My annual wrap-up of the U.S. Far Right is out. It looks at the increasingly autonomous MAGA movement; the 1/6 committee and arrests; Trump & Musk’s shenanigans; Far Right massacres and other violence; antisemitic incidents; and new neo-Nazi groups.
“As in past years, the U.S. far right has continued to have a political impact far in excess of anything seen before Donald Trump’s presidential term. What was new in 2022 was that activists who emerged from his base have also achieved a level of autonomy from their leader which they had not seen before. However, this year’s most visible spotlight on the far right was the January 6 committee, which culminated in the recommendation that Trump be charged with federal crimes. Additionally, there have also been numerous arrests, trials and sentences related to the Capitol breach. While what’s now called the “MAGA Movement” has outlived its leader’s fall from power, it remains to be seen what effect his 2024 presidential campaign will have on it — especially after the disappointing midterms. The year has also been marked by the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade. Alongside the boost to Christian nationalism this provided, far right groups have targeted LGBTQ+ events this year, focusing on drag shows. And extreme violence also reared its head again as two significant far right massacres marked the year.”
For German readers, I have a new piece in Antifa Infoblatt #134 which has just been put online.
“2014, nachdem die Polizei einen schwarzen Teenager in Ferguson, Missouri ermordete, begann die erste Protestwelle der BLM Bewegung, die nach ein paar Jahren aber wieder abebbte. Die zweite Welle, die bis heute anhält, begann im Mai 2020, nachdem gefilmt wurde, wie der schwarze George Floyd von einem weißen Polizeibeamten zu Tode gewürgt wurde. Eine spontane, landesweite Protestwelle – die anfangs so heftig war, dass sie einer revolutionären Situation glich – brach aus und gewann eine breite Unterstützung in der Bevölkerung.
Drei Monate nach Floyds Tod entstanden Filmaufnahmen, die zeigten, wie dem schwarze Jacob Blake in der Kleinstadt Kenosha, Wisconsin von einem weißen Polizisten mehrfach in den Rücken geschossen wurde. Es folgten neuerliche BLM-Proteste. Von da an begannen bewaffnete rechte Gruppen zu den Demonstration zu kommen, um die Protestierenden einzuschüchtern (in einigen Situationen waren die BLM-Aktivisten ebenfalls bewaffnet). In Kenosha rief eine rechte Miliz dazu auf, sie bei ihrem Vorgehen gegen eine BLM Demo zu unterstützen. Zu jenen, die dem Aufruf folgten, gehörte der 17-jährige Kyle Rittenhouse.”
“On August 12, 2017, the largest fascist-led rally in the United States in many decades was held in Charlottesville, Virginia. What happened shocked the country out of its complacency about how right-wing politics were unfolding under then-President Donald Trump, and foretold the years of far right violence to come. Charlottesville’s effects still reverberate today, both on those who were present and in local and national politics. And there is a direct line from that rally to the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. … Tactically, there is obviously no shortage of examples of the kind of violence seen at Unite the Right in the country’s history. But militant movements don’t arise out of thin air, and they almost always build on previous actions as they motivate themselves and get everything into alignment. Charlottesville stood out because, for the first time since the turn of the century, this kind of violence was seen so brazenly at a large, far right public demonstration. What the SPLC’s Hannah Gais called “a disavowal of traditional politics and the democratic process, combined with decentralized violence” was the door that Charlottesville opened at the beginning of Trump’s administration. January 6 was what walked through at the end.”
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.
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?
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.
Amazon will bring almost anything to your door in a day. Despitenumerousexposés, 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.
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.
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.
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).
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