bombings of liberal figures, racist murder of two black folks, and the massacre in the Tree of Life synagogue, I argue that we must pressure mainstream groups to cut off the oxygen to the Far Right. There are three approaches we should focus on:
“One, the mainstream must push back against the demonizing and conspiratorial language used by Trump and others. Mass media outlets must stop allowing themselves to be a conduit for Trump’s lies (and, in some cases, stop actively working to promote them), and cease allowing the spread of demonizing and bigoted ideas in general. For example: Twitter could remove Trump for violating its terms of service, but it simply lacks the will. USA Today had no obligation to print a recent Trump op-ed on Medicare that was filled with lies.
Two, we must push mainstream conservatives to break links with the more extreme members of their party. For example, on October 12, a Manhattan GOP club hosted “alt-right” figure Gavin McInnes. This bigot has had a long career of openly calling for violence, and afterwards, his followers (at least one of whom was at Charlottesville) engaged in a gang-style, 30-on-3 attack against counterprotesters. This powerful GOP club in a posh neighborhood should be held accountable for bringing in violent actors.
Three, we must pressure digital companies to remove content in order to burst the echo chambers where far right activists have their views reinforced and are egged on to violence. The many instances where content is removed after violence shows that outside pressure is effective in forcing platforms to do it.”
I have a short piece about the racist mob attacks in Chemnitz, Germany; the similarities between the Alt Lite and the German Islamophobic party AfD; and what this may mean for the U.S.
“A sudden surge of anti-immigrant mob attacks in eastern Germany has renewed fears of another wave of xenophobic violence like the one that swept the country in the early 1990s. The most recent spate of violence began on August 26, after the arrest of two men—one from Iraq and one from Syria—following a murder of a 35-year-old man during a street festival in the city of Chemnitz caused an angry right-wing mob of 1,000 to rampage through the city, hunting down and attacking foreigners. The next day, 6,000 people gathered for a second far-right march, giving Hitler salutes and chanting anti-immigrant slogans, and overwhelmed police.”
What the is the future for the Alt Right and Alt Lite, especially for their street-fighting wings?
“One year after the deadly fascist-led rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the U.S. Alt Right is stumbling to regain its footing. Only a small number of White Nationalists came to Washington, DC rally for a rally on the one-year anniversary. While this doesn’t represent the movement’s strength, the public backlash against the Alt Right has significantly damaged it, and it has been unable to regain its former position. However, the more moderate wing of the movement, the so-called ‘Alt Lite,’ is in far better shape—both in its political orientation and strength in the street.”
My new guide, “40 Ways to Fight Nazis: Forty Community-Based Actions You Can Take to Resist White Nationalist Organizing” has just been published by SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice). It outlines forty legal actions—the majority of which are available to people of all backgrounds, identities, and skill levels—which help to contain and neutralize White Nationalist organizing, as well as the damage it inﬂicts to communities.