New Series: Asking “Five Questions”

I am running a new series on my Patreon called “Five Questions.” Each month, I ask these to a variety of people who have knowledge of, experience with, and insights into the Far Right. The interviews are exclusive for supporters at first, but after a month I de-paywall them. So here are what’s open access so far.

2022

February: Dakota Adams
What’s it like to be the son of one of the most notorious militia leaders?

March: Kelly Weill
What did you learn about Flat Earthers by writing a book about them?

April: Shannon Foley Martinez
What is it like to help racists and fascists get away from those politics?

May [coming soon!] Daryle Lamont Jenkins

White Supremacist Massacre in Buffalo Shows “Alt-Right” Ideology Leads to Murder

On Saturday, a white supremacist walked into a supermarket in a Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, and opened fire. He killed ten people and wounded three others; eleven of his victims were Black. The horrific attack showed the influence of other massacres by the terrorist wing of the “alt-right” that took place during the Trump presidency. The conspiratorial ideology of these attacks, once fringe, now can be found in the mainstream right wing. They also fit within the much longer history of anti-Black lynchings and white supremacist violence that have been occurring for centuries.

Six similar far right attacks killed 86 people in 2018 and 2019. Their intended targets were Muslims (51 killed in Christchurch, New Zealand), Latino immigrants (23 in El Paso) and Jews (including 11 in Pittsburgh). The Christchurch massacre set up a template that other white supremacists have followed: writing a lengthy manifesto and placing it on an online platform associated with the alt-right before the violence, and then livestreaming the attack.

read the complete article at Truthout

Amazon’s Still Selling Lots of Nazi Books

Amazon will bring almost anything to your door in a day. Despite numerous exposés, that still includes Nazi books running the gauntlet from “classic” tomes of Hitler-era Germany to standard post-war white supremacist texts up through alt-right writers. … Many classics of Nazi Germany are available, not from scholarly presses with appropriate framing but from racist publishers. Neo-Nazis can enjoy A New Nobility of Blood and Soil by Walther Darré, the Nazi regime’s agriculture minister, or the works of the Nazi economist Gottfried Feder. Those who prefer what’s described as “one of the most highly prized books of the Aryan home” can order The Yearly Celebrations and Life in the SS Family. It has a five-star rating and free shipping with Prime.

Read the fill article at the Daily Beast

Subpoenas Could Show Trump Admin’s Link to Openly White Supremacist ‘Groypers’

The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, Capitol takeover have subpoenaed a wide variety of people, from Trump officials to grassroots activists. And on January 19, 2022, two more were called: Nick Fuentes and Patrick Casey, the leaders of the “Groyper” movement, a white supremacist outgrowth of the “alt-right.” Fuentes believes that “genocide” is being committed against white people, and rails against immigration, the “LGBTQ agenda” and feminism. While relatively minor characters on the national stage, Fuentes and Casey are important to know about for three reasons.

The first is that the Groypers are one of the more successful groups among the openly white supremacist wing of the alt-right, and they have been able to attract mainstream support. The second is if Fuentes and Casey “were involved in the planning and coordination of the January 6 attack … it would show tight collaboration between true white supremacists and the former administration,” according to Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism. Third, the committee specifically pointed out that Fuentes and Casey had “received tens of thousands of dollars in Bitcoin from a French computer programmer.” Calling for — and then cheering on — the takeover of the Capitol after receiving foreign funding would put them in a different category than many of the other involved groups which seem to lack foreign financial connections.

Read the full article at Truthout

U.S. Far Right Wrap-up for 2021

Every year I do a year-end wrap-up of the U.S. Far Right. So here’s what’s happened in 2021 and let’s all hope for a lot less from them in 2022! (Links below for past years)

“Even With Trump Out of Office, the Far Right Continued to Mobilize in 2021”

Although Donald Trump has been out of power for nearly a year, the far right in the United States is still going strong. The January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol was easily the year’s most important event, and its fallout has, in many ways, defined 2021. Arrests, lawsuits and congressional hearings are still ongoing.

Even without Trump’s tweets to guide them, the far right failed to collapse, as many had hoped. Excepting a gruesome mass murder in Denver, Colorado, at the year’s end, the bulk of right-wing violence has been committed by the politically moderate Trumpists, as opposed to open white supremacists — its traditional perpetrators. The Proud Boys have continued their campaign of violence. A split in the Republican Party between the moderates and the Trumpists has likewise failed to emerge. In fact, the latter have arguably only increased their grip on the party. Right-wing conspiracy theories also continue to mutate and gain popularity, especially those about COVID-19.

Read the full article at Truthout.

Past Years
2020 Wrap-up
2019 Wrap-up
2018 Wrap-up
2017 Wrap-up


Online panel: “Nazism, Neo-Nazism and Music”

On November 17, 2021 I hosted my last online panel for a while at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. It’s now available online, so if you missed it here’s your opportunity to check it out at your leisure.

All political movements use music, and National Socialism is no exception. Both Hitler’s Nazis and postwar neo-Nazis have used different kinds of music in various ways. This panel will explore how German Nazis used music to help facilitate mass murder during the Holocaust, as well as how neo-Nazism became entangled with various music-based subcultural scenes and their connections with political organizations. From the NSDAP to the American Nazi Party’s record label, to the Nazi skinhead movement, to NSBM (National Socialist Black Metal) and even fascist reggae, this panel will document and reflect on how, why, and in what ways National Socialism has come to be tied to various musical forms.

This panel is moderated by researcher, writer, and activist Spencer Sunshine and features Luca Signorelli (author of L’Estetica Del Metallaro), Shannon Foley Martinez (consultant for American University’s Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab), Kirsten Dyck (author of Reichsrock: The International Web of White-Power and Neo-Nazi Hate Music), and Edward B. Westermann (author of Drunk on Genocide: Alcohol and Mass Murder in Nazi Germany).

A Festschrift for Chip Berlet

Exposing the Right and Fighting for Democracy:
Celebrating Chip Berlet as Journalist and Scholar

Exposing the Right and Fighting for Democracy: Chip Berlet as Journalist and Scholar, which I co-edited with Pam Chamberlain, Matthew N. Lyons and Abby Scher, has just been released by Routledge. This festschrift—a collection of essays in honor of a scholar, often done at the end of their career—includes an all-star cast of scholars, activists, and of course Chip Berlet’s friends.

Chip has researched, written about, and organized against fascists and the Far Right for four decades, co-founding a think tank dedicated to this, and influencing hundreds, if not thousands, of people along the way.

Although I had already done activism and research on fascists and antisemites, Chip (as he is known to one and all) was the one who encouraged me to get more deeply involved in the work. He solicited from me, and then convinced his think tank, to publish my first major article on this subject in 2008. Later I ended up as a Fellow at that organization.

But more than that, over the intervening years Chip has been a resource and a friend. I’ve asked him for advice many times, and we have done talks together, even co-authoring a journal article. But at the very beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Chip was forced to retire for health reasons. It is with great sadness that the journal article we did together turned out to be his last, and furthermore two talks I booked for him in March 2020 ended up being his final public appearances.

Although I already had written about the Far Right and have a different approach, Chip is the closest thing to a mentor I have had. And in appreciation for him, I and three others—two others who had worked at the think tank, Abby Scher and Pam Chamberlain, as well as Matthew Lyons, the co-author of Chip’s magnum opus, Right-Wing Populism in America—assembled this festschrift together. Chip has been such a mensch over so many years to so many people that our solicitations received an incredible response. Almost everyone we asked, no matter how famous or busy they were, contributed a piece. Indeed, Chip is one of the only people who can be said to have influenced everyone from the militant antifascist movement to the U.S. Justice Department, and this anthology reflects that. The articles themselves range in length from a paragraph to full-length essays. They include both personal and political stories about Chip, analyses of his work, and essays on the Right which are dedicated to him.

I encourage everyone to buy this book, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed working with Chip.

Exposing the Right and Fighting for Democracy: Celebrating Chip Berlet as Journalist and Scholar
Edited By Pam Chamberlain, Matthew N. Lyons, Abby Scher, and Spencer Sunshine

Part I: The Early Years
Part II: Analysis
Part III: Practice
Part IV: Legacy

Read More »

“Leftists on Left-Wing Antisemitism” panel

Tuesday May 4, 2021
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

https://yivo.org/Leftists

There is a robust discussion inside the Left about antisemitism in its own ranks. This is not just related to Zionism, Israel, and Palestine, but also involves questions about conspiracy theories, notions of secret elites, and critiques of financial capital—as well as how to deal with openly antisemitic actors. This unique panel will bring together four scholars and activists on the Left, who have a range of different views to discuss this. What does antisemitism on the Left actually consist of? Where do different parts of the Left stand in relation to this issue? How is it addressed or ignored? And what are constructive ways the Left can better deal with antisemitism?

Moderated by Spencer Sunshine, this panel will feature Sina Arnold, Shane Burley, Keith Kahn-Harris, and Joshua Leifer.

About the Participants

Sina Arnold is a post-doctoral lecturer and researcher at the Center for Research on Antisemitism at Technische Universität Berlin. A social anthropologist by training, her current work focuses on contemporary antisemitism in Europe, memory politics and racism, left movements in Germany and the United States, as well as on (post-) national identities. She is the author of Das unsichtbare Vorurteil. Antisemitismusdiskurse in der US-amerikanischen Linken (2016) and From Occupation to Occupy: An Empirical Study of Antisemitism Discourses in the Contemporary US Left (forthcoming from Indiana University Press). Arnold also has twenty years of experience working in social movements against antisemitism and racism.

Shane Burley is a writer and filmmaker based in Portland, Oregon. He is the author of Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It (AK Press, 2017) and Why We Fight: Essays on Fascism, Resistance, and Surviving the Apocalypse (AK Press, 2021). His work has been featured in places such as NBC News, The Daily Beast, Truthout, Al Jazeera, Jacobin, Haaretz, and The Baffler. He recently edited a special issue of the Journal for Social Justice on “Antisemitism in the 21st Century.”

Keith Kahn-Harris is a sociologist and writer, based in London. He is the author of six books, including, most recently Strange Hate: Antisemitism, Racism and the Limits of Diversity (Repeater, 2019) and Denial: The Unspeakable Truth (Notting Hill Editions, 2018). Kahn-Harris is a Senior Lecturer at Leo Baeck College, Project Director of the European Jewish Archive at the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, and holds visiting fellowships at the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism at Birkbeck College, and the Centre for the Study of Jewish Culture, Society and Politics at Durham University.

Joshua Leifer is an assistant editor at Jewish Currents. Previously, he was an associate editor at Dissent, and before that, at +972 Magazine. His work has appeared in The Guardian, The Nation, Jacobin, n+1, Haaretz, and elsewhere.

Moderator Spencer Sunshine is a researcher, writer, and activist regarding the Far Right as well as antisemitic currents on the Left. He has been part of several actions to help drive out Holocaust Deniers and other antisemites from left-wing circles. Sunshine is the author of the guide 40 Ways to Fight Fascists: Street-Legal Tactics for Community Activists (PopMob, 2020), and is currently working on a book about the origins of James Mason’s book Siege and its influence on today’s advocates of neo-Nazi terrorism.

“Blaming it on Antifa: Trump’s Crisis Scapegoats”

Here’s my analysis of the protests and who Trump’s scapegoating of antifa plays into it. The U.S. Right is deeply afraid of is the growing, multi-racial rebellion against the white supremacist system. As the revolt spreads into small towns and even conservative areas, politicians and police chiefs are worried not just of losing control of the streets – but of their political legitimacy altogether.

The year 2020 has been filled with wild plot twists, from the Coronavirus pandemic to a national uprising against white supremacy in the United States.

One of the strangest twists has been the anti-fascist movement being thrust back into the spotlight.

This is because President Donald Trump has scapegoated Antifa and anarchists for fomenting what is, in reality, a spontaneous-but-African American-led rebellion against white supremacist policing, the likes of which the country has not seen in decades.Screen Shot 2020-06-05 at 8.21.08 AM

The rebellion is so powerful it is approaching the riots that rocked American cities in the 1960s.

In the last week, Trump has taken to blaming Antifa” and anarchists” for the violence and looting. This is actually occurring, albeit on a much smaller scale than the right-wing media portrays.

While activists from both movements are involved in the protests, overall they are rather minor players. If these activists were removed from the streets, the protests would look essentially the same.”

Read the full article at The Battleground.eu

“The Anti-Black and Anti-Semitic History of ‘Outside Agitators'”

Today I did an interview with It’s Going Down about the Right’s history of scapegoating Jews and radical Left groups as the puppet-masters behind black liberation struggles.

With everyone from Trump, to media pundits, to fake “ANTIFA” accounts run by the far-Right, to state Governors repeating conspiracy theories and false information about “who is behind” the recent rebellion in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd, we thought it would be a good time to discuss the history associated with the trope of the “outside agitator.”Screen Shot 2020-06-02 at 11.23.27 PM

While this term in itself comes from police and KKK members who attacked participants in the civil rights movement, the racist ideology behind black freedom struggles being associated with “communism” and being led by “Jews,” goes back even farther. Wanting to know more, we reached out to Spencer Sunshine, a long-time researcher of far-Right movements.

IGD: Why does the far-Right spread ideas that Black people have no agency over their own struggles and somehow need be guided and directed by outside forces? What do they gain by advancing such a narrative?

Even when these ideas are laundered by more mainstream conservatives like FOX News or espoused by right-wingers who are Jewish and/or people of color, they emerge originally from anti-Semitic white supremacist narratives. This is important because these claims fundamentally reflect those assumptions.

Read the full interview at It’s Going Down