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

1. Chip in the 1960s
Sue Kaiser

2. My Friend Chip
Terre Roche

3. From Way Back When to Now
Grace Mastalli

4. Chip: The “Winni” Years
Mary Eich

5. Our Best Friend
Penny Rosenwasser

6. Awe-Inspiring Moments and Radical Alterations: A Conversation with Chip Berlet
April Rosenblum

Part II: Analysis

7. Ruminations on an Intellectual History of Chip Berlet and the “Right Wing Populism” Formulation
Spencer Sunshine

8. Transnational Right-Wing Populism: Chip Berlet’s Enduring Insights
Jason Wilson

9. Chip Berlet’s Brave Look at the Far Right’s History and Ourselves
Maresi Starzmann

10. Reading Chip Berlet in the Rose City
J. Sciortino

11. Chip Berlet and the Fidelity of the Clerks: A Historical Excursus
Roger Griffin

12. Understanding and Resisting Left-Right Convergence in the Internet Age
Ben Gidley

13. Social Movement Theory and Right-Wing Conspiracism: Hints from Chip Berlet’s Work
Steven Gardiner

14. What I Learned from Interacting with and Reading Chip Berlet: An Appreciation and Thank You
G. William Domhoff

15. Why I’m a Chipite: Lessons from Chip Berlet
Shane Burley

16. Agent and Archive: Chip Berlet and the Historicity of Right-Watchers
A.J. Bauer

17. Donald Trump and the Myth of the Deep State
Michael Barkun

Part III: Practice

18. Our Chip
Angelia R. Wilson

19. In Praise of Chip Berlet: Intrepid and Trustworthy Trail Guide
Kay Whitlock

20. Chip Berlet’s Magic and Militias
Kenneth S. Stern

21. Homage to Chip
Bill Weinberg

22. A Conversation on Chip’s Praxis
Mary N. Taylor and Sophie Bjork-James

23. Righteous Mensch
Holly Sklar

24. The Berlet School of Political Thought
Abby Scher

25. Chip: You Rock My World!
Loretta J. Ross

26. Fighting the Good Fight: No Chip on his Shoulder
Mark Potok

27. Genuine Chip
Mark Pitcavage

28. He Opened the Library to Me
Jennifer Mittelstadt

29. Chip Berlet, Co-author
Matthew N. Lyons

30. Chip’s Intellectual Influence in Exploring African Anti-gay Politics
Kapya Kaoma

31. The Still, Strategic, Organizer Mind of Chip Berlet
Kit Gage

32. Passing the Torch
Alex DiBranco

33. Studies on the Right with Chip Berlet
James P. Danky

34. Desperately Seeking Chip
Pam Chamberlain

Part IV: Legacy

35. Reflections on Reading Chip Berlet
Aaron Winter

36. Chip Berlet and Defending Dissent
Sue Udry

37. Always There in My Corner
Scot Nakagawa

38. A Bridge Called Chip Berlet
Cas Mudde

39. The Generosity of Chip Berlet
Donna Minkowitz

40. A Tribute to Chip
Carol Mason

41. For Chip
Joe Lowndes

42. A Hero
Talia Lavin

43. Chip Berlet was My Foundation
Daryle Lamont Jenkins

44. The Significance of Chip Berlet
Bill Fletcher, Jr.

45. A Bright Light of Scholarship and Reporting in a Darkening Time
Frederick Clarkson

46. Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
Brooke Binkowski

47. Chip Berlet Made Me a Better Researcher and Thinker
Heidi Beirich

“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

March 10, NYC: “Why the Far Right Kills” with Chip Berlet and Talia Lavin

Mar 10 copy.jpgWhy the Far Right Kills”

Tuesday, March 10, 7PM
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, 15 West 16th Street, NYC

Free, but please register online.

Co-sponsored by  LaGuardia Community College Social Science Department and Routledge

The October 2018 massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, committed by a Far Right activist, was the most lethal assault on Jews on U.S. soil in history. It was followed by attacks on synagogues in Poway, California and Halle, Germany. The Far Right has also massacred Latinos in El Paso, Texas, as well as Muslims and Arabs in Christchurch, New Zealand and Hanau, Germany. In fact, the postwar Far Right has killed thousands of people. Why is this political faction, compared to others, so violent—and what drives them to kill again and again?

Researcher Chip Berlet, who has investigated the Far Right for forty years, will explain how the movement’s internal dynamic drives its participants into homicidal outbursts. Berlet will discuss the Far Right’s themes of demonization, scapegoating, conspiracism and apocalypticism with journalist Talia Lavin, and they will offer their perspectives on how to deal with this toxic social current.


About the Speakers

Chip Berlet, an investigative journalist and independent scholar who has studied Far Right movements and conspiracy theories for over forty years, including three decades as senior analyst at the think tank Political Research Associates. Berlet is the co-author of Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort (Guilford, 2000), and his new book is Trumping Democracy From Reagan to the Alt-Right (Routledge, 2019). He is also the co-author of the “Neo-Nazism” entry in the Encyclopaedia Judaica, and has written for The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Progressive, and many other publications.

Talia Lavin is a freelance writer and researcher based in Brooklyn with bylines in GQ, The New Yorker, the Washington Post, and the New Republic. Her forthcoming book about the Far Right online, Culture Warlords: Dispatches from the Dark Web of White Supremacy, will come out on Hachette Books in October 2020.

“Far Right Movements Suffered Big Losses in 2019. But They Are Far From Defeated.”

As in past years, I did a year-end wrap-up of of the US Far Right. From massacres to lawsuits, this year – like past ones – had it all.

“The U.S. far right continued to be very active in 2019. The good news is that, surveying their actions for the year, those far rightists outside of the GOP have had less growth and street presence than in 2018. Doxxing, lawsuits, a loss in interest from conservatives and state repression have all taken their toll. The far right’s boom years of 2016 and 2017 are starting to fade away, but it remains an energized movement. The white nationalist wing was still far more active in 2019 than it was for almost two decades, since its last boom period in the 1990s until its recent revival. Meanwhile, the most militant part of it has crystallized into a neo-Nazi, pro-terrorism faction.”

Read the complete article at Truthout.

“Anti-Semitic and Anti-Muslim Murders Are Latest in String of Fascist Attacks”

“Last week’s attack on a synagogue and kebab shop was only a blip in the news in the United States. On the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, a fascist tried to storm a synagogue in Halle, Germany. Failing to get through the synagogue’s security door, he murdered a bystander on the street and then another in a nearby kebab shop.

For many people, this is yet another racist and anti-Semitic attack among innumerable others. But looking at the details, it is the latest in a sequence of six attacks in less than a year. And there are likely to be more to come.

Every year, the far right murders dozens of people in the United States. The Anti-Defamation League, which tracks these numbers closely, says 413 have been murdered by the U.S. right between 2007 and 2018, including 49 last year.

Right now, there are two overlapping linked sequences of far-right massacres. The first is a series of misogynistic killings intended to spur an “incel rebellion.” …

Read the entire article at Truthout

“Ted Cruz’s ‘Antifa Are Terrorists’ Resolution Seeks to Stifle the Left”

“The non-binding Senate resolution introduced this week in an effort to label “antifa” as “a domestic terrorist organization” is the product of years of well-publicized lies about antifa propagated by the right-wing press.

Senate Resolution 279 (S.Res. 279) which Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) introduced on July 18, and which was co-sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), is the most serious attempt so far by the right to capitalize on a panic it has manufactured about antifa. Short for “antifascist,” antifa is a highly decentralized movement made of differing groups and individuals who counter-organize against fascist and other far-right organizing. It has exploded in popularity since 2016 but has no leadership, no national decision-making structure and no organized funding base.

But for two years now, a number of the more conservative media outlets have been erroneously portraying antifa as a highly disciplined organization that functions as the underground, paramilitary wing of the Democratic Party. They claim it is funded and controlled by liberal financier George Soros, who is portrayed as the movement’s “puppet master” — and who, just coincidentally, happens to be Jewish.”

Read the entire op-ed at Truthout

New Patreon & e-newsletter now up!

I have a couple new projects that have launched.

The first is that I have set up a Patreon. If you enjoy my work, I strongly encourage you to make a monthly financial contribution to help make this work possible. Patrons will get exclusive monthly content, as well as freebies!

 

 

 

 

 

Second,  I also have an e-newsletter, the Sonnenschein Update. This will come over every month to notify you about important new publications, as well as urgent activist appeals for mutual aid.

“Will Decentralization of Neo-Nazism Spur More Right-Wing Terrorism?”

What will happen to the U.S. neo-Nazi movement if its largest party collapses?

“For the first time in decades, it is possible that there will be no U.S. neo-Nazi party large enough to hold public rallies. In a story worthy of a plot-twisting HBO special, Black civil rights activist James Stern convinced the leader of the largest U.S. neo-Nazi party, the National Socialist Movement (NSM), to officially make him their president in order to help protect the party from a lawsuit. Afterward, he said, ‘As a Black man, I took over a neo-Nazi group and outsmarted them,’ and that he intends to dismantle the group from within.

The NSM is important for opponents of the far right to watch because it is the largest open neo-Nazi group in the United States. As such, it is the furthest stop for a public, organized group on the right wing of the political spectrum. And after the 2018 collapse of the Traditionalist Worker Party, another large fascist party, the NSM has been the only neo-Nazi group able to hold public demonstrations of even a moderate size.”

Read the entire article at Truthout