White Supremacy’s Old Gods: The Far Right and Neopaganism

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This article appears in the Winter 2018 edition of The Public Eye magazine.

In 2014, a White supremacist leader, Frazier Glenn Cross, Jr. (also known as F. Glenn Miller), killed three people outside Jewish organizations in Overland Park, Kansas. Although all three were actually Christian, Cross’s intended target was clear, as was the religious justification he found for his supremacist beliefs. Cross, founder of the Carolina Knights of the KKK, which later became the White Patriot Party,1 was a convert from Christianity to a neonazi interpretation of the pre-Christian, Northern European and Germanic religion of Odinism. In his self-published 1999 autobiography, A White Man Speaks Out, he wrote:

I’d love to see North America’s 100 million Aryan Christians convert to the religion invented by their own race and practiced for a thousand generations before the Jews thought up Christianity. / Odinism! This was the religion for a strong heroic people, the Germanic people, from whose loins we all descended, be we German, English, Scott [sic], Irish, or Scandinavian, in whole or in part. / Odin! Odin! Odin! Was the battle cry of our ancestors; their light eyes ablaze with the glare of the predator, as they swept over and conquered the decadent multi-racial Roman Empire. / And Valhalla does not accept Negroes. There’s a sign over the pearly gates there which reads, “Whites only.”2

Cross’ hateful manifesto on the eve of the 21st Century represents more than just the ramblings of one violent terrorist. His argument that White people need to embrace their pre-Christian roots in service of the White race is one increasingly being adopted by White supremacists across Europe and North America. More than a decade ago, in 2003, comparative religion scholar Mattias Gardell wrote that racist forms of neopaganism were already outpacing traditional monotheistic versions of White supremacy.3 Today, they’re even more prevalent, as White supremacists exploit political instability driven by anti-immigrant and anti-refugee sentiment in Europe, and the racist backlash surging under Donald Trump in the United States.

Only about 0.3 percent of the U.S. population follow beliefs related to neopaganism, an umbrella term for modern interpretations of polytheist and pantheist religions that predate Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.4 Within that figure, an even smaller number—just 7,878 people according to one community census—practice Scandinavian and Germanic forms of neopaganism known as Heathenry.5 Perhaps the most recognized Heathen faith is Ásatrú, a polytheist religion venerating old Norse gods and goddesses. However, despite its small numbers—in 1996, religion scholar Jeffrey Kaplan estimated fewer than 1,000 U.S. adherents6—Ásatrú has come to figure prominently in modern U.S. White supremacist movements.

By 2003, racist forms of neopaganism were already outpacing traditional monotheistic versions of White supremacy.

While most U.S. Ásatrúar (followers of Ásatrú) are inclusive,7 there exists a divide within Heathen communities about who should be allowed to take up ancient Scandinavian and Germanic spiritual practices. Those who eschew racism and invite potential members regardless of ethnic background are termed “universalists.” Conversely, those groups calling themselves “folkish” stipulate that only members with Northern European or Germanic ancestry may join. Many of these “folkish” groups are overtly White supremacist, claiming that Ásatrú is the true religion of the superior “Aryan race.”

White supremacists practicing Ásatrú may also use the term Odinism, named after the god Odin, though not all self-identified Odinist groups are White supremacist, and there are ongoing debates within Ásatrú communities about the differences implied by the terms. Others use the name Wotanism. The late White supremacist and convicted murderer David Lane promoted the term Wotanism to serve as an explicitly racist form of Odinism. Lane, who also created the “14 Words” slogan widely cited by White supremacists—“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White children”8—favored Wotanism in part because, he explained, “W.O.T.A.N. makes a perfect acronym for Will Of The Aryan Nation.”9

By whatever name, the ties between some neopagans and organized racist movements are clear. “The most cursory glimpse at White-racist publications, Web pages, and White-power lyrics,” warned Gardell, “reveals muscular heathens, pagan gods and goddesses, runes and symbols, magic, and esoteric themes in abundance.” Racist versions of paganism had already become so popular among White supremacists that, by the time Gardell’s book Gods of the Blood: The Pagan Revival and White Separatism was published in 2003, they were displacing organizations like the Ku Klux Klan and national socialist parties, and were rendering “earlier racist creeds, such as Christian Identity, to the status of an ‘old man’s religion.’”10 Since that time, the explosion of the Alt Right has only amplified this threat.

Many of those drawn to Odinism seem to fit the popular image of the angry, disaffected White men who voted for Trump: lacking in status,11 searching for a sense of identity and community, and insistent that White people are under attack as a group. In the face of economic despair and entitled, hypermasculine White rage, embracing a religion that seems to be all about White male victory can be appealing.

In the face of economic despair and entitled, hypermasculine White rage, embracing a religion that seems to be all about White male victory can be appealing.

The numbers of incarcerated White supremacists finding themselves drawn to Ásatrú are also growing. Odinism was introduced to the American prison system in the late 1980s12 by adherents such as Danish immigrant Else Christensen, who traveled through the U.S. spreading the word about Odinism and setting up Odinist prison groups.13 In 2002, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported that Ásatrú was “one of the faiths that incarcerated White supremacists found most often.” For example, David Lane, who was sentenced to 150 years in prison for his role in the murder of a Jewish radio host, heavily promoted Ásatrú during his incarceration, before dying in prison in 2007.14

In addition to the “true believers” drawn to Odinism, the religion has also become a useful organizational tool in providing White supremacists behind bars a chance to gather under the guise of religious worship. This strategy is common for many ethnically-based prison gangs, who are legally permitted to congregate with inmates dispersed across the prison only when united in worship. The Latin Kings, for example, organize under the cover of Santería, while Italian gangs organize under the facade of Catholic worship services. Given that the only jewelry prisoners are allowed to wear are wedding bands and religious insignia, wearing a Thor’s Hammer necklace (as Heathens have been legally permitted to do since 2005) can serve as a signal to other White supremacists in a prison environment structured by de facto racial segregation and interracial violence.15

Shannon Weber, “White Supremacy’s Old Gods,” photo collage, January 2018.

The Power of Vinland

For many White supremacists, the ability to connect with a religious identity they see as indigenously White is alluring. Ásatrú, especially for men, is a celebration of virile Northern European hypermasculinity, a chance at re-enacting the glory of their presumed Viking ancestors. Followers in the U.S. take the idea of this legacy one step further through their notion of “Vinland,” the portion of North America (most likely eastern Canada) explored by Vikings prior to the conquest of Christopher Columbus.16 In Vinland they are able to envision a past in which they were both victors and victims, beating Columbus in the race for conquest yet not given their proper historical due.

Many “folkish” Ásatrúar, Odinists, and Wotanists defend their desire to restrict the religion to those with Northern European ancestry as akin to Native Americans practicing indigenous religious beliefs. The difference between the two groups, of course, is one of power. Native Americans strive to maintain their cultural and religious practices in the aftermath of centuries of colonization and genocide. White Odinists, by contrast, benefit from White supremacy and deny others membership out of concerns about White “purity” rather than cultural survival in the face of mass slaughter, forced sterilization,17 and the kidnapping, abuse, and cultural “reeducation” found at American Indian boarding schools.18

Given that White people were the perpetrators of this colonization and genocide—and do not have an original claim to the land—professing a connection to Vinland enables White supremacist Odinists to “asser[t] a historical claim over North America,” according to David Perry, associate professor of history at Dominican University in Illinois.19 In other words, by laying claim to Vinland, Odinists tap into the idea of indigenous belonging while conveniently glossing over their status as settlers on stolen land.

As religion scholars Jennifer Snook, Thad Horrell, and Kristen Horton argue, when it comes to defining indigeneity, “Heathens in the United States certainly do not count.” But claims of indigeneity serve a powerful rhetorical purpose:

[C]laiming indigeneity offers an opportunity to understand oneself not as a global villain, an invading destroyer of distinct and diverse cultures and a spreader of global mono-culture, but rather as a fellow victim of these historical atrocities. Most Heathens recognize that their ancestors were global conquerors. Most of these seem to celebrate the fact as an indication of their people’s potency and power. This allows the maintenance of their settler identity…20

To put it another way, White supremacist Odinists assert their claims as “rightful” inhabitants of North America by paradoxically emphasizing their Northern European ancestry. At the same time, their adherence to Whites-only Odinist beliefs and hypermasculinity aids them in strategically celebrating their presumed ancestors’ conquest of foreign lands. In so doing, they are able to maintain the contradictory idea that they are both indigenous Vinlanders and powerful White invaders.

Above all, writes Perry, “They use the myth of Vinland to position themselves as righteous defenders in the wars of race and religion they believe are coming.”

Connections to Antisemitism: The Right Finds Odinism

While White supremacist Odinists use their religion as a way to play at the bygone glory of hypermasculine Viking culture, they see Christianity, by contrast, as a “self-destructive theology created by Jews and forced on White people who were by nature supposedly very different,” in the words of Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) senior fellow Mark Potok.21

On its face, it might seem illogical for Odinists to embrace antisemitism. After all, as John Yeowell, a leading Odinist community figure and author on modern Odinism in the U.K. (also known by the pen name “Stubba”),22 writes:

[A]ntisemitism is a Christian aberration and in no sense a product of the heathen tradition …  In the pre-Christian period the Jewish diaspora had not yet spread to the still heathen lands of northern Europe and therefore the question of antisemitism does not arise in the historic tradition of Odinism.23

However, the contemporary White supremacist revival of Odinism is deeply rooted in antisemitism and Nazism.

The veneration of ancient Scandinavian and Germanic religions has a long history in modern Europe, particularly in Germany since the 19th Century. Amid a backlash against the Industrial Revolution and German modernity, the 19th and early 20th Centuries saw the rise of the völkisch movement in Germany: a renaissance of romanticized notions about the “German people,” their history and folklore, and a yearning to return to a mythical agrarian past.24

During Weimar-era Germany, writes Kaplan, some contingents of the German Youth Movement embraced Odinist beliefs that would later flourish in Nazi Germany, as well as “sympathizers abroad whose anti-Semitic beliefs would lead them to conclude that, as Christianity is built on a Jewish foundation, it too must be swept away in the construction of a millenarian ‘New Order.’”25

In the U.S., the American Nazi Party was founded with Odinist influences in 1959.

During World War II, the “neo-völkisch” movement constituted a revival of this völkisch sentiment, as well as the heavy investment of prominent Third Reich leaders in Odinism. Adolf Hitler’s Schutzstaffel, or SS, for example, relied on Odinist mythology in their initiation rituals and cosmology. After the war, “völkisch ideology in general [was] discredited” in Germany, writes German literary scholar Stefanie von Schnurbein, yet Odinist groups in West Germany were also able to rebuild thanks to the restoration of constitutional protections for the freedom of religion.26 In the U.S., the American Nazi Party was founded with Odinist influences in 1959,27 followed by the first U.S. Ásatrú and Odinist organizations in the 1970s. In short order, the new groups would become divided between their White supremacist and universalist contingents.

Stephen McNallen, who became interested in Heathenry as a college student in Texas in the late 1960s,28 formed the Viking Brotherhood circa 1972 with Robert Stine.29 This group in turn became the first American Ásatrú organization, the Asatru Free Assembly, about four years later.30 By 1978, McNallen sought to lessen Odinism’s association with Nazism, even though he expressed sympathy for the “‘legitimate frustrations of White men who are concerned for their kind.’”31 He ultimately shut down the Asatru Free Assembly in 1987 before founding the folkish Asatru Folk Assembly in 1994. (McNallen is most recently responsible for forming the Wotan Network, a White nationalist Odinist group dedicated to spreading White nationalist Heathen memes.)

Shortly after McNallen disbanded the Asatru Free Assembly, White supremacist Valgard Murray formed the Asatru Alliance (AA) to take its place. Murray was a former member of the American Nazi Party who, until the 1960s, signed his letters with the phrase “Heil Hitler!”32 He also had a history of violent rhetoric: Viking Brotherhood co-founder Robert Stine, a fellow member of the Asatru Free Assembly and former member of the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi Party, claimed that Murray once threatened to kill a gay man at an official Asatru Free Assembly gathering.33 While the current bylaws of the AA claim that the organization “do[es] not practice, preach, or promote hatred, bigotry, or racism,”34 Murray has served as its chief religious leader since 1997,35 as well as its treasurer36 and public contact.37

The “Thug Reich”

Murray’s threats of violence weren’t an isolated example. Odinist groups that use Vinland as a defining part of their organizational identity, such as Vinlanders Social Club—who go by the slogan “Thug Reich”38—and Wolves of Vinland, have frequently embraced violence. Vinlanders Social Club, according to the ADL, is “one of the larger racist skinhead groups in the United States and has a high association with violence, including multiple murders.”39 They were formed in 2003 in the U.S. Midwest by one-time members of the Outlaw Hammerskins, a breakaway faction from the Hammerskin Nation coalition of White supremacist skinhead groups.40 Decrying what they see as the downfall of Western civilization, the group has developed a reputation for using brute force to intimidate and control those they perceive as enemies, including other White supremacists.

The Wolves of Vinland, based outside Lynchburg, Virginia, haven’t been shy about either their ritual practices (posting a photo to Instagram in 2015 of a dead sheep they had sacrificed41) or their members’ violence (in 2012, member Maurice Michaely pled guilty to setting a Black church on fire42). But they’ve nonetheless gained entrée to the Nazis-in-suits political world of the Alt Right. Member Jack Donovan made an appearance at the White supremacist National Policy Institute’s biennial Halloween event in 2015, which was held at the National Press Club, two blocks from the Obama White House.43 Given how White supremacist violence has become more mainstreamed during the Trump era, especially after the lethal violence in Charlottesville, Wolves of Vinland and groups like them seem bound to grow. And with the token inclusion of gay male members of the Alt Right, such as Donovan and Milo Yiannopoulos,44 these movements also have the potential to attract members from a community typically thought to be excluded from right-wing movements. (Of course, there have long been gay men among the leadership of right-wing groups, although they’ve often been easily disposed of, such as Ernst Röhm, the head of the Nazi Brownshirts, who was ultimately assassinated during the Night of the Long Knives in 1934.45)

Other White supremacist Odinists have been linked to multiple high-profile acts of violence and murder in recent years.46 Anders Breivik, Norway’s worst mass killer who murdered 77 people (mostly youth) in 2011, more recently revealed that he has long considered himself an Odinist. Potential signs of Brevik’s Odinism may not have been as well understood in 2011, prior to the rise of the Alt Right. But during his trial in 2012, Breivik explained how he’d named various of his possessions after Odinist religious beliefs. In 2016, he removed all doubt, declaring during a court proceeding, “I’m an Odinist, I believe in the only god, Odin.” He added that he “had never truly believed in Christianity.”47

During his 2012 trial, Norwegian domestic terrorist Anders Breivik declared, “I’m an Odinist, I believe in the only god, Odin.”

Since the public rise of the Alt Right, there has been a string of White supremacist, pagan-inflected crimes in 2017.

In March 2017, Vinlanders Social Club cofounder Brien James led another White nationalist group he’d founded, The American Guard—formerly the Indiana chapter of Soldiers of Odin48—to show up at an Indianapolis rally for Donald Trump. They bore shields with White supremacist symbols and claimed they were there “to provide ‘security’ for the march against the threat of left-wing protesters.”49 James, who is also involved in the “Alt Light” organization the Proud Boys and their “tactical defense arm”50 the Fraternal Order of the Alt-Knights (FOAK), has a violent past going back to at least 2000, when he was allegedly involved in beating a man nearly to death for failing to sieg-heil during a party.51 (James has even found a way to monetize his hatred, as creator of American Viking Clothing, a White supremacist t-shirt company.52)

The next month, in April, street-fighting between White nationalists and anti-fascist groups in Berkeley, California, attracted neonazis who carried flags embossed with a black sun, a symbol of Odinism that was widely adopted by Nazi and neonazi groups.53 The symbol, used during the Third Reich and known in German esoteric circles since the turn of the 20th Century,54 would also surface in June during a White supremacist rally in Houston, Texas,55 and again in August by Vanguard America during the infamous and deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville.56

In May 2017, an intoxicated White supremacist named Jeremy Christian killed two men and seriously injured a third on a Portland, Oregon, light rail train, after the men had intervened to stop Christian from harassing two teenaged Muslim girls, variously yelling “Get the fuck out,” “I don’t care if you are ISIS,” and “Free speech or die!” Earlier that month, Christian had posted to Facebook, along with various neonazi rants, “Hail Vinland!!! Hail Victory!!!”57

Then in August came the White supremacist terror in Charlottesville, which in addition to featuring Odinist symbolism also drew the support of Odinist leaders like Stephen McNallen of Asatru Free Assembly.58 Odinist involvement in the terrorist clash, which involved assaults on Charlottesville residents and left 32-year-old counter-protester Heather Heyer dead,59 is a sobering reminder of the White supremacist Heathen glorification of and capacity for violence.

The Soldiers of Odin

While examples of White supremacist, neopagan violence are plentiful, central to any discussion of these connections is the Soldiers of Odin. Originally formed in late 2015 in Kemi, Finland—against the backdrop of increasing White supremacist and right-wing radicalization across Europe that targets immigrants, refugees, and Muslims as defiling the European “way of life”—just two years later the group has a presence in more than 20 countries worldwide,60 including the U.S.

From its inception, Soldiers of Odin was linked to violent White supremacism. Its founder, Mika Ranta, a White supremacist with connections to the neonazi Finnish Resistance Movement, was convicted of racially aggravated assault for attacking two immigrants in 2005,61 as well as assault and aggravated assault in 2016.62

The stated purpose of the Soldiers of Odin is to “protect” citizens from refugees through deploying vigilante street patrols. By February 2016, they had reached the U.S. thanks in large part to social media, with at least 42 state chapters, some of which have only a few adherents, and others with at least 75 members.63

Some members of Soldiers of Odin are notable for their associations with other racist groups, such as Jason Tankersley, founder of the Maryland Skinheads, and Bradley Jenkins, an Alabama neonazi KKK leader. Foreshadowing the violence that would unfold in Charlottesville, 27-year-old Jani (no last name given), one of the group’s leaders in Kemi, told the U.K.’s Daily Mail, “‘The Government screwed things up so bad, and we are the consequence. Politicians are allowing migrants to rape our women, and they are doing nothing about it. There will be a war on the streets, and we are ready to fight.’”64

In some regards, that war on the streets may have been underway already. In 2016, Finnish police opened an investigation into three men who had worn Soldiers of Odin jackets while assaulting a man in the city of Imatra.65 Immigrants in Finland report fearing for their safety as a result of the menacing patrols; Kurdish migrant Hasim Keles explains, “We [asylum seekers] don’t go into town any more, particularly in the evenings, because we’re scared of getting beaten up by the Soldiers of Odin.”66

Juha-Matti Kinnunen, a Soldiers of Odin chapter leader in Joensuu, Finland, felt comfortable telling a British journalist, “If things carry on like this, ethnic cleansing will be necessary”67 —an ominous statement that can hardly be seen as a hollow threat on a continent haunted by genocide, whether during the Holocaust, the Bosnian war, or the Armenian Genocide.

Lari Kuosmanen, another Joensuu chapter leader, claims, “The cops say they hate us, but on the street they often give us the thumbs-up…Some of them would probably join us if they could.”68 In a similar claim, Soldiers of Odin USA also boast of being the “eyes and ears” of the police, characterizing their patrols as “observe-and-report” operations.69 This is special cause for concern given FBI reports from 2006, 2009, and 2015 on the infiltration of White supremacists into law enforcement roles.70

Gendered Violence in Right-Wing Neopaganism

Soldiers of Odin’s leaders say their founding motivation was to protect White women’s “honor” in the face of an epidemic of sexual violence allegedly being committed by Muslim refugees in Europe. Between December 2015 and January 2016, women in Helsinki, Finland, and in several German cities reported multiple incidents of sexual harassment and assault, by men who appeared to be Middle Eastern or North African, during holiday festivities. German police connected many of these reports instead to gang activity by men gathering near train stations for the purposes of mugging; and, as journalist Alex Shams points out, “Germans have only to look to Oktoberfest…or other mass drunken gatherings to remember that, unfortunately, misogynist men from many different cultural backgrounds engage in sexual harassment.”71 Still, the damage had been done, as anti-refugee extremists used the reports to justify assaulting asylum seekers and burning down refugee centers.72

“Where are the Freikorps when we need them?” Stephen McNallen wrote in response on Facebook, referencing the right-wing German-aligned mercenaries responsible for political assassinations after World War I. Many Freikorps members went on to become loyal servants of the Third Reich in the Sturmabteilung, the Nazi Party’s original paramilitary wing, colloquially known as the Brownshirts.73

In April 2016, a Soldiers of Odin USA Facebook group with more than 4,000 members declared that “it stands in opposition to the hordes of ‘refugees’ that have invaded Europe and will soon be coming to America, brining [sic] massive waves of rape and crime with them.”74

Contradicting previous assertions that they would serve only as the “eyes and ears” of the police, one graphic from the Facebook group declared:

We are not a nice, polite group that will do nothing but report outrages to the police. The police are overworked as it is, and hamstrung by the dictates of law. WE ARE NOT. We will BEAT THE LIVING SHIT out of any we catch raping American women and terrorizing American citizens.75

However—and unsurprisingly—the claimed concerns about protecting women from violence at the hands of immigrants and refugees also exist alongside a clear pattern of gendered violence at the hands of Odinists themselves. There was Vinlanders Social Club member Michael Parrish, who in 2009 murdered his girlfriend and their two-year-old son,76 for which he entered a guilty plea in 2010.77 Also in 2010, Vinlanders members Travis Ricci and Aaron Schmidt were indicted in Arizona78 after murdering a White woman walking at night with her Black boyfriend the previous fall.79 Separately, in 2011, Ricci was sentenced to 22 years in prison for slamming his girlfriend’s head into a wall during a party and stabbing two men who tried to intervene.80

Underlying these attacks are threads of misogyny throughout a male-dominated movement—one study found that Odinists in the U.S. are 65 percent male81—where women simultaneously serve as the rationale for outward-directed bigotry and violence and internal targets of domestic violence.

Women simultaneously serve as the rationale for outward-directed bigotry and violence and internal targets of domestic violence.

The misogyny within the movement makes sense for a culture that goes hand in hand with the hypermasculinity and rejection of femininity that’s common in the groups’ literature82 (and its social media, as Wolves of Vinland and other Odinists often add “#brosatru” to their posts, a play on the words “bros” and “Ásatrú”). It’s also in their disparagement of Christianity as a feminine, weak religion. Followers see the Norse gods, in contrast, as “the big tough white guys who, when they see a woman they want, grab her by the hair and pull her in the cave,” says Potok. “It’s seen as this ultra-male, super muscular religion, which is antithetical to Christianity and Judaism … It’s a comic book religion in a lot of ways.”83

Universalists Fight Back

The good news is that, despite this growing movement of violence, a large contingent of anti-racist Heathens are fighting to take back control of their religion. Given that universalist Heathens are already positioned as a mysterious minority within the West’s Christian-dominated religious landscape, the association of Ásatrú with White supremacy presents an embarrassing image problem. On a deeper level, universalists have collectively become fed up with their religious beliefs being used to justify bigotry and violence. These Heathens, despite being comprised primarily of White members, see the old Norse gods as deities who might call out to anyone, and they identify their community not through shared Whiteness but shared commitment to Heathen cosmology. Increasingly, they see it as their duty to not only distance themselves from White supremacist movements but to vocally denounce and organize against White supremacist Odinists.

The major universalist Ásatrú organization is The Troth, formerly the Ring of Troth. The Troth emerged in 1987, as religion scholar Jeffrey Kaplan writes, “from the wreckage of the Asatru Free Assembly,”84 and it represented remarkable diversity, with Jewish, Black, and LGBTQ members.85 As the group noted on its website, “membership in the Troth and participation in our activities is open to worthy folks regardless of race, ethnic origin, gender or sexual orientation, and we do not permit discrimination on these grounds.”86

An important turning point came in 2012, when a group called Heathens United Against Racism (HUAR) emerged to unite Heathens opposed to the “co-optation of our beliefs, traditions, and lore by racist groups.”87 Ryan Smith, one of HUAR’s co-founders, told PRA88 that the group first started as a discussion and educational space for Heathens to collectively unpack the troublesome problems of bigotry that have so long plagued their communities. “For a long time the racist, fascist types have effectively hogged the microphone and set the tone for how Heathenry is perceived, shouted down any opposition, and effectively marginalized all protest,” said Smith. “This was also made possible by a lot of self-identified moderates and liberals who wanted to be fair-minded, not cause strife in the community, or were defending personal relationships.”

Over time, HUAR’s mission became one of taking bold stances against White supremacy and fascism. Although in previous years, the White nationalist wing of Heathenry engaged in what Smith called “very careful plausible deniability,” he continued,

As we stepped up our efforts and the Alt Right became more visible, the [Asatru Folk Assembly] became more blatant in their rhetoric and positions and more actively linked itself to the rising Alt Right. They effectively self-radicalized and in the process also self-isolated, making it easier to rally opposition and support for genuinely inclusive community.

HUAR members’ increased education about these issues, and the AFA’s increasingly visible alignment with the Alt Right, caused HUAR to “shif[t] in the direction of exposure, denunciation, and in some cases direct action in solidarity with movements like Black Lives Matter” and antifa, Smith says. HUAR has also sought to hamper Soldiers of Odin’s organizing by publicizing any information they obtain about Soldiers of Odin’s members and supporters, internal organizational structure, and key leaders. Their efforts have sometimes resulted in venues pulling their support from Odinist events, such as persuading The Cotillion Room and Garden, an events center and wedding hall in Independence, Missouri, to cancel a book-signing event with author and Asatru Folk Assembly member Bryan Wilton.89

Smith says HUAR has developed “a substantial, international support base,” including  chapters in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, and online connections with the Scandinavian Heathen group Svinfylking.90 This international networking has enabled them to coordinate multiple intercontinental actions. In May 2016, according to Smith, HUAR organized an event called Light the Beacons, in which Heathens lit candles and bonfires at over 200 locations across four continents to demonstrate solidarity with inclusive Heathenry. The same year, HUAR took part in signing Declaration 127, an open letter approved by 180 Heathen organizations in 20 countries that publicly disavowed and broke ties with the Asatru Folk Assembly based on the AFA’s “long and well-documented history of discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, sexuality, and gender identity.”91

As White supremacist Ásatrúar, Odinists, and Wotanists continue to grow in number and influence across North America and Europe, it will be essential to better understand, document, and track their growth. It is critical to have a full view of the connections between racism, antisemitism, and misogyny that animate White supremacist appeals to pre-Christian European religion as activists and researchers develop best practices for countering their recruitment strategies. Going forward, anti-racist advocates will need to continue challenging and dismantling pseudoscientific theories of Aryan racial purity and superiority, ahistorical claims about the nature of pan-European White identity, and teachings that pit marginalized groups against one another. Above all, advocates will need to continue their sustained and vocal pushback on the increasing prominence and validity given to these types of groups by the Trump administration and those adjacent to it. Through these means, as well as through partnering with anti-racist Heathen groups like HUAR, White supremacist Odinism can be countered.

End notes

1 “White Patriot Party (WPP) Group Guide,” Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT) Terrorism Knowledge Base, accessed November 2, 2017,

2 Daniel Burke, “The Accused Kansas Killer’s Neo-Pagan Religion,.” CNN Belief Blog,. 14 April 14, 2014. Accessed 29 August 2017, http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2014/04/14/frazier-glenn-cross-racist-religion/.

3 Mattias Gardell, Gods of the Blood: The Pagan Revival and White Separatism, (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2003).

4 2014 Religious Landscape Study, Pew Research Center, accessed August 28, 2017, http://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/.

5 Karl E.H. Seigfried, “Worldwide Heathen Census 2013: Results and Analysis,” The Norse Mythology Blog, January 6, 2014, http://www.norsemyth.org/2014/01/worldwide-heathen-census-2013-results.html.

6 Jeffrey Kaplan, “The Reconstruction of the Asatru and Odinist Traditions” in Magical Religion and Modern Witchcraft, ed. James R. Lewis (Albany: State University of New York Press), 198.

7 Jeffrey Kaplan, “The Reconstruction of the Asatru and Odinist Traditions.”

8 George Michael, “David Lane and the Fourteen Words,” Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions 2009, 10(1): 43-61.

9 David Lane, “Wotanism (Odinism),” Der Brüder Schweigen Archives & David Eden Lane’s Pyramid Prophecy, accessed September 3, 2017, http://www.davidlane1488.com/wotan.html.

10 Mattias Gardell, Gods of the Blood: The Pagan Revival and White Separatism (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2003), 1.

11 See Will Carless, “An Ancient Nordic Religion Is Inspiring White Supremacist Terror,” Reveal News, May 25, 2017, https://www.revealnews.org/article/an-ancient-nordic-religion-is-inspiring-White-supremacist-jihad/.

12 Frank Green Richmond, “Two Accused of Race-War Plot Tied to Asatru Religion in Virginia Prisons,” The Roanoke Times, November 22, 2015,http://www.roanoke.com/news/virginia/accused-of-race-war-plot-tied-to-asatru-religion-in/article_f83401e4-faf5-5196-baad-2a428a54f849.html.

13 Will Carless, “An Ancient Nordic Religion Is Inspiring White Supremacist Terror.”

14 Betsy Woodruff, “Inside Virginia’s Church-Burning Werewolf White Supremacist Cult,” The Daily Beast, November 11, 2015, http://www.thedailybeast.com/inside-virginias-church-burning-werewolf-white-supremacist-cult.

15 Rick Paulas, “How a Thor-Worshipping Religion Turned Racist,” VICE News, May 1, 2015, https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/qbxpp5/how-a-thor-worshipping-religion-turned-racist-456.

16 Birgitta Wallace, “Vinland,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, June 3, 2015, https://www.britannica.com/place/Vinland.

17 Jane Lawrence, “The Indian Health Service and the Sterilization of Native American Women,” American Indian Quarterly vol. 24(3), 2000: 400-419.

18 Charla Bear, “American Indian Boarding Schools Haunt Many,” NPR, May 12, 2008, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16516865.

19 David Perry, “White Supremacists Love Vikings. But They’ve Got History All Wrong,” The Washington Post, May 31, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/05/31/white-supremacists-love-vikings-but-theyve-got-history-all-wrong/?utm_term=.986f1bbb7b34.

20 Jennifer Snook, Thad Horrell, and Kristen Horton, “Heathens in the United States: The Return to ‘Tribes’ in the Construction of a Peoplehood,” in Cosmopolitanism, Nationalism, and Modern Paganism, ed. Kathryn Rountree (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), 58.

21 Jack Jenkins, “The New Religion of Choice for White Supremacists.” ThinkProgress, November 13, 2015, https://thinkprogress.org/the-new-religion-of-choice-for-white-supremacists-8af2a69a3440/.

22 “Stubba – John Yeowell (1918-2010),” The Odinic Rite of Australia, ccessed December 7, 2017, https://odinicriteofaustralia.wordpress.com/stubba-john-yeowell-1918-2010/.

23 Stubba, This is Odinism and Other Essays (Melbourne: Renewal Publications, 2016), 90.

24 George Lachmann Mosse, The Crisis of German Ideology: Intellectual Origins of the Third Reich (New York: Schocken Books, 1981).

25 Jeffrey Kaplan, “Right-Wing Violence in North America,” in Terror from the Extreme Right, ed. Tore Bjørgo (London: Frank Cass & Co., 1995), 60.

26 Stefanie von Schnurbein, Norse Revival: Transformations of Germanic Paganism (Boston and Leiden: Brill, 2016), 48.

27 Daniel Burke, “The Accused Kansas Killer’s Neo-Pagan Religion,” CNN Belief Blog, April 14, 2014, http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2014/04/14/frazier-glenn-cross-racist-religion/.

28 Stephen McNallen, “Three Decades of the Ásatrú Revival in America,” in Joshua Buckley and Michael Moynihan (eds), Tyr: Myth, Culture, Tradition, Volume II (Atlanta: Ultra), 203-219.

29 Michael F. Strmiska and Baldur A. Sigurvinsson, “Asatru: Nordic Paganism in Iceland and America,” in Michael F. Strmiska (ed.), Modern Paganism in World Cultures: Comparative Perspectives (Santa Barbara and Oxford: ABC-CLIO, 2005), 127-180. 127.

30 Gardell, 260. Note that some sources, such as Strmiska and Sigurvinsson, place the founding of the Asatru Free Assembly as having occurred circa 1972.

31 “New Brand of Racist Odinist Religion on the March,” Southern Poverty Law Center, March 15, 1998.

32 Ibid.

33 Jeffrey Kaplan, “The Reconstruction of the Ásatrú and Odinist Traditions,” in Magical Religion and Modern Witchcraft, ed. James R. Lewis (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996), 203-204.

34 “Bylaws,” The Asatru Alliance, accessed September 3, 2017, http://www.asatru.org/aabylaws.php.

35 See “Valgard Murray Biography: ABOUT VALGARD MURRAY,” World Tree Publications, accessed November 1, 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20130501220434/http://www.worldtreepublications.org/page009.aspx.

36 See “Asatru Alliance Althing 36,” The Asatru Alliance, accessed November 1, 2017, https://www.asatru.org/althing36.php.

37 See “Contacts of the Asatru Alliance,” The Asatru Alliance, accessed November 1, 2017, https://www.asatru.org/contact.php.

38 “Do You Want Bigots, Gavin? Because This Is How You Get Bigots,” Southern Poverty Law Center, August 10, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/08/10/do-you-want-bigots-gavin-because-how-you-get-bigots.

39 “Vinlanders Social Club,” Anti-Defamation League, accessed October 3. 2017, https://www.adl.org/education/references/hate-symbols/vinlanders-social-club.

40 Stephen E. Atkins, Encyclopedia of Right-Wing Extremism in Modern American History (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2011), 117-118.

41 Woodruff, 2015.

42 Ibid.

43 Will Rahn, “Inside the White Supremacists’ Halloween Bash,” The Daily Beast, November 2, 2015, https://www.thedailybeast.com/inside-the-white-supremacists-halloween-bash.

44 Donna Minkowitz, “How the Alt-Right Is Using Sex and Camp to Attract Gay Men to Fascism,” Slate, June 5, 2017, http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2017/06/05/how_alt_right_leaders_jack_donovan_and_james_o_meara_attract_gay_men_to.html.

45 Matthew Wils, “Ernst Röhm, the Highest-Ranking Gay Nazi,” JStor Daily, March 27, 2017, https://daily.jstor.org/ernst-rohm-the-highest-ranking-gay-nazi/.

46 Jenkins, 2015.

47 Carless, 2017.

48 Jordan Fischer, “Who are the American Guard: Patriotic Nationalists, or Skinheads in Disguise?” The Indy Channel, May 25, 2017, https://www.theindychannel.com/longform/who-are-the-american-guard-patriotic-nationalists-or-skinheads-in-disguise.

49 “Behind the American Guard: Hardcore White Supremacists,” Anti-Defamation League, March 30, 2017, https://www.adl.org/blog/behind-the-american-guard-hardcore-white-supremacists.

50 Bill Morlin, “New Alt-Right ‘Fight Club’ Ready for Street Violence,” Southern Poverty Law Center, April 25, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/04/25/new-alt-right-fight-club-ready-street-violence.

51 “Do You Want Bigots, Gavin? Because This Is How You Get Bigots,” Southern Poverty Law Center, August 10, 2017,https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/08/10/do-you-want-bigots-gavin-because-how-you-get-bigots.

52 See https://shop.americanvikings.com.

53 Natasha Lennard, “The Violent Clashes In Berkeley Weren’t ‘Pro-Trump’ Versus ‘Anti-Trump.’” Esquire, April 16, 2017, http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/news/a54564/the-violent-clashes-in-berkeley-werent-pro-trump-versus-anti-trump/.

54 Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity, New York: New York University Press, 2002, 136.

55 Shane Burley, “Disunite the Right: The Growing Divides in the Pepe Coalition,” Political Research Associates, September 19, 2017, http://www.politicalresearch.org/2017/09/19/disunite-the-right-the-growing-divides-in-the-pepe-coalition/.

56 “Flags and Other Symbols Used By Far-Right Groups in Charlottesville,” Southern Poverty Law Center, August 12, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/08/12/flags-and-other-symbols-used-far-right-groups-charlottesville.

57 Jason Wilson, “Suspect In Portland Double Murder Posted White Supremacist Material Online,” The Guardian, May 28, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/27/portland-double-murder-White-supremacist-muslim-hate-speech.

58 McNallen was scheduled to speak at the rally, and he also publicly endorsed the event on Twitter through his Wotan Network account: https://twitter.com/WotanNetwork1/status/896382167336538113.

59 Christina Caron, “Heather Heyer, Charlottesville Victim, Is Recalled as ‘a Strong Woman,’” The New York Times, August 13, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/13/us/heather-heyer-charlottesville-victim.html.

60 Jonathan Montpetit, “Inside Quebec’s Far Right: Soldiers of Odin Leadership Shake-Up Signals Return to Extremist Roots,” CBC News, December 14, 2016, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-far-right-soldiers-of-odin-1.3896175.

61 Tom Porter, “Soldiers of Odin: Name of Far-Right Group Patented for Use By ‘Glittery Unicorn’ Clothing Range,” International Business Times, May 18, 2016, http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/soldiers-odin-name-far-right-group-patented-use-by-glittery-unicorn-clothing-range-1560781.

62 Tom Porter, “Mika Ranta: Founder of Far-Right Soldiers of Odin Vigilante Group Convicted of Aggravated Assault,” International Business Times, May 19, 2016, http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/mika-ranta-founder-far-right-soldiers-odin-vigilante-group-convicted-aggravated-assault-1560987.

63 “Soldiers of Odin USA: The Extreme European Anti-Refugee Group Comes to America,” Anti-Defamation League, 2016, https://www.adl.org/sites/default/files/documents/assets/pdf/combating-hate/Soldiers-of-Odin-USA-Report-web.pdf.

64 Jake Wallis Simons, “Exclusive: Nazi Daggers, SS Hats and a Hangman’s Noose: On Night Patrol with the ‘Soldiers of Odin’, Neo-Nazi Led Vigilantes Vowing to ‘Keep Europe’s Women Safe from Migrant Sex Attacks,” Daily Mail, February 4, 2016 (updated 7 February 2017), http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3426685/Nazi-daggers-SS-hats-hangman-s-noose-night-patrol-Soldiers-Odin-neo-Nazi-led-vigilantes-vowing-Europe-s-women-safe-migrant-sex-attacks.html.

65 “Soldiers of Odin USA,” Anti-Defamation League, 2016.

66 Simons, 2016.

67 Ibid.

68 Ibid.

69 “Soldiers of Odin USA,” Anti-Defamation League, 2016.

70 Alice Speri, “The FBI Has Quietly Investigated White Supremacist Infiltration of Law Enforcement,” The Intercept, January 31,2017, https://theintercept.com/2017/01/31/the-fbi-has-quietly-investigated-White-supremacist-infiltration-of-law-enforcement/.

71 Alex Shams, “Neither Taharrush Gamea Nor Sexism Are Arab ‘Cultural Practices,’” HuffPost, accessed December 19, 2017, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/alex-shams/sexism-isnt-an-arab-cultural-practice_b_9022056.html.

72 “Soldiers of Odin USA: The Extreme European Anti-Refugee Group Comes to America,” Anti-Defamation League, 2016, https://www.adl.org/sites/default/files/documents/assets/pdf/combating-hate/Soldiers-of-Odin-USA-Report-web.pdf.

73 “Enough is Enough,” Patheos, January 16, 2016, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/throughthegrapevine/2016/01/enough-is-enough/.

74 “Soldiers of Odin USA,” 2016.

75 Ibid.

76 Dan Berrett, “Differing Pictures Emerge of Pennsylvania Slaying Victim,” Times Herald-Record, July 17, 2009, http://www.recordonline.com/article/20090717/News/307179900.

77 Given the fact that Parrish also worked as a Pennsylvania corrections officer, it is worth considering to what extent those employed by the prison industry are also “buying into” the promises proffered by incarcerated Odinists.

78 “2 Men Charged in Phoenix Hate-Crime Shooting,” AZFAmily.com, September 30, 2010, http://www.azfamily.com/story/28328488/2-men-charged-in-phoenix-hate-crime-shooting.

79 Stephen Lemons, “Can France Save a Phoenix Neo-Nazi and Accused Murderer from the Needle? Let’s Hope Not,” Phoenix New Times, January 31, 2017, http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/can-france-save-a-phoenix-neo-nazi-and-accused-murderer-from-the-needle-let-s-hope-not-9037127.

80 Stephen Lemons, “Neo-Nazi Travis Ricci Just Pulled Two Decades in the Joint, As The Specter of His Death Waits,” Phoenix New Times, May 26, 2011, http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/neo-nazi-travis-ricci-just-pulled-two-decades-in-the-joint-as-the-specter-of-his-death-waits-6448951.

81 Helen A. Berger, Evan A. Leach, and Leigh S. Shaffer, Voices from the Pagan Census: A National Survey of Witches and Neo-pagans in the United States (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2003), 16.

82 “Soldiers of Odin USA: The Extreme European Anti-Refugee Group Comes to America,” Anti-Defamation League, 2016, https://www.adl.org/sites/default/files/documents/assets/pdf/combating-hate/Soldiers-of-Odin-USA-Report-web.pdf.

83 Jenkins, 2015.

84 Jeffrey Kaplan, Radical Religion in America: Millenarian Movements from the Far Right to the Children of Noah (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1997), 21.

85 Ibid.

86 “Frequently-Asked Questions About The Troth,” The Troth, February 3, 2017, https://www.thetroth.org/faq.html.

87 See https://www.facebook.com/pg/HeathensUnited/about/?ref=page_internal.

88 Ryan Smith (Co-Founder, Heathens United Against Racism), interviewed by Shannon Weber via Facebook Messenger, November 2, 2017.

89 Max Londberg, “White Supremacists Coming to Independence? Community Outcry Halts Fringe Group’s Event,” The Kansas City Star, August 16, 2017, http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article167494937.html.

90 See https://www.facebook.com/HeathensUnited/.

91 “Declaration 127,” Huginn’s Heathen Hof, accessed October 3, 2017, http://www.declaration127.com/.


One Year In: A Q&A with Tarso Luis Ramos

Click here for a PDF.

This article appears in the Winter 2018 edition of The Public Eye magazine.

On the anniversary of Donald Trump’s inauguration, PRA Executive Director Tarso Luís Ramos talks about some of what’s changed in the past year, and what progressives should be alert to going forward.

PE: What should we make of this anniversary?

As relentless a year as it’s been, the Trump camp accomplished less of its agenda than they might have. They’ve not been able to fully convert on GOP control of both chambers of Congress and it took them a full year to win a major—if devastating—legislative victory in the form of the tax heist. The widespread and fierce resistance to the Trump agenda from the Women’s March onward compelled congressional Democrats to take a harder line of resistance than they could have and deep divisions on the Right scuttled repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act and other administration initiatives. Trump has had to rely disproportionately on executive power and by all accounts, his is not a tight ship. This is all to say that things could be—and may yet become—much worse.

Of course, tremendous damage can and has been done through executive action and the full implications of changes at the various federal departments have not been fully felt. Yet looking back on what PRA anticipated from a Trump presidency, a lot of things that have come to pass were predictable in their broad outlines, if not always in the details.

PRA warned that White nationalists would make a show of force; that the Christian Right would be rewarded with things like judicial appointments and pushback against LGBTQ communities. It was clear that Trump was going to engage in eliminationist policies, directed at Muslims, refugees, and immigrants, and expanded targeting of Black communities.

Looking back on what PRA anticipated from a Trump presidency, a lot of things that have come to pass were predictable in their broad outlines, if not always in the details.

We also warned that Trump would not make good on his promises of economic populism and argued that it would be the job of progressives to reveal Trump’s betrayals as quickly as possible. That nobody, including Trump voters, would deserve what was coming. I should admit that even we, who may have a reputation for gloomy forecasts, thought Trump might choose to lead with the “carrot” of infrastructure (if in a privatizing, crony capitalist way) before the “sticks” of Muslim and trans military service bans and so on.

Given the hollowness of his economic populism, it seemed inevitable that the regime would have to deliver tangible non-economic benefits to Trump’s electoral base. And I think we’ve seen that: No student loan relief, but the revocation of guidelines for redress around sexual assault on campus, as well as challenges to Higher Ed access for Black and Brown students. No policies to revive manufacturing, but a crackdown on “Black identity extremism.” No reining in of Wall Street excesses—people forget that was part of his stump speech, before the Goldman Sachs appointees—but Muslim bans and a steady drip of antisemitism.

Women’s March on Washington,
January 21st, 2017. Photo: Molly Adams via Flickr.

Yet after the election came a chorus of liberal critics calling on progressives to reject identity politics—by which they meant appeals to gender or racial justice—in favor of the supposed universalism of economic populism. We at PRA heard this as a call to a different sort of identity politics: White identity politics. The Trump campaign combined White racial grievance with toxic masculinity and economic populism. It linked, especially, race and the economy, blaming people of color and immigrants for the declining economic fortunes of White people. Trump campaigned on the lie that bigotry can bring prosperity. The challenge for progressives is not to shut up about race, gender, and sexuality but to do a better job of addressing them in relation to widespread economic inequality. Of course, the booming stock market may foster complacency in some quarters about the upward transfer of wealth.


Is any of this similar to dynamics under the last Bush administration?

There are parallels, such as tax cuts for the rich, the crackdown on immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries, the “clash of civilizations” framework, and endorsement of torture in pursuit of national security goals.  We’ll see whether Trump also leads the country into major military engagements.

But quite a bit is different from the George W. Bush period, including the more open-throated expression of an exclusionary, White definition of American identity. Many have noted that we’ve left behind the dog whistles for straightforward racial and ethnic appeals. Also, where Bush was an heir to the Republican establishment, Trump ran a hostile takeover of the GOP from the outside. And while they each won support from the Christian Right, with Pence the dominionists appear to have even more influence in Trump’s government. Of course, there’s also Trump himself—a demagogue and racist campaigner from a very different mold.

Another difference is the vast scale of political real estate captured by the GOP in 2016—the executive branch, both chambers of Congress, and the lion’s share of the states. With that has come an opportunity to do deep, generational damage to the economy as well as to any broadly felt experience of American democracy—something long denied to African Americans, Indigenous communities, and others and that may now be denied to an expanding number. Trump’s attacks on the institutional pillars of democracy—the judiciary, the vote, independent media—signal a potential descent into oligarchy or authoritarianism.

So there are continuities from the Bush era, as well as real ruptures that could make what’s coming unrecognizable to large swaths of the population.

Given the increase in violence grounded in bigotry, how should we think about “hate crimes” and “hate groups”?

There’s been a real surge in reported bias crimes—from the desecration of Jewish cemeteries to physical assaults against African Americans, Latinx immigrants, and people perceived to be Muslim. Both the Trump camp and organized bigoted groups are successfully stoking hatreds based on race, religion, gender, sexuality, and so on. Their relentless demonization of targeted communities inevitably encourages individuals to act on their bigotries. Yet defining the problem in terms of “hate” and “hate groups” can obscure both the root issues and the appropriate responses.

Organized bigots, like the White nationalist groups who mobilized to murderous effect in Charlottesville last August, have social and political goals beyond any simple notion of hatred. Richard Spencer and his ilk seek a racially cleansed White authoritarian state. Naturally, they are thrilled to see their agenda of ethnic cleansing reflected in Trump’s push for a southern border wall, Muslim ban and registry, crackdown on Black dissent, and aggressive immigrant detention and deportation program. For these White nationalists, mobilizing racial resentment—and, yes, fostering hatred of other groups—is critical to movement building. But it’s not an end unto itself any more than “hate” sums up the agenda of the German Nazi Party.

If we misunderstand the problem as being limited to a small—if growing—number of violent militants, we’ll tend to use the wrong yardstick to measure White nationalists’ influence. Of concern is not only the number of militants they can mobilize but how broadly influential their ideas have become. The president of the United States champions their eliminationist policies and provided political cover for overt White nationalists even after Charlottesville. Yet the “hate frame,” as PRA contributor Kay Whitlock calls it, relies mostly on legal and law enforcement responses to so-called extremists and avoids dealing with structural racism and other systems of domination. As the Black Lives Matter and trans justice movements regularly remind us, police agencies are among the principal sources of bigoted violence. We should be wary of positioning law enforcement as the solution, particularly in a moment of “blue lives matter” backlash and a national security doctrine of counter-terrorism.

Is Trump’s engagement with White nationalists unprecedented in the presidency?

2017 migrant justice rally in Boston, MA. Photo: Tim Plenk.

Yes and no. People don’t know or forget that the Reagan administration cultivated European fascist émigrés who came to the U.S. after World War II—a story PRA published decades ago. Pat Buchanan, a White supremacist, served in more than one administration. So there’s some precedent on the staffing. By the way, with Trump, it’s not just Bannon, Gorka and Stephen Miller; the administration has pulled in personnel from national anti-immigrant groups founded by White nationalist John Tanton to serve at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Trump’s amplification of neonazi Twitter and his defense of the Charlottesville Unite the Right really are extraordinary developments indeed. Different even from the Klan, which is American as apple pie, Nazis have been beyond the pale even for many armchair racists since U.S. involvement in World War II. The White nationalists and fascists who marched in Charlottesville are part of a revolutionary movement seeking to overthrow the current political order. Even racist politicians who defend the current system of White dominance generally reject insurrectionists as treasonous. Trump has broken with that tradition.

How much of what we’re seeing now are things that many people weren’t paying attention to before?

Trump’s campaign and election have been a wake-up call for many people. In a way, Trump represents the fruition of the economic and social initiatives of the Hard Right in the 1960s and ‘70s that led to the election of Reagan and have continued ever since.

We have been in an extended social and economic crisis in the U.S., and now that emergency is being felt by a much broader segment of society.

One way to think about this moment is to acknowledge that we have been in an extended social and economic crisis in the U.S., and now that emergency is being felt by a much broader segment of society. Suddenly, there is open and widespread discussion in mainstream media about whether the president is a proto-fascist and whether the U.S. is drifting toward autocracy. These are valid questions. Yet conditions were already quasi-authoritarian if you lived in a low-income African American community—in terms of things like policing, denial of due process, regulation of the body and family, deprivation of social services, and denial of education and economic opportunities. To get an idea of what a more authoritarian U.S. could look like, we should look not only at other nations’ histories but also more deeply into the American experience.

So there’s both deep continuity and rupture in this moment. We believe there’s a danger of descent into something more authoritarian but it’s in no way inevitable and it’s all of our jobs to prevent that. Some find the possibility novel and shocking while others view it as an extension of current conditions. Holding those different perspectives simultaneously can be a challenge but is necessary to the project of building a mass movement—not only for resistance but for transformative change.

Photo: Johnny Silvercloud via Flickr.

What are your concerns about the normalization of Trumpism?

We can’t allow what’s happening under this regime to become normalized but neither can we behave as if resistance to oppressive governance began in November 2016.

There’s a gift in this moment: tens of thousands of people are newly aware of themselves as historical actors and are forming (or reforming) their sense of purpose in this extended moment of crisis. There is tremendous opportunity for deep transformation there, of understanding our roles as social and political actors. There’s also tension with and tremendous challenge for movements that have long been in the struggle for transformational change. We are at an inflection point in the social, cultural, and political life of this country, in which simply having a well-formed opinion is insufficient.

In general, we have to practice deep solidarity: if the regime comes for any of us, they will have to come through all of us.  

Non-normalization involves grounding ourselves in shared values. In general, we have to practice deep solidarity: if the regime comes for any of us, they will have to come through all of us.

Is this a fight we can win?

People define the fight differently. For some, success might be getting back to something like what existed under Obama or Clinton. For others, including PRA, the levels of economic and social inequality; the violent, unprecedented deportation program; the military adventurism and reliance on drone warfare; the decimation of economic opportunities for an ever-growing part of the working and middle classes; the ongoing attacks on reproductive justice and LGBTQ rights; the system of mass incarceration—these were all unacceptable conditions even before Trump. For us, Trump represents an escalation of the local and global crisis of liberal democracies. The answer cannot be, as in France, defeating the Far Right at the ballot box with a supposed liberal whose austerity programs will worsen economic inequality and possibly strengthen opportunities for the Right down the road.

There should be no going backward to unjust economic and social arrangements, however worse present circumstances have become. Russian meddling aside, the crisis of our political and economic systems facilitated Trump’s rise to power. His explanation of the causes and remedies for our crises were and remain horrifyingly wrong, but he got a hearing in part because he connected his bigotry to an unrelenting insistence that the economy is fundamentally broken for everyday people. Any victory over Trump that’s worth fighting for should advance a more fundamental restructuring of our social, political, and economic lives and must reject the sort of neoliberal austerity economics that have bipartisan support.

Do I think it’s possible? Yes, but there are many challenges and a desperation for anything but Trumpism could lead to set our sights too low. It took decades for the Right to consolidate this much power and it will take more than one or two political cycles to produce transformational alternatives. We need to shore up institutional pillars of democracy, like the judiciary, that, however inadequate, are critical bulwarks against the worst excesses of the Right. At the same time, it’s a moment to be pretty bold about the need for fundamental structural changes, because the brokenness of our social and economic systems require more than a little tinkering.

Photo: Courtesy of Tim Plenk.


Steve Bannon’s “Washed Out” Antisemitism

Steve Bannon speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland. Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

Stephen K. Bannon was the Executive Chairman of the Far Right media website Breitbart from March 2012 to August 2016, and from August 2017 to January 9, 2018. Between the two periods he took a leave of absence to be Donald Trump’s campaign adviser during the 2016 presidential election, and then his Chief Advisor and member of the National Security Council principals committee. After ongoing tensions with other members of the administration, Bannon left the White House in August 2017 and returned to Breitbart. In January 2018, a scandal regarding his comments about Trump’s family resulted in him stepping down from his position. During his tenure with Trump, Bannon was a lightning rod for controversy, personifying the conspiracy-driven nationalist wing of the administration. He has frequently been accused of White nationalism and antisemitism.

Bannon has said, “I’m not a white nationalist, I’m a nationalist. I’m an economic nationalist.” This means “you have to control three things,” he told Vanity Fair, “borders, currency, and military and national identity.” He has publicly repudiated both White nationalism and antisemitism, and openly courts both people of color and Jews for his political project, for example speaking at the 2017 Zionist Organization of America meeting. (However, few would question that Breitbart is Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, and misogynistic.) But, especially looking beneath the surface, the political views and influences that Bannon admits to, his personal comments and political relationships, as well as Breitbart’s content itself, all provide plenty of ammunition for accusations of antisemitism.


The most concrete political act linking Bannon to antisemitism was Breitbart’s publication of “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt Right” by Milo Yiannopoulos, then still an editor at the publication, and Allum Bokhari in March 2016. It promoted the Alt Right, while both sanitizing its commitment to White nationalism and completely ignoring the movement’s aggressive antisemitism. This was one of the movement’s most important breakthroughs into the mainstream. During the Republican National Convention in July 2016, Bannon said Breitbart was the “platform for the alt-right.” He told Mother Jones, “I don’t think that the alt-right is anti-Semitic at all,” but also clarified this by saying: “Are there anti-Semitic people involved in the alt-right? Absolutely. Are there racist people involved in the alt-right? Absolutely. But I don’t believe that the movement overall is anti-Semitic.”

Internal Breitbart emails discussing the Yiannopoulos and Bokhari article were later leaked to Buzzfeed and published in October 2017. They disclose that Bannon personally approved the Alt Right article, and that Breitbart staff actively discussed how to deal with the antisemitic beliefs of the same Far Right figures they were seeking to promote and work with, such as neo-Nazi hacker Weev. More recently, Alt Right figure “Baked Alaska” (Anthime Gionet) said that when he worked for Breitbart, they also asked him to delete his antisemitic social media posts.

While this does show that Breitbart was completely aware of the antisemitism of the Alt Right, it also shows that they did not wish to promote these views. There is no evidence they tried to challenge the content of the beliefs or do anything more than whitewash or hide them.

In July 2016, Bannon still would not clearly admit that the Alt Right was white nationalist and antisemitic. He told Sara Posner, “Look, are there some people that are White nationalists that are attracted to some of the philosophies of the alt-right? Maybe.” He continued, “Are there some people that are anti-Semitic that are attracted? Maybe. Right? Maybe some people are attracted to the alt-right that are homophobes, right? But that’s just like, there are certain elements of the progressive left and the hard left that attract certain elements.”

By November 2016, he started to hedge on this. Bannon told the Wall Street Journal, “Our definition of the alt-right is younger people who are anti-globalists, very nationalist, terribly anti-establishment.” He said, “We provide an outlet for 10 or 12 or 15 lines of thought—we set it up that way,” of which the Alt Right is “a tiny part of that.” He admitted the movement has “some racial and anti-Semitic overtones.” The Wall Street Journal summarized that Bannon “makes clear he has zero tolerance for such views”—a statement which Breitbart ran as a headline.

In a November 2016 interview on the Slate podcast The Gist, former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro—who had left the publication in disgust—was asked about Bannon and antisemitism. Shapiro said, “I have no evidence that Steve’s an anti-Semite. I think Steve’s a very, very power-hungry dude who’s willing to use anybody and anything in order to get ahead, and that includes making common cause with the racist, anti-Semitic alt-right.” When asked if that constituted antisemitism, he replied, “I want to be careful about attributing personal anti-Semitism to him. I will say that it is appeasement of anti-Semitism, which in my book is certainly not a good thing.”


Breitbart’s content under Bannon includes a strong emphasis on stories which reflect various traditional antisemitic narratives, but where the actor is not named as “the Jews.” Instead it is sometimes another group which has traditionally been used either as a “code word” for Jews, while at other times it is a specific Jewish person who the narrative is used against. There are a range of these articles. As Political Research Associates contributor Matthew Lyons writes in his forthcoming book Insurgent Supremacists: The U.S. Far Right’s Challenge to State and Empire, this approach allows one to harness the emotional power of the antisemitic narrative, and appeals to conscious antisemites, while simultaneously giving a kind of plausible deniability against accusations of antisemitism.

Endless Breitbart articles decry the “globalist elites” and “globalism,” and in one particularly pointed statement, Bannon decries the “establishment, globalist clique.” Numerous articles target liberal financier George Soros, who is described using traditional antisemitic imagery at least twice: one article calls him the “Puppet Master,” and a Breitbart Tweet says he is “Like an octopus.” “Cultural Marxism” is a frequent target; this narrative emerged as a form of coded antisemitism where the Frankfurt School philosophers, who were largely Jewish, were accused of being the cause of all the social ills that antisemites usually blame “the Jews” for. Terms like the “coastal elite,” “puppet masters,” “string pullers,” “banksters,” and the “octopus”—all of which have been used as antisemitic code words—are frequently trotted out. So are institutions which antisemites frequently target as the mechanisms of Jewish control, including the Federal Reserve and Trilateral Commission.

How Coded Antisemitism Works

A Nazi antisemitic cartoon, circa 1938, depicts an octopus with a Star of David over its head with tentacles encompassing a globe. Credit: Library of Congress, courtesy of USHMM Photo Archives.

This analysis should be treated with some caution. Antisemitism both frequently hides itself by using “code words”—terms that are understood by some listeners to mean one thing, while other listeners understand that the term is supposed to refer to another subject. (Sometimes this is also called a “dog whistle.”) The vicious antisemite David Duke, for example, consistently refers to “the Zionists.” While listeners may think he is referring to supporters of Israel, his regular followers understand that Duke really is talking about “the Jews.” And there are dozens of such code words that refer to Jews.

The challenge becomes: what is the difference between actual criticism of the named subject, and when is this antisemitism? The background of the speaker are one way. For example, looking at Duke’s history, we can see how he used “the Jews” before switching to “the Zionists.” Another analysis is to look at the narrative structures. Any conspiracy theory that names an individual or collective subset of Jews can be considered to be antisemitic. (This approach is a literary technique called synecdoche, where a part is used to stand in for the whole.) Conspiracies about Soros and the Rothschild family are common examples of this. It’s no coincidence that Jewish bankers are frequent targets of conspiracy theories, while other bankers who have more wealth and power very rarely are.

The second kind of antisemitic technique is to use a code word that does not refer directly to an agent which is Jewish—for example, “cultural marxism” or “international bankers.” In some cases, the origin of that kind of conspiracy theory can be traced back to its formation by antisemites as an intentional synecdoche. For example, the “cultural marxist” conspiracy theory originated by naming the Frankfurt School (a Marxist school which focused on theorizing the role of culture) as the agent, who were identified as being Jewish. Over time, the agent of the narrative moved away from the Frankfurt School specifically, and became “cultural marxism”—something that was now two steps away from the original antisemitic formation.

Another approach by antisemites is to deploy conspiracy theories that name agents like like “international bankers” or organizations like the Federal Reserve. In the original form, for example, the Federal Reserve was accused of being formed by Jewish bankers. “International bankers” became a commonly used code word referring to Jews, as well.

However, when someone invokes these conspiracy theories today, they may or may not be aware of these histories. Here, the background of the speaker is of importance; we should treat the use of these differently if a known antisemite like Duke invokes them, rather than if they are espoused by an otherwise unproblematic left-wing critic of globalization.

However, the intention of the speaker does not necessarily have anything to do with the impact of the narrative. In both cases, the speaker is using the emotional power of the antisemitic narrative: an apocalyptic battle between a secretive evil elite and a virtuous people. And, intentionally or not, these narratives are also received by some listeners as code words: antisemites will understand that the Federal Reserve and the international bankers refer to the Jewish conspiracy.

While it can be argued whether conspiracy theories about the Federal Reserve, international bankers, or the New World Order constitute antisemitism when used by otherwise unproblematic actors, they are both politically fallacious world views, and anyone who takes antisemitism seriously would avoid the use of these terms and narratives because of their histories.

In Bannon’s case, he has read the classics of reactionary nationalist literature, and understands very well that some of his listeners will interpret the constant invocations of classic antisemitic images and narratives to mean “the Jews.” Just as with his approach to ethno-nationalists, it appears that Bannon wants a “washed out” antisemitism, based directly on the antisemitic narrative structure and using its imagery (octopuses, puppet masters, cliques of international banker) while either naming individual Jews, or groups that others had previously been identified as Jewish (as the Frankfurt School, the Federal Reserve), as the villains. He is no doubt intentionally using these narratives to appeal to both antisemites and those who don’t understand the double meaning— while simultaneously inoculating against accusations of antisemitism.

Breitbart actually has attacked leftists and Islamists for both antisemitism and coded antisemitic statements—albeit different ones than those that the site uses. For example, they criticized former Congressional representative Cynthia McKinney for blaming Israel for Islamist attacks in Nice and Munich, as well as for insinuating that Israel was behind 9/11. (However, consistency is not Breitbart’s greatest virtue, as it has also accused a Mexican-U.S. dual citizen of having dual loyalties.) While the image of the Octopus is used to attack the radical left—and even the International Seabed Authority, which was decried as the “the international octopus’s tentacle” reaching into “the Yankee boat”—Breitbart has also criticized the Palestinian Authority newspaper al-Hayat al-Jadida for an antisemitic conspiracy theory about Mossad and Israel. Breitbart also attacked then-Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi for antisemitic comments and conspiracy theories. The publication has also run articles decrying antisemitism in Europe, as well as dozens of stories about U.S. campuses.

Strange as this may seem, it is not uncommon, especially for Islamophobes, to used coded antisemitism while simultaneously supporting Israel—Norwegian mass murderer Anders Brevik, for example, was very pro-Zionist while obsessed with the idea of “Cultural Marxism.” But what Breitbart does is different: it uses a selective coded antisemitism against its enemies, especially those who are left-leaning; while simultaneously denouncing them when the exact same code words and narratives are used against conservatives. It plays out as the “good Jew” / “bad Jew” division, a dynamic which is used against almost all historically oppressed people. Here, the “bad Jews” are opponents, often but not only on the left, and who become the potential targets of attacks which use antisemitic narratives, while the “good Jews,” who are Breitbart’s political allies, will be protected from such things. (See below for criticisms of how the publication treated Bill Kristol and Anne Applebaum.)


During Trump’s campaign, an October speech and November television ad both relied directly on what are traditional antisemitic narratives but with different agents. In the West Palm Beach, Florida speech, Trump said, “Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends and her donors.” In an ad which ran the weekend before the election, classic antisemitic narratives about Jewish bankers acting in secret against the nation were deployed. Four figures were pictured: Clinton, and three Jews involved in finance: Soros, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, and Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen. The ad said:

The establishment has trillions of dollars at stake in this election. For those who control the levers of power in Washington and for the global special interests. They partner with these people who don’t have your good in mind…. It’s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.

The last two words are enunciated slowly and carefully—like a verbal wink—signaling that the listener should understand that a code word is being invoked. Christian Picciolini, a 1980s Nazi skinhead leader who later founded the group Life After Hate which helps people leave racist organizations, said about the campaign ad: “When I saw that video the first thing I thought was ‘Wow, this is a White Power video.’ I would have made this 30 years ago and I could have written the speeches that he [Trump] is saying.” The Anti-Defamation League tweeted that “This #Trump ad touches on images and rhetoric that anti-Semites have used for ages. Jason Greenblatt, the Trump campaign’s Vice President, replied, “The ADL should focus on real anti-Semitism and hatred, and not try to find any where none exist.”

The author of the speech and ad have not been revealed. However, the rhetoric is consistent with Breitbart’s, and Bannon is thought by some to be the author of both pieces, which are out of step with Trump’s general rhetorical approach. But even if he was not the actual writer, as with the Breitbart stories about Applebaum and Kristol which appeared while he was not at the publication, Bannon’s presence and approach seems to have helped create a political climate inside these organizations where these kinds of statements are acceptable.


Sometimes scholars make a distinction between “antisemitism,” the notion of a global Jewish conspiracy, and “anti-Jewish prejudice,” which is a commonplace ethnic bigotry. In the latter, Jews (usually Ashkenazi) are seen as pushy and cranky—but are not said to be devious international bankers engaged in a plot to enslave the world. The most damning evidence against Bannon is actually an accusation of everyday ethnic prejudice.

Bannon’s ex-wife Mary Louise Piccard, during their 2007 divorce proceedings, said that when the couple was looking at the Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles, Bannon said he did not want his daughters “going to school with Jews.” According to Piccard, “He said he doesn’t like Jews and that he doesn’t like the way they raise their kids to be ‘whiney brats.’” She also said the Bannon asked the director of another school they looked at why there were so many Hanukkah books. Bannon’s spokesperson denied the allegations, saying “Mr Bannon never said anything like that and proudly sent the girls to Archer for their middle school and high school education.”

Despite these comments, there is no evidence that Bannon has ill-treated Jewish employees at Breitbart. He befriended Andrew Breitbart, who was Jewish, and took over the company after he died. During his tenure, Bannon started a Jerusalem branch, and has openly courted Jewish conservatives—most recently speaking at the ZOA (Zionist Organization of America) gathering in November 2017. (Despite his warm welcome, even there the audience reportedly bristled when he denounced the “global class.”)

No Jewish employees have come forward to say they experienced antisemitism either at Breitbart, or from Bannon. Joel Pollak, a Breitbart editor and orthodox Jew who holds an MA in Jewish Studies, describes Bannon as “outraged by anti-Semitism” and that he “cares deeply about the fate of Jewish communities.” Even Shapiro, who quit Breitbart in disgust over questions of antisemitism, said he had no knowledge of Breitbart discriminating against Jews—including himself.


Bannon has cited two thinkers of particular note. The first, Charles Maurras, was part of the important French proto-fascist group Action Française. An open antisemite, he took the right-wing position in the Dreyfus Affair.1 During the Nazi occupation, when French Jews were forced to wear yellow stars on their clothes, Maurras said this was an opportunity to rid the country of the “Jewish scourge.” He was later imprisoned and convicted for aiding the Nazis after France was freed from German occupation.

The second, René Guénon, was a Traditionalist religious philosopher; this anti-modernist current believes that all major world religions are representatives of an underlying true current of belief. (Bannon told a reporter that reading Guénon’s Man and His Becoming According to the Vedanta was “a life- changing discovery.”) Guénon was a conservative but not a fascist, and Traditionalist influences can be found in a wide variety of different political and spiritual traditions. However, Guénon’s antipathy to democracy and equality clearly lean right, and he directly influenced Julius Evola, an Italian fascist philosopher who has been in vogue for a number of years, influencing both the Alt Right and Russia’s Aleksandr Dugin.

On the other hand, the influence of the antisemite Evola on Bannon has been overblown. The New York Times dedicated an entire article to a dismissive passing mention of Evola in Bannon’s 2014 speech at the Vatican. (Considered one of the most comprehensive elucidations of Bannon’s philosophical views, this Skype address was delivered to a conference hosted by the Human Dignity Institute think tank). Bannon said:

Vladimir Putin, when you really look at some of the underpinnings of some of his beliefs today, a lot of those come from what I call Eurasianism; he’s got an adviser [i.e., Aleksandr Dugin] who harkens back to Julius Evola and different writers of the early 20th century who are really the supporters of what’s called the traditionalist movement, which really eventually metastasized into Italian fascism. A lot of people that are traditionalists are attracted to that.

More recently, in emails leaked from Breitbart where Bannon discusses his thoughts on the draft of the infamous Alt Right piece before publication, he wrote, “I do appreciate any piece that mentions Evola.” Nonetheless, the published article only mentions Evola’s influence on the Alt Right as a matter of fact, and there are no other pieces in Breitbart where Evola is cited in an appreciative manner.


Bannon has also cultivated ties to a variety of European right-wing populist parties. Some of these parties initially emerged as a mainstreaming of fascist politics, including France’s Front National, which Bannon has cultivated ties with. However, current party leader Marine LePen has worked hard to cleanse the party of direct antisemitism, going to far as to expel Jean-Marie LePen—both the founder of the party, as well as her father—after he reiterated that the Holocaust was just “a detail of history.”

Bannon has admitted as much about these parties, although he has tried to downplay the situation. At his Vatican talk he said, “I’m not an expert in this, but it seems that they have had some aspects that may be anti-Semitic or racial.” However, he described these as fringe elements, and said that “over time it all gets kind of washed out, right? People understand what pulls them together, and the people on the margins I think get marginalized more and more.” He repeated this in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, saying, “I’ve also said repeatedly that the ethno-nationalist movement, prominent in Europe, will change over time. I’ve never been a supporter of ethno-nationalism.” Just after Charlottesville, in an American Prospect interview, he used stronger language: “Ethno-nationalism—it’s losers. It’s a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more,” adding, “These guys are a collection of clowns.”

Bannon does seem to reject any insistence on a racially homogenous nation—the demand for a White ethnostate, which is the defining element of the White nationalist Alt Right. This is in line with his Christian nationalism, based in turn on his ultra-conservative version of Roman Catholicism (his family rejects the move away from the Latin mass, which was part of the modernizing Vatican II council in the 1960s). He constantly makes appeals to West’s “Judeo-Christian” heritage—although his supporting details seem to never refer to Jewish history in the West, and references to this joint history appears to be a used to summon up the notion of a joint Christian-Jewish alliance against Islam.

In November 2016, Bannon told the Hollywood Reporter that, “we’ll get 60 percent of the white vote, and 40 percent of the black and Hispanic vote and we’ll govern for 50 years.” This is not the perspective of a White nationalist—but it is consistent with a Christian nationalist with reactionary social views who is influenced by proto-fascist, European reactionary thought.

Bannon’s own words seem to nicely summarize his views: he wishes to use the themes, images, and speaking points of ethno-nationalists, while divesting himself of their insistence on racial purity. He seeks a “washed out” ethno-nationalism, based on its original arguments and goals, but while not insisting on a purity of identity.


While endorsements by third parties cannot be taken as evidence of someone’s own views, they do show who Bannon’s work reverberates with and how antisemites see their views as in tune with his. Numerous Alt Right and other antisemitic White nationalists praised his time in Trump’s administration, including the Daily Stormer’s Andrew Anglin, Richard Spencer, David Duke, Rocky Suhayda of the American Nazi Party, and the Traditionalist Worker Party’s Tony Hovater, who was infamously profiled in the New York Times in November 2017.

“Breitbart went hardcore when he was running it,” Anglin said about Bannon in November 2016. “It is still hardcore now. It really changed from being this kind of basic cuckservative type website to being this, I mean, the articles that they publish about blacks in America and about Muslims in Europe, it’s basically stuff that you would read on the Daily Stormer.”


While Breitbart avoids explicit naming of “the Jews” as the agents of the conspiracies it spreads, the comments section is less circumspect. An SPLC study showed that between 2013 and 2016, the comments had moved increasingly to vilify Jews. According to Politico,  Bannon “said the best things about Breitbart are the comments section and the callers.” In the piece attacking Applebaum, numerous antisemitic comments appeared and have never been removed.2 In November 2016, Shapiro said the comments section had become “a cesspool for white supremacist mememakers.”


Last, there have been two Breitbart articles which were widely accused of being antisemitic because of way they singled out Jewish individuals who were being criticized.  The first was a September 2016 piece where the Washington Post’s Anne Applebaum was attacked for her “attempts to impose a globalist worldview upon citizenries that reject it,” and which denounced her by saying, “Hell hath no fury like a Polish, Jewish, American elitist scorned.” Breitbart specifically pointed out that she was Jewish, even thought it  was completely irrelevant to the rest of the article. The second was a May 2017 David Horowitz article, “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew Prepares Third Party Effort to Block Trump’s Path to White House,” which was widely criticized for the phrase “renegade Jew.” (The title was later shortened, although the “Renegade Jew” phrase remained.)  Similar to Appelbaum, Kristol’s Jewishness had little to do with the rest of the article. Although Bannon was on his leave of absence and working with Trump when both appeared, the editorial direction he instituted at Breitbart persisted.


Bannon and Breitbart harness the narrative power of antisemitic conspiracy theories, while not naming “the Jews”—or blaming all Jews. Breitbart defends and encourages right-wing Jews, while using antisemitic attacks on those that clash with his project. It is the conclusion of this analysis that Bannon uses a “washed out” antisemitism knowingly. He is quite aware that his Far Right nationalist project abuts open White nationalism and antisemitism, and Bannon wishes to both use these ideas and court the support of these activists, while giving himself a position of deniability from the larger social taboos against these movements. After all, their end goals are mostly the same: they both want a majority White, heterosexual, Christian country. Bannon is just willing to accept an outcome with a lower level of homogeneity.

End Notes

1 The Dreyfus Affair was a famous case in France in the late 1890s and early 1900s. A French Captain Alfred Dreyfus, who was of Jewish descent, was framed as being a spy for Germany; he was convicted and sent to a penal colony. Protests on his behalf, including by novelist Émile Zola, led to the “Dreyfusard” movement, which was driven by supporters of equal rights. They were opposed by “anti-Dreyfusards,” who were antisemitic nationalists with strong Catholic elements. The Dreyfus Affair was one of the famous antisemitic incidents in Western Europe until Hitler rose to power in Germany.

2 Comments include examples like: “ANOTHER Marxist Jew who believes themselves to be superior (as opposed to simply xenophobic tribalistic practices that block any, who aren’t in the tribe, and thus, any voice who points out their criminal failures..)” and “Now Why Would An ( ( (Applebaum) ) ) be shilling for Globalist/NWO ????”

The Big Picture: Far Right Mobilization in 2017

Memorial for Heather Heyer in downtown Charlottesville. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Mical via Flickr.

In the United States, 2017 was a banner year for fascist and related far right activism. There were arguably the highest levels of public demonstrations by the Right since the last wave of Klan and neonazi activity in the 1980s and ‘90s. A main driver was the Alt Right, a new, digitally focused approach to White nationalism that has caught the cultural zeitgeist. It acted in tandem with the Alt Lite, an offshoot movement that shares enthusiasm for Trump, xenophobia, misogyny, Islamophobia, anti-Leftism, Far Right conspiracy theories, and “fake news,” but stops short of open White nationalism and allows people of color, Jews, and gay men to participate.

The past year has also been marked by clashes with left-wing protestors, who have been broadly labeled “antifa” (short for antifascist). Although antifa have been around as long as fascism has, and broad popular resistance surged in response to Trump’s election, the name has come to be used by the press and others to cover anyone who attends protests against the Far Right.

The Far Right events of 2017—starting with pro-Trump and “Free Speech” rallies in January, and then morphing into support for Confederate memorials, as well as Islamophobic  and “Anti-Marxist” rallies—are notable. Especially during the period between March and June, the Alt Right and other open White Nationalists, Alt Light activists, Patriot movement paramilitaries, and Trumpist Republicans worked together on the streets in numerous cities. The most infamous incident occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017, when, after the “Unite the Right” rally was cancelled, a fascist rammed his car into an antiracist march, killing one person and injuring at least nineteen others.

In tandem with right-wing action taken in the streets, the Alt Lite has been able to directly influence mainstream conservatives. Two of Trump’s appointees, Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, had ties to White nationalists and fascists (although both lost their positions soon after Charlottesville) and Alt Lite media representatives received White House press passes.

It was also a year where the political impact of digital platforms has come into clear prominence, including memes, discussion boards like 4chan, and Trump’s apparent favorite, Twitter. The landscape of our society has changed so much that a pizza company took to Twitter to distance themselves from neonazis who have embraced it. Additionally, a video game where players shoot Nazis—which just a few years ago would have been considered meaningless entertainment based on a banal theme—is now both a subject of controversy and taken seriously as a work of political commentary.

Even with so much of the political action occurring online, college campuses became main physical sites of conflict, with White nationalist flyering campaigns and a focus by various Far Right figures to get speaking engagements, which were invariably met by raucous protests.

Analyzing the Far Right mobilization that occurred in 2017 can inform social justice movement strategy as we enter year two of the Trump administration. In presenting this long list of events on the timeline below, there is unavoidably a strong subjective choice as to what has been included. History will no doubt be written differently: important things will be forgotten, while others—currently overlooked—will be added. But I do feel confident that this is a fair enough representation of how 2017 appeared at the time to those of us who were paying close attention as the U.S. fascist movement bobbed and weaved.


  • 3rd: Director John Carpenter denounces antisemitic interpretations of his cult movie They Live, saying it “is about yuppies and unrestrained capitalism. It has nothing to do with Jewish control of the world, which is slander and a lie.”
  • 10th: Dylann Roof is sentenced to death for murdering nine Black bible study participants at Charleston, South Carolina’s Emanuel AME Church in June 2015. Roof had hoped to incite a race war with his actions.
  • 13th: Alt Right figure Mike Enoch, who runs the internet platform The Right Stuff, is doxxed. It is revealed that his real name is Mike Peinovich, he works in tech, lives on Manhattan’s wealthy Upper East Side, and is married to a Jewish woman.
  • 16th:
    • Alt Right leader Richard Spencer launches his new website AltRight.com.
    • In response to a pressure campaign against Richard Spencer’s headquarters in Whitefish, Montana, Andrew Anglin of the Daily Stormer called for an armed march against the town’s Jewish residents on this date. He had proclaimed, “We will be busing in skinheads from the Bay Area.” Before the march, Anglin said he would postpone it, but about 50 antifascists assemble in town just in case.
  • 19th: The Alt Lite DeploraBall” is held in Washington, DC on the eve of Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration. Organized by Jeff Giesea and Mike Cernovich, attendees include Jack Posobiec, Gavin McInnes, and Milwaukee sheriff David Clarke. Alt Right figure “Baked Alaska” (Anthime Gionet) and Richard Spencer are uninvited for their political views. Scuffles break out with counter-protestors outside the event.
  • 20th:
    • A large “black bloc” with hundreds of participants careens through the city during the protests against Trump’s inauguration. Eventually 230 members are kettled and arrested, including journalists and street medics; in an unprecedented event, all are charged with felonies and face the possibility of 70­–80 year sentences. Members of the Oath Keepers leadership are present and witness some of the events of the day, although they do not become involved. Separately, Richard Spencer is giving a recorded interview when a masked man punches him in the face. This becomes a viral internet video, which initiates a public discussion of if it is okay to “punch a Nazi.”
    • Protests break out at the University of Washington in Seattle against a Milo Yiannopoulos talk. Joshua Dukes is shot as he tries to deescalate a fight. Elizabeth and Marc Hokoana are arrested and accused of having come to the protest in order to provoke a conflict.
  • 21st: Worldwide Women’s March protests.
  • 26th: Actor Shia LaBeouf is arrested for scuffling with a neonazi at the He Will Not Divide Us installation at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York. This video live stream (that was supposed to run 24-hours a day) soon becomes overrun by various Alt Right activists, including many White nationalists, who use it to spread propaganda. LaBeouf is forced to move the installation multiple times.
  • 27th: Trump fails to mention Jews in his Holocaust Remembrance Day statement.
  • 28th: Starting with New York City’s JFK, airports become the site of protests against Trump’s “Muslim ban,” which prevented people from seven predominately Muslim countries from entering the US—even if they had valid visas and were temporarily out of the country. Over the week, thousands of people join in as the airport protests spread around the country
  • 29th:
    • Six worshippers are killed and 19 others wounded in a mass shooting at mosque in Quebec City, Canada. Alexandre Bissonnette is arrested. The victims are Azzeddine Soufiane, Khaled Belkacemi, Ibrahima Barry, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Abdelkrim Hassane, and Boubaker Thabti.
    • A hundred people protest at the new headquarters of Richard Spencer’s think tank  National Policy Institute (NPI) in Alexandria, Virginia.


  • 1st: A Milo Yiannopoulos talk at Berkeley is cancelled due to safety concerns after a militant protest. It had been rumored he was going to name undocumented students at the school.  This initiates a long discussion in the mainstream media about antifa and Free Speech that continues all year, and marks the beginning of many conflicts on campuses.
  • 2nd: Clashes in New York City between Proud Boys and protesters at a Gavin McInnes talk at NYU. McInnes is reportedly hit with pepper-spray earlier that evening then has his talk is cut short after he calls the dean a “beta male cuck.
  • 9th:
    • Frank Ancona, the Imperial Wizard of the Traditionalist American Knights, is killed; his body is later found on the bank of a river near Belgrade, Missouri. His wife and stepson are charged in his death.
    • Augusta University president released a statement decrying the appearance of Identity Evropa flyers on campus. This fascist Alt Right group fliers campuses across the nation as part of “Project Siege.” Many White nationalist groups and projects focus on flyering colleges as well, including Vanguard America, Atomwaffen Division, The Right Stuff, Daily Stormer, and AltRight.com. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has tracked over 329 flyering incidents since March 2016, with a spike in February 2017.
  • 10th: Michael Strickland, who antagonized a Black Lives Matter rally in July 2016 in Portland, Oregon before pulling a gun on the crowd, is convicted of menacing and disorderly conduct. He is later sentenced to 40 days in jail, to be served on weekends.
  • 18th: Richard Spencer is thrown out of International Students for Liberty Conference, a libertarian gathering in Washington, DC.
  • 20th: Employees at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri arrive to find over 100 headstones vandalized. On February 25, a Philadelphia Jewish cemetery is similarly vandalized.
  • 21st: Milo Yiannopoulos resigns from Breitbart after his statements seeming to support sex between adult men and young teenage boys are publicized. He is dis-invited from Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and his book deal with Simon & Schuster is cancelled.
  • 22nd: Adam Purinton shouts “Get out of my country!” before shooting three men at a bar in Olathe, Kansas. Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an Indian immigrant, is killed.
  • 23rd: Steve Bannon speaks at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Richard Spencer is kicked out. Milo Yiannopoulos had been scheduled to speak, but was uninvited beforehand.


  • 2nd: Charles Murray is prevented from speaking at Middlebury College in Vermont by students. Murray is the co-author of the 1994 book The Bell Curve, which was widely denounced as a racist text which sought to justify racial differences in intelligence.
  • 3rd: Deep Rai, a Sikh and U.S. citizen who was born in India, is shot in his driveway in suburban Seattle. His White assailant yelled, “Go back to your own country.” Sikh men are frequent targets of hate crimes because of the distinctive clothing they wear.
  • 4th: The March 4 Trump is the first of several nationwide Far Right rallies which occur through June 10. They draw a new coalition of Trumpist Republicans, Alt Lite and Alt Right activists, Patriot movement paramilitaries, and fascists. Notable March 4 Trump events include Lake Oswego, Oregon (a suburb of Portland), where Three Percenters joined by a well-known Klan member. In Denver, neo-Nazis joined Three Percenters and Islamophobic groups. A second clash in Berkeley occurs, which is memorable for Kyle Chapman coming dressed in body armor and photographed wielding a stick, which turned into the meme “Based Stickman.” This inspired an Alt Right uniform, and more militant rightist action.
  • 8th: The California Highway Patrol (CHP) releases a 2,000 page report on the June 2016 clash at the California State Capitol in Sacramento which pit hundreds of antifascists against a much smaller number of Nazi skinheads who attempted to hold a demonstration under the name of the Traditionalist Worker Party. Fourteen people were wounded, including seven stabbing victims. The CHP recommends that 106 people be charged with 68 felonies and 514 misdemeanors. Eventually four arrest warrants are issued: three for antifascists and one for a fascist.
  • 13th: NPI is stripped of its tax exempt status as a non-profit for failing to file proper paperwork.
  • 17th: Mother Jones reveals that Richard Spencer gets money from multiple family-owned cotton farms.
  • 20th: Timothy Caughman is killed by James Jackson in New York City. Jackson, who is White, allegedly told police that he came to the city to kill as many Black men as he could find. He told a newspaper that he read the Daily Stormer; he also subscribed to YouTube video channels for Richard Spencer’s NPI and Radix.
  • 22nd: A former church owned by Craig Cobb is burned down in Nome, North Dakota. Cobb had repeatedly bought property in small Midwestern towns to attempt to establish a White enclave, most famously in Leith, North Dakota.
  • 23rd: A wave of more than 150 bomb threats against Jewish community centers and schools, which started in January, end with the arrest of a teenage hacker in Israel. Previously, a disgraced journalist, Juan Thompson, was arrested for making at least a dozen of the threats in an attempt to frame his ex-girlfriend.
  • 24th: Alex Jones apologizes to the owner of Comet Ping Pong in Washington, DC for promoting the Pizzagate conspiracy theory. The conspiracy held that children were part of a sex trafficking ring that involved the restaurant and a number of Democratic Party members.
  • 25th: The MAGA (“Make American Great Again”) march is the second nationwide pro-Trump event this month. Two thousand attend a Huntington Beach, California march. There, the DIY Division (later renamed the Rise Above Movement), a fascist group that includes members of the Hammerskins, attacks a much smaller group of antifa and press. An antiracist counter-protest in Phoenix draws 40 armed participants. A Philadelphia march, which includes many White nationalists, is overwhelmed by antifascists.


  • 8th: Richard Spencer leads a demonstration in Washington, DC opposing Trump’s missile strike the day before against an airbase controlled by the Syrian regime.
  • 15th: A “Patriots Day Free Speech Rally” in Berkeley draws 500 participants after a national right-wing campaign to mobilize supporters. It includes seig-heiling fascists who appear alongside Patriot movement activists, such as Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, who is a speaker. About an equal number of counterprotestors fail to stop the rally from marching into downtown Berkeley. Identity Evropa leader Nathan Domigo is filmed punching a woman, which becomes a right-wing internet hit. The day is considered a great victory for the right and marks a turning of the tables against antifa for the moment.
  • 18th:
    • Richard Spencer speaks at Auburn University in Alabama. Matthew Heimbach and other members of the Traditionalist Worker Party attend, marking the end of a riff between the two. The rally ends with some of the fascists being chased away by the crowd.
    • An SPLC-led lawsuit is initiated against Daily Stormer’s Andrew Anglin for harassing a Jewish family in Whitefish, Montana. By June, Anglin had raised $150,000 for his defense.
  • 21st: Kyle Chapman “Based Stickman” announces the formation of the FOAK (Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights), a street-fighting group affiliated with the Proud Boys.
  • 26th: Allen Scarsella is sentenced to 15 years for shooting five at Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis in 2015. Scarsella was active on 4chan and sympathized with the Three Percenters.
  • 27th: Six members of Aryan Strikeforce are indicted on weapons charges.
  • 29th:
    • An annual parade in Portland, Oregon’s Montavilla neighborhood had been cancelled because of an anonymous threat. In its place Patriot Prayer held a Free Speech rally, which was attended by White nationalists such as Identity Evropa, and briefly by Mayor Ted Wheeler. Jeremy Christian attends and taunts the counter-protest by yelling “ni**er” and sieg heiling them. Organizers ask him to leave, but he is photographed shaking hands with participants.
    • The first major fascist-led rally of the year is held in Pikeville, Kentucky by the Nationalist Front. Participating groups include the Traditionalist Worker Party, Vanguard America, the National Socialist Movement, and the League of the South, as well as Alt Right figure Mike Enoch. About 150 people attend, and there is an equal sized counter-protest.
    • Controversy erupts after a photo, taken in March, is made public of Alt Lite media figures Cassandra Fairbanks and Mike Cernovich in White House briefing room making the “OK” hand gesture. This has been adopted by both the Alt Lite and Alt Right.


  • 1st:
    • Far Right groups harass May Day demonstrations across the country. In New York City Alt Lite activists set off flares and attempt to disrupt speakers in Union Square.  In Austin, Patriot movement activists and others are armed and prevent a left-wing march. In Nashville, May Day organizers report multiple death threats, and they are outnumbered five-to-one at their rally.
    • Start of pro-Confederate memorial rallies. In New Orleans, supporters carry weapons to their May 1 event.
  • 5th: Emails from French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron are leaked to 4chan in an attempt to throw the election to the Far Right party Front National. Alt Lite figure Jack Posobiec helps popularize the leak.
  • 6th:
    • Matt Furie, creator of Pepe the Frog, releases a one-page cartoon strip depicting Pepe’s funeral in an attempt to combat his usurpation by the Alt Right. Furie later retains a law firm which writes cease and desist letters, issues digital copyright takedown notices, and initiates lawsuits to enforce his intellectual property claims.
    • Alt Right members who attempt to attend a Trumpist rally at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul are turned away by both rally organizers and anti-fascists.
  • 7th:
    • Marine LePen of the Far Right party Front National is defeated two-to-one in the French presidential election by neoliberal Emmanuel Macron.
    • A second demonstration in New Orleans, Louisiana in support of keeping Confederate memorials draws a range of right-wing actors from Oath Keepers to neonazis. A protest for their removal draws 700.
  • 9th: Alt Lite figure Jack Posobiec attends a daily White House press briefing on a temporary pass.
  • 12th: Canadian Alt Right figure Lauren Southern is detained in Italy for participating in an attempt to block a Doctors Without Borders ship which was searching for refugees who ran into trouble while crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa.
  • 13th:
    • The first of three unpermitted torch lit rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia is held by Richard Spencer.
    • The first “Free Speech” rally in Boston, Massachusetts is held by Alt Lite and Patriot movement activists.
  • 19th: Devon Arthurs, a former member of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division who converted to Islam, is arrested for killing two of his roommates, Jeremy Himmelman and Andrew Oneschuk, who were said to be members. A fourth man, Florida National Guard Private Brandon Russell, is arrested for possessing bomb-making materials; he pleads guilty in September.
  • 25th: A demonstration in New York City against Muslim feminist Linda Sarsour giving the commencement at the CUNY School of Public Health draws a variety of actors. They include Milo Yiannopoulos, Islamophobe Pamela Geller, right-wing Zionist Dov Hikind, Gavin McInnes, and members of Patriot Prayer.
  • 26th: In Portland, Oregon, Jeremy Christian kills two men, Ricky Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, by slashing their necks; a third man is also slashed, but survives. The three had intervened against Christian to stop his racist and Islamophobic tirade directed at two young Black women on a light rail.


  • 3rd: White nationalist writer Bob Whitaker dies. His most famous work is the “Mantra,” which is the source of the racist slogan “anti-racist is code word for anti-white.”
  • 4th: In the aftermath of the the two murders on May 26, Patriot Prayer refuses to cancel a “Trump Free Speech Rally” in Portland, Oregon. It is attended by hundreds, including Patriot movement groups such as the Oath Keepers and American Freedom Keepers (AFK), as well as Alt Lite activists and Identity Evropa and Traditionalist Worker Party. A much larger group of counter-demonstrators surround the rally on all sides. An AFK member attracts media attention when he is photographed helping law enforcement arrest a counter-protester.
  • 10th:
    • Islamophobic group Act for America holds a nationwide March Against Sharia, with events in over twenty cities. This is the height of the street coalition of various Far Right forces, with Alt Right and Alt Lite activists, Trumpist Republicans, and Patriot movement groups working side-by-side. In many cities they are met by large counter-protests, which start to turn the tables again against Far Right street mobilizations.
    • In Houston, a march is called against a hoax antifa rally to remove a statue of Texas founder Sam Houston. However, hundreds attend the Far Right rally. There, a Patriot movement activist chokes a White nationalist from behind during an argument. This sets off an online flame war between the Alt Right and the Oath Keepers, helping to break up the uneasy de facto alliance between the two parties.
  • 14th:
    • Robert Doggart is sentenced to almost 20 years in prison for threatening to attack Islamberg, a Muslim community in upstate New York.
    • The Southern Baptist Convention condemns Alt-Right and White supremacy.
  • 16th: The play “Julius Caesar” at Shakespeare in the Park in New York City is disrupted by Alt Lite figures Jack Posobiec and Laura Loomer. (Conservative media had alleged the play was a call for the assassination of Trump.) Loomer raises over $13,000 for her legal defense for charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct. Local Alt Lite activists repeat the stunt on the play’s closing night two days later.
  • 18th: Alex Jones appears on Megyn Kelly’s NBC show.
  • 20th: European Identitarians announce they have chartered a ship, which they name the C-Star, to intercept refuges in the Mediterranean and return them to Africa in order to prevent them from reaching Europe, as well as to block ships returning to Europe which have picked up refugees. The project, called “Defend Europe,” raises $178,000 with support from U.S. White nationalists. However, the voyage runs into numerous difficulties, and ends without picking anyone up or disrupting any rescue ships.
  • 22nd: Edgar Maddison Welch is sentenced to four years for shooting an assault rifle inside of Comet Ping Pong, the Washington, DC restaurant which is where the Pizzagate conspiracy theory is set.
  • 23rd: A Department of Homeland Security program, Countering Violent Extremism, makes public that it has revoked an almost $400,000 grant to Life After Hate—the only group on its initial grant list which was dedicated to reducing Far Right activism. The remaining grants all focus on Muslims. This is widely seen as a move by the Trump administration to turn a blind eye to the White supremacist movement, despite its ongoing legacy of violence and murder.
  • 25th:
    • In the wake of the June 14 shooting of four people at a Congressional baseball game, dueling rallies are held in Washington, DC. The Alt Lite “Rally Against Political Violence” is organized by Jack Posobiec and attended by Mike Cernovich, Laura Loomer, Cassandra Fairbanks, Lucian Wintrich, followers of Lyndon LaRouche and members of the skinhead gang 211 Bootboys. The larger, openly White nationalist “Freedom of Speech Rally” includes the Traditionalist Worker Party, Identity Evropa, and Richard Spencer.
    • Identity Evropa activists disrupt an anti-racist seminar in Wilton Manors, Florida. Far Right activists also disrupt two anti-racist trainings in Santa Monica, California in July and early August. In the fall, Berkeley’s Revolution Books, a Maoist bookstore, becomes the target of at least six protests and disruptions in the fall.
  • 26th: Republican Party of Multnomah County, Oregon (which includes Portland) passes a resolution to utilize Patriot movement paramilitary groups the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters for security.


  • 1st:
    • A Far Right rally is held at the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania. It is supposed to be a counter-protest to what is actually a hoax: an antifa group was allegedly going to desecrate Confederate graves. One participant, Benjamin Hornberger, accidentally shoots himself in the leg during the event.
    • Proud Boys who are members of the Canadian military are investigated after they disrupt an First Nations ceremony on Canada Day.
  • 2nd: Trump tweets a video of himself as a wrestler beating up a man with a CNN logo on his face. It is revealed the video was created by a man known for racist and antisemitic commentary.
  • 7th:
    • Fred Perry CEO John Flynn denounces the use of his company’s yellow and black polo shirts as a uniform by the Proud Boys.
    • Dane Powell is the first person sentenced for the J20 demonstration; he receives four months.
  • 7–8th: The G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany is met by a massive counter-protest. A group of right-wing journalists are attacked after one, Alt Right figure Lauren Southern, attends while wearing a White Nationalist t-shirt.
  • 8th: A small KKK rally in Charlottesville, Virginia is met by a counter-protest of 1,000. Twenty-three are arrested.
  • 13th: Augustus Invictus announces he is leaving the Libertarian Party for the GOP.
  • 14th: Former Milo Yiannopoulos intern Lane Davis allegedly kills his father Charles Davis during a political argument.
  • 15th: A second Islamophobic “Ride for Homeland Security” vehicular demonstration is held outside the Muslim community of Islamberg in upstate New York. Proud Boys, Bikers for Trump, and Patriot movement activists attend. Islamberg is the focus of conspiracy theories which claim it is a jihadist training camp.
  • 21st:
    • National Security Council staffer Rich Higgins is let go after his a memo he authored, which reflect Far Right conspiracy theories, becomes public. It identifies Trump’s enemies as Islamists, globalists, bankers, and the “deep state.”
    • A Mother Jones article reveals that wealthy conservative William H. Regnery II is a funder of Richard Spencer.
  • 26th: Trump uses Twitter to announce his intention to bar transgender troops.
  • 27th: Evan McLaren becomes the new Executive Director of NPI.
  • 28–30: The American Renaissance (AmRen) conference attracts 300 at Montgomery Bell State Park, outside of Dickson, Tennessee. AmRen is the most academic conference for the Alt Right.


  • 5th: Ernst Zundel dies in Germany. He had helped popularize Holocaust Denial in Canada before being deported to Germany, where he served prison time.
  • 6th: Police allow open fighting between antifa and Patriot Prayer in Portland, Oregon.
  • 11th: On the eve of the “Unite the Right” rally, hundreds attend an unpermitted torch lit rally, led by Richard Spencer, on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville. Authorities do not try to stop the march. A small group of counter-protestors are attacked.
  • 12th:
    • The “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia is a turning point for the Alt Right. Organized by Jason Kessler, this rally is supposed to be the coming out party for the White Nationalist wing of the Alt Right. Many prominent movement figures are scheduled to speak, including Richard Spencer, Matthew Heimbach, Mike Enoch, Augustus Invictus, Baked Alaska, and Christopher Cantwell, as well as neoconfederate Michael Hill. Up to 1,000 people attempt to attend. However, police make no attempt to separate the rally participants and counter-protestors, and clashes break out which involve sticks, mace, and rocks as attendees try to enter the park where it is to be held. The chaos is added to by dozens of heavily armed and uniformed militia members who claim they are there as a neutral party. Shortly before the rally is set to begin at noon, police declare an unlawful assembly and disperse both sides. As they leave, a White rally participant (Richard Preston) pulls a gun out and shoots at the feet of a Black counter-protestor (Corey Long) who had turned a can of spray paint into a makeshift flamethrower. A splinter march of Far Right activists goes into the town, and is recorded beating a Black man (Deandre Harris) in a parking garage. After 1:30PM, two seperate anti-racist marches run into each other, and as they turn up a narrow street, a car crashes into the crowd at high-speed. Heather Heyer is killed and at least 19 others are injured. The car backs up and drives off, but is stopped and the driver, James Fields, Jr., who had marched with the Alt Right fascist group Vanguard America, is arrested. Only four people are arrested that day. Afterward a small number of arrests are slowly made, including planned rally speaker Christopher Cantwell; Preston; those who beat Harris (Jacob Scott Goodwin, Daniel Borden, and Alex Michael Ramos)—as well as Long and Harris.
    • Trump makes the first of several statements on Charlottesville, saying “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides—on many sides.” He does not condemn Far Right groups as such.
    • Starting on the eve of August 12 and continuing through the week, hundreds of rallies in the United States, as well as around the world, are held in solidarity with antifascists and antiracists at Charlottesville.
  • 13th:
    • Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler is chased from his press conference by an angry crowd.
    • A Patriot Prayer rally in Seattle, Washington is met by a thousand counter-protestors.
  • 14th:
    • Backtracking on his earlier statement, Trump says, “Racism is evil—and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
    • A Confederate memorial is toppled by protestors in Durham, North Carolina.
  • 15th:
    • Trump continues to change his statements about Charlottesville. He points his finger at the “Alt Left”—a non-existent group—for violence at Charlottesville. Trump says there were “fine people on both sides” but there is “blame on both sides.”
    • One of the editors of AltRight.com, Jason Jorjani, leaves the website.
  • 16th:
    • Heather Heyer’s memorial in Charlottesville, Virginia is broadcast live. Her mother, Susan Bro, asks for people to make her “death count.”
    • Cloudflare, a service which protects websites from denial of service attacks, terminates the Daily Stormer’s account after CEO Matthew Prince “woke up this morning in a bad mood and decided to kick them off the Internet.” This was just one of many online services which terminated services to White nationalists. Some platforms had taken steps to curtail White nationalist content even before Charlottesville. These included Twitter, Paypal, GoFundMe, Patreon, Soundcloud, Namecheap, and Google Ads. In the run up to Unite the Right, AirBnB cancelled reservations and Facebook took the event page down. Platforms that took action after Charlottesville include Squarespace, GoDaddy, Reddit, Spotify, Discord, SendGrid, Google, and others. Daily Stormer has ended up bouncing around the internet, looking for a URL. It has been hosted by—and removed from—businesses in Albania, Russia, Austria, Iceland, and Hong Kong. It is currently accessible on the dark web via a Tor browser.
    • Kyle Chapman is charged with felony possession of a weapon, which is his third felony charge in a Three Strikes state. In December he is arrested again while in possession of a potentially lethal weapon, in violation of his bail, which is then increased from $135,000 to $400,000.
    • Alt Lite figure Jack Posobiec cancels his nationwide “March on Google,” scheduled for August 19, which was to protest Google for firing James Damore. He was let go after circulating a misogynistic, anti-diversity internal memo.
    • ACLU of California breaks ranks with the national organization over its handling of the Charlottesville.
    • The anti-immigrant, White nationalist VDARE conference scheduled for April 2018 in Colorado Springs, Colorado is cancelled.
  • 17th: Noam Chomsky says antifa is a “major gift to the right.”
  • 18th:
    • Steve Bannon’s departure from the White House is announced.
    • Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler tweets that “Heather Heyer was a fat, disgusting Communist. Communists have killed 94 million. Looks like it was payback.” Kessler later claimed he was under the influence of Ambien, Xanax, and alcohol when he wrote the tweet. Richard Spencer says he will not work with Kessler after this.
  • 19th: A Boston Free Speech rally, organized by the Alt Lite, goes ahead despite criticism. It initially featured Augustus Invictus, who had been scheduled to speak at Charlottesville, although he is removed from the speaking list beforehand. Other speakers such as Gavin McInnes cancel. The rally is met by 40,000 counter-protestors.
  • 20th:  An America First! rally in Laguna Beach, California is met by 2,500 counter-protestors.
  • 22nd:
    • Trump’s appearance in Phoenix is met by a demonstration of thousands, which police use tear gas to break up. Trump denounces antifa in his speech, saying “You know, they show up in the helmets and the black masks, and they’ve got clubs and they’ve got everything—Antifa!”
    • ACT for America cancels a second round of nationwide Islamophobic rallies which were scheduled for September 9.
  • 25th:
    • Sebastian Gorka leaves the White House.
    • Trump pardons xenophobic former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.
    • On the fiftieth anniversary of his assassination, members of the New Order hold a public memorial for George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party, outside of the shopping center in Arlington, Virginia, where he was killed.
    • Gavin McInnes formally announces he is leaving Canadian Alt Lite website The Rebel. Co-founder Brian Lilley had left on August 14 after reporter Faith Goldy had sympathetically covered the Charlottesville demonstration and appeared on a podcast affiliated with the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer. Goldy is fired on August 18.
  • 26th:
    • A large counter-protest in Knoxville, Tennessee comes out against a pro-Confederate memorial rally.
    • Benjamin Davis, leader of the racist prison gang 211 Crew, is found dead in his prison cell. He was suspected of being involved with the 2013 murder of Tom Clements, who was head of the Colorado Department of Corrections.
    • The contentious Patriot Prayer “Freedom Rally San Francisco” is cancelled by organizer Joey Gibson the day before. Mayor Ed Lee, as well as Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had denounced it, and the ILWU held a port shutdown in protest.
  • 27th:
    • A number of Far Right activists attend the “March Against Marxism” in Berkeley, organized by Amber Cummings, despite the fact that she cancelled it and called on followers not to come. A large antiracist demonstration is there, including a black bloc. Far Right activists are chased away and scuffles break out; one man is beaten on film, although not seriously injured. Despite the minor nature of the conflict, many mainstream press outlets seize on this as an opportunity to denounce antifa, ending a short honeymoon period after Charlottesville.
    • Armed Patriot movement paramilitaries come to intimidate an anti-racist protest in Kansas City, Missouri for the third time.
    • Nathan Damigo leaves as head of Identity Evropa and is replaced by Eli Mosley. By December, Mosely is out and he is replaced by Patrick Casey.
  • 30:
    • Colbert, Oklahoma police chief Bart Alsbrook is revealed to be a longtime member of the Nazi skinhead group Blood and Honour, and has two neo-Nazi websites registered in his name: ISD Records and NS88 Videos. Alsbrook claims he is the victim of identity theft, but resigns as sheriff.
    • Thomas Rousseau splits from Vanguard America and forms the Patriot Front.
  • 31: Proud Boys hold an armed patrol in Texas after major flooding.


  • 1st: Politico breaks the story that FBI is investigating antifa as “domestic terrorists.” FBI director Christopher Wray confirms this at a November 30 Congressional hearing.
  • 5th: Trump calls for the end of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).
  • 10th: Patriot Prayer holds a demonstration in Vancouver, Washington; about one hundred attend, and are met by 300 counter-protestors. A car tries to run counter-protestors over; the driver is arrested but later released without charges.
  • 12th:
    • Kenneth Gleason, who is White, is arrested for the random murders of two Black men, Bruce Cofield and Donald Smart, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A Hitler speech is found in Gleason’s residence.
    • Congress passes a joint resolution urging Trump to “speak out against hate groups that espouse racism, extremism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and White supremacy.” Trump signs it two days later.
  • 13th: FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) releases an analysis of op-eds from six major newspapers after Charlottesville. It says, “Between August 12 and September 12, these papers ran 28 op-eds or editorials condemning the anti-fascist movement known as antifa, or calling on politicians to do so, and 27 condemning neo-Nazis and white supremacists, or calling on politicians—namely Donald Trump—to do so.”
  • 15th: Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro’s speech at Berkeley is met with counter-protests.
  • 16th: The Mother of All Rallies (MOAR) in Washington, DC is attended by militia and Alt Lite members and attracts up to 1,000 people—far less than the one million which organizers claimed would attend. A demonstration held nearby and at the same time by the Juggalos, protesting their designation as a “hybrid gang” by the FBI, draws many more participants.
  • 19th: Hope Not Hate, a UK group that monitors the Far Right and recently established a US branch, releases report The International Alternative Right, based on Patrik Hermansson’s year-long undercover work, which includes damning video recordings.
  • 20th: Augustus Invictus, who was slated to speak at the Charlottesville rally, is expelled from the American Guard. The group was formed by activists involved in Vinlanders, a Nazi skinhead gang, but tries to distance themselves from neo-Nazism.
  • 23rd: Milo Yiannopoulos’s much-hyped Berkeley “Free Speech Week” is cancelled.
  • 24th:
    • Alternative for Germany (AfD), a xenophobic Far Right party, takes 13 percent in the German elections.
    • Two dozen neo-Nazis, led by the Patriot Front, attempt to storm the Houston Anarchist Book Fair, but are prevented from entering.
  • 25th: After undercover video is released of him praising Adolf Hitler, Jason Jorjani is suspended from teaching at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, New Jersey.
  • 30th: The annual Stormfront gathering in Crossville, Tennessee fails to attract a large audience.


  • 5th: Buzzfeed reveals that Breitbart staff had been in direct contact with White Nationalists, who helped edit Milo Yiannopoulos’s article on the Alt Right—one of the movement’s breakthrough events.
  • 7th: Richard Spencer leads an unannounced, third torch lit rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
  • 11th:
    • A speech at Columbia University in New York City by British Islamophobe Tommy Robinson, delivered over Skype since he cannot get a visa to enter the United States, ends early after protestors disrupt it.
    • A lawsuit is filed on behalf of several counter-protestors at Charlottesville, including several who were injured, for conspiracy to violate their civil rights. White nationalist groups who attended the Charlottesville demonstration are named.
  • 12th: A lawsuit to prohibit paramilitary activities in Virginia is filed on behalf of the Charlottesville’s city government, plus some neighborhood associations and businesses. White nationalists who attended the rally, militia groups who pretended to be neutral peacekeepers, and armed left-wing groups who were present are all named.
  • 20th: Richard Spencer gives a speech at the University of Florida in Gainesville; he is heckled inside while a large demonstration takes place outside. Three of White nationalist attendees—Tyler Tenbrink, Will Fears, and Colton Fears—are arrested for their involvement in a shooting that occurs after the event.
  • 23rd: Military Times releases poll which finds that 25 percent of U.S. troops “have seen examples of white nationalism among their fellow service members.”
  • 27th:
    • Three members of the racist Aryan Brotherhood gang are sentenced for killing another member in 2011.
    • The video game Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is released; in it, players shoot Nazis in an alternate reality where they won WW2. Alt Right commentators had objected to it, and the game becomes the center of media attention as a work of political commentary.
  • 28th: A hundred people attend a “White Lives Matter” rally in Shelbyville, Tennessee held by the Nationalist Front; member groups the Traditionalist Worker Party, the League of the South, and the National Socialist Movement attend. They are opposed by 200 hundred counter-protesters. A rally in Murfreesboro later that same day is cancelled, but an interracial couple is assaulted afterward in Brentwood by rally participants.
  • 30th: Mike Cernovich speaks at Columbia University in New York City and is met by a large protest. Cernovich’s supporters plant a fake pro-NAMBLA banner in the crowd.


  • 1st: Carlos Moreno, Victor Vasquez, and Pamela Marques, who are all Latino, are shot and killed in a Walmart in Thornton, Colorado. The next day Scott Ostrem, who is White, is arrested. His neighbors said he was “very racist towards Hispanics.”
  • 2nd: Robert Mercer announces he will resign as co-CEO of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, which has $45 billion in assets. This came after it was revealed that Breitbart and Milo Yiannopoulos, who he was funding, were in direct contact with White nationalists.
  • 3rd: FOX News’ Tucker Carlson discusses the slogan “It’s Okay to be White,” which was created and popularized by White nationalists on 4chan. In December he retweeted a story from Red Ice, one of the main Alt Right media platforms. This is one of several instances in 2017 when Alt Right slogans and stories have made it directly into mainstream conservative media.
  • 4th: The day of the supposed “Antifa Civil War,” when it was alleged that antifascists were “planning to kill every single Trump voter, Conservative and gun owner.” However, no such event was ever scheduled. The November 4 rumor was the most popular of numerous hoaxes, fake news items, and fake social media accounts that Alt Right and other Far Right activists perpetrated all year.
    These included calls for two fake demonstrations (in Houston, Texas and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) which produced real right-wing “counter” demonstrations; numerous fake social media accounts pretending, with varying degrees of seriousness, to be real antifa accounts; fake flyers, one of which called for the murder of white children; a popular doctored photo supposedly of an antifa activist attacking a police officer; and Alex Jones’s claim that the sniper who killed 58 people at a concert in Las Vegas on October 1 had “antifa crap everywhere” in his hotel room. Some of the hoaxes were able to make their way into mainstream conservative news. For example, in July FOX host Jesse Watters interviewed a member of “Boston Antifa”—who was actually an Alt Right activist. In November FOX News reported on the civil war hoax as if it was a real story.
  • 10th: Jack Posobiec doxxes Leigh Corfman and encouraged his followers to harass her at work. Corfman has accused Alabama Senatorial candidate Roy Moore of trying to have sex with her when she was 14.
  • 11th: Independence Day march in Warsaw, Poland, which had become a Far Right event inclusive of fascist groups, draws 60,000. Banners include “Europe will be white” and “Pray for an Islamic Holocaust.” A counter-protest draws 5,000.
  • 12th: Steve Bannon addresses a ZOA (Zionist Organization of America) gathering in New York City. In the audience are Sebastian Gorka and Alt Lite figures Jack Posobiec and Laura Loomer.
  • 13th: FBI releases hate crimes statistics for 2016. They show a 4 percent increase generally, and a 19 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes specifically, from the year before. The report is widely criticized for undercounting the number of incidents.
  • 14th: Papa John’s Pizza denounces neo-Nazis in a tweet. The company had been declared the “official pizza of the alt-right” by the Daily Stormer after its CEO criticized protests by NFL players against racism.
  • 15th: Twitter bans Alt Right figure Baked Alaska, and removes verifications from Richard Spencer, Laura Loomer, Tommy Robinson, and Jason Kessler.
  • 17th: Neo-Nazi Brent Luyster is convicted of a triple murder in Washington state.
  • 18th: The Rally for the Republic, hosted by Resist Marxism, is held on the Boston Commons. It is attended by Alt Lite and Patriot movement activists and features Kyle Chapman. A thousand counter-protestors show up.
  • 19th: NPI’s conference is held at a wedding barn under false pretenses, after being cancelled by the Press Club in Washington, DC. The hosts force NPI attendees to leave halfway through when they find out its real purpose.
  • 20th: Buzzfeed reports on allegations of sexual assault against John Conyers Jr. (D-MI), a liberal congressional representative. The information had been fed to them by Mike Cernovich.
  • 22nd: It is announced that Richard Spencer is banned from Europe’s twenty-six country Schengen Area.
  • 25th: New York Times article “A Voice of Hate in America’s Heartland,” profiling a Traditionalist Worker Party member, is widely criticized for being overly sympathetic to fascists and normalizing their politics.
  • 27th: Jason Kessler files for a permit to hold a second rally in Charlottesville on August 11 and 12, 2018. On December 11 the city denies it, along with a number of other permit applications.
  • 28th:
    • Alt Lite figure Lucian Wintrich speaks at University of Connecticut under the White supremacist slogan, “It’s OK to be White.” He is arrested for assault for an incident during the event but his charges are later dropped.
    • Federal prosecutors in the trial of activists arrested at the Inauguration Day Black Bloc on January 20 (J20) introduce video from Project Veritas as evidence. Videos originating with Far Right paramilitaries the Oath Keepers had also been introduced. The trials, which are being conducted in small groups, started on November 15 and will run through 2018.
  • 29th: Trump retweets videos from the deputy leader of Britain First, a British Islamophobic party. UK Prime Minister Theresa May issues a condemnation.


  • 1st: An independent review of the handling of the Charlottesville demonstration is released, finding that the police actions were both inadequate and produced “disastrous results.” On December 18, Charlottesville police chief Alfred Thomas resigns.
  • 2nd: Richard Spencer’s new group, Operation Homeland, which includes former Identity Evropa leader Eli Mosley, hold a Washington, DC demonstration. They are joined by Matthew Heimbach and members of his group. They call for “Kate’s Wall” in the wake of the acquittal of a Mexican citizen for the murder of Kate Steinle in San Francisco.
  • 4th: The Supreme Court approves Trump’s revised “Muslim ban,” targeting travel to the United States from six Muslim-majority countries.
  • 5th: MSNBC fires contributor Sam Seder after Mike Cernovich popularized a satirical tweet Seder made in 2009 about Roman Polanski. MSNBC rehires Seder shortly thereafter.
  • 6th: Michael Wolfe receives a 15 year sentence for vandalizing and leaving bacon inside of a Titusville, Florida mosque.
  • 7th: William Edward Atchison kills two students, Francisco I. Fernandez and Casey J. Marquez, inside of a high school in Aztec New Mexico, before killing himself. He had been a poster on 4chan and Daily Stormer discussion boards.
  • 9th: A Patriot Prayer anti-immigrant rally in Portland, Oregon draws both Alt Lite and Alt Right activists. It is one of the last cities where this coalition of White nationalists and more moderate Trumpists are still taking the streets together.
  • 18th: After a public campaign by users to “Ban the Nazis,” Twitter starts a purge of accounts primarily  related to White nationalists, saying users “may not affiliate with organizations that—whether by their own statements or activity both on and off the platform—use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes.” Some accounts are suspended immediately, while others happen in the following week. They include the American Nazi Party, American Renaissance and Jared Taylor, the League of the South and Michael Hill, Occidental Dissent, Jeff Schoep of the National Socialist Movement, Vanguard American and affiliated accounts, the Traditionalist Worker Party, Generation Identity accounts, Keystone United, Proud Boys Magazine, Eli Mosley, Nordic Frontier, and Wife With a Purpose. Also suspended are Britain First and two leading members, Jayda Fransen and Paul Golding; Trump had retweeted videos from them, meaning these were now unviewable from his Twitter feed. Many prominent white nationalists, such as Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler, remain unaffected. Non-White nationalist suspensions include those associated with the Jewish Defense League and the New Black Panther Party.
  • 21st: First group of J20 defendants are acquitted of all charges stemming from protests during the Trump inauguration.
  • 23rd: Buckley and Scott Kuhn-Fricker are murdered in their Reston, Virginia home; Nicholas Giampa, 17, is arrested. He had been dating the Kuhn-Frickers’ daughter until they pushed her to break up with him after they found out Giampa was a neo-Nazi. On Twitterhe interacted with Alt Right fascist groups like Atomwaffen Division, Traditionalist Worker Party, and Vanguard America.
  • 31st: Michael Riehl was killed after a shootout with police in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, near Denver. One officer, Zach Parrish, was also killed, and six people were wounded. Rihel’s Facebook page includes a number of Pepe the Frog images and attacks on diversity.

Three Pillars of the Alt Right: White Nationalism, Antisemitism, and Misogyny

Photo credit: Karla Cote, August 11, 2017, Charlottesville, VA https://flic.kr/p/XuUyHe

The new wave of avowed White nationalists who have been energized by Donald Trump—most prominently the Alt Right—have held demonstrations across the United States, most famously in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017. Progressive activists have struggled to conceptualize and oppose the movement, and there have been a variety of different responses to it. However, some of these responses show a deep misunderstanding by progressives of what the Alt Right and other White nationalists believe. To misunderstand the multifaceted politics of fascism—and in particular, to ignore antisemitism—is to fail to comprehend the motivations and actions of the Alt Right and other White nationalists. It can also create a situation in which those who are targeted are left to fend off their would-be oppressors without solidarity.

The Alt Right can be understood as a Far Right style and approach, rather than having a single ideological position. It does have two wings, however: one is the so-called Alt Lite, which includes the open participation of people of color, Jews, and gay men, including in leadership roles. This includes figures like Jack Prosobiec, Laura Loomer, Baked Alaska, and Kyle Chapman (“Based Stickman”). They support Donald Trump and espouse a Patriotic ultra-nationalism, oppose immigration, demonize Muslims, and are hostile to the left. The other wing is the explicit White nationalists, who are driven by fascist ideology; they include Richard Spencer, Mike Enoch, and Andrew Anglin. They are like their Alt Lite relations, but also are open proponents of White nationalism. It is this fascist wing—who organized the 2017 demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia in August, and Pikeville and Shelbyville, Kentucky in April and October respectively—that will be addressed when the Alt Right is referred to here. (All of this is not to deny that there is a reciprocal interchange between these wings, particularly with Alt Lite figures frequently adopting White nationalist slogans and positions.)

There are three main themes the Alt Right organizes around: White nationalism, antisemitism, and misogyny, with lesser concentrations on Islamophobia, and opposition to LGBTQ people, and “Communists.” This range of targets should be no surprise; the German Nazi Party was no different in the 1930s and ‘40s. One of their first actions upon taking power was to smash the Communist and Socialist parties, as well as the trade unions; the organizations were banned and the leaders imprisoned. In addition to Jews, the Nazis murdered people who were disabled, Sinti and Roma, queer, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and certain prisoners of war. Slavs, Black folks, and others also faced repression and death to varying degrees.

White Nationalism

White nationalists live in a topsy-turvy world where they conceive of White people as being not only oppressed but as victims of a “genocide” that is in motion. For some of them, movements like Black Lives Matter—rather than being attempts at equality—are actually attempts to establish outright Black supremacy. In their view, it will elevate what they see as an already privileged group to an even higher level.

White nationalists assert that race is the central element in society that gives us our identity and a sense of belonging. But White nationalists go much further in their claims and political goals than the mainstream supporters of White supremacy as it exists today. Those in the mainstream deny the differences between how White people and people of color—especially Black folks—are treated in access to housing, equal police treatment, education, income, etc; and often support comparatively subtle techniques, such as voter suppression or removing funding for civil rights enforcement.

White nationalists in the U.S. have been advocating for pure White racial areas since the 1970s. This is where the rhetoric of “White separatism” arises, which differs from earlier forms of U.S. racism from the pre-Civil Rights era. For example, instead of slavery or Jim Crow segregation—where White people would remain in contact with Black people but exploit them economically and remain on a higher social level—the emphasis has shifted to having racially homogenous White communities, without contact with racial others. With the failure to uphold segregation, and coming under the influence of German Nazism, U.S. White nationalists came to see breaking up racial homogeneity as damaging to their interests.

This is why many White nationalists, including those in the Alt Right, want a White ethnostate, and not just a maintenance of the White supremacist status quo as it exists. This is, in fact, the “alternative” that the “Alt” Right seeks—it is opposed to the neoliberal conservatives who want to either maintain the racial status quo, or slowly make it worse for people of color through comparatively subtle techniques of political disempowerment. It is this goal of a White ethnostate that makes the Alt Right not just different than mainstream White supremacists—not just are their politics more aggressive, but they have a fundamentally different vision of the future.

The Alt Right’s opposition to immigration and, to a lesser extent, Islamophobia can be understood as subsets of these White nationalist views. The Alt Right does not oppose European immigration, even when illegal; and Islamophobia’s ostensible emphasis on religion is a way to avoid naming race, while clearly speaking about it.


A second, and too-often-overlooked, pillar of White nationalism is its reliance on antisemitic conspiracy theories, which frequently act as its central “theory.” These are constantly mutating, although they contain the same basic premises. Jews are seen as a cabal-like group who control the media, banks, and various international institutions. They use this fantastical power to undermine what White nationalists see as their racial interests. (Almost all White nationalists see Jews as non-White, regardless of whether they have European ancestry.) Kevin Macdonald, a former professor at California State University, Long Beach, is the main intellectual influence on the Alt Right in this aspect, and he has given an intellectual gloss to the more crude antisemitic theories.

The Jewish conspiracy is the explanatory mechanism for how Black Americans and Latinos in particular are defeating White nationalists, who see them as lazy and stupid. If they are inferior, how can they be winning? It is the Jewish conspiracy that is claimed to be working to destroy the White race through promoting immigration, civil rights for racial minorities, and globalization. Antisemitic conspiracy theories hold Jews responsible for creating and guiding the Civil Rights Movement for example. A newer permutation of this kind of antisemitic conspiracy theory is that “Cultural Marxism” is to blame for “political correctness” and movements for racial equality.

The Charlottesville rally itself had a strong antisemitic slant to it. Before the event, one of the schedule speakers, Traditionalist Worker Party leader Matthew Heimbach, said a Jewish conspiracy was behind the removal of the Confederate memorials. He opined that, “they want to be able to destroy knowledge of the past so they, the Jewish Power Structure, can try and control the future.”

At the infamous torch-lit rally on, August 11, the eve before the planned rally, marchers chanted “Jews will not replace us!” The next day, one very visible sign said, “The Jewish media is going down.” Calls had been made to burn a local synagogue down. The Washington Post said that White nationalist leader David Duke made an impromptu speech at the end of the gathering, saying:

“The truth is the American media, and the American political system, and the American Federal Reserve, is dominated by a tiny minority: the Jewish Zionist cause.” Addressing another group, Richard Spencer mocked Charlottesville’s Jewish mayor, Mike Signer. “Little Mayor Signer—‘See-ner’—how do you pronounce this little creep’s name?” Spencer asked. The crowd responded by chanting, “Jew, Jew, Jew.”

The antisemitism at the Charlottesville rally was discussed in the mainstream media—but, tellingly, not nearly as widely on the Left. Articles appeared, for example, in the Atlantic, the Washington Post, and the New Republic about the role of antisemitism—but in almost no more left-leaning publications. This, in turn, reflects a longstanding failure of the Left to recognize and confront issues of antisemitism.


The organized White supremacist movement has always been entangled with misogyny. Its vision of a racial hierarchy is intimately tied up with other social hierarchies.

This isn’t just one of a laundry list of social ills that White nationalists embrace, however; for the Alt Right, it is central. This is even more so than for past iterations of white supremacists; as Matthew Lyons points out in “Alt-right: More Misogynistic Than Many Neonazis,” the last generation of U.S. neonazis embraced a semi-feminism that “rejects the idea of male-female equality yet encourages women to become activists and leaders as well as wives and mothers.” But the Alt Right was energized when the Gamergate crowd (including Milo Yiannopoulos, then an editor at Breitbart) affixed itself to the more intellectual elements around Richard Spencer, Counter-Currents, and Arktos Press.

Lyons describes the Alt Right’s views in his Political Research Associates report Ctrl-Alt-Delete: The Origins and Ideology of the Alternative Right:

Going beyond traditionalist claims about the sanctity of the family and natural gender roles, Alt Rightists have embraced an intensely misogynistic ideology, portraying women as irrational, vindictive creatures who need and want men to rule over them and who should be stripped of any political role. The Traditionalist Youth Network claims that “women’s biological drives are contrary to the best interests of civilization and… the past century or so of women’s enfranchisement and liberation has been detrimental to societal stability.” But the group frames this position as relatively moderate because, unlike some rightists, they don’t believe “that women are central to the destruction of Western Civilization”—they are simply being manipulated by the Jews. The Daily Stormer has banned female contributors and called for limiting women’s roles in the movement, sparking criticism from women on the more old school White nationalist discussion site Stormfront. Far-right blogger Matt Forney asserts that “Trying to ‘appeal’ to women is an exercise in pointlessness…. it’s not that women should be unwelcome [in the Alt Right], it’s that they’re unimportant.”

Prior to Charlottesville, there was a discussion in Alt Right circles about if women could attend. (It was finally decided that they could, although they were encouraged to be in support positions, and only a small minority were in the crowd.) A number of attendees espoused the idea of “White sharia”—controversial in their own circles—which holds that in a future White ethnostate, men will be able to control women a super-restrictive manner. One video promoting the concept says:

Under ‘white sharia,’ our women will no longer be permitted to live their lives as sluts…. And you won’t have any career women invading your workplace either. Nope. Under ‘white sharia,’ our women won’t even be able to leave the home without being escorted by a male family member. And they definitely won’t be voting for liberal politicians anymore.

Anglin adds an antisemitic element, saying that, Basically, your only choice in this matter is whether you will choose WHITE SHARIA or Islamic Sharia. Because the Jews are obsessed with destroying the white race, they have weakened us internally to the point of collapse while emboldening and propping up the Islamic hordes.” At Charlottesville, the fascist crowd chanted “White sharia now.”

A Constellation of Other Toxic Views

Circling around their triadic emphasis on White nationalism, antisemitism, and misogyny are plenty of other noxious views held by the Alt Right and other White nationalists.


Islamophobia has been popular favorite, which has the added element of uniting a broad group of right-wing actors. It is a popular political issue for the Alt Right, which they use to mobilize their base and for publicity. However, underneath the surface, it lacks the theoretical centrality that antisemitism has—they are not using their Islamophobia to think through or guide their politics.

Islamophobia also creates some complex political interactions here that don’t lead to long-term collaboration in the right. Many core Islamophobic organizers claim Zionism, feminism, and pro-LGBTQ positions as part of their politics, conflicting with the views of many more traditional White nationalists.

Homophobia and Transphobia

Homophobic and transphobic sentiments are the norm rather than the exception on the fascist end of the Alt Right. At Charlottesville, fascists chanted repeatedly at anti-racist protestors, “Fuck you faggots!” (The reply chanted back was, “We’re here / we’re gay / we fucked the KKK.”)

This also has some complications. Fascism Today author Shane Burley said in an email, “The hardcore homophobia is actually kind of new for the Alt Right, it wasn’t an area of importance for quite a while. It essentially returned when the less academic voices in the Alt Right came back and the queer voices receded, like Jack Donovan.” For example at the 2016 National Policy Institute (then run by Richard Spencer) conference, the most pro-GLBTQ strain was on display. Donovan spoke, Heimbach was banned from attending due to his aggressive homophobic approach, and longtime White nationalist lawyer Sam Dickson made the amazing statement that “gay people” will be allowed in the new White ethnostate.


In addition to these views, to a lesser extent, the Alt Right has a fixation on anti-Communist conspiracy theories. These are classic conspiracy theories in which “Communists” are the agent of the global conspiracy. They have been revived as of late, with “antifa” often taking the place of the Soviet Union or Western Marxist parties as the agent of the conspiracy. As with other questions however, some Alt Right leaders have a more favorable view of Communist nations as they have existed in reality (which tended to be strongly nationalist) rather than how they portrayed themselves in the abstract. For example, Heimbach, among others, praises North Korea as an ethnostate that practices a national socialism.

Theoretical Challenges to Conceptualizing Progressive Resistance

These questions of how the Alt Right thinks—and who it targets—should be kept in mind when shaping resistance strategies. And it is of particular importance to progressive activists who believe that people of certain identities have obligations to oppose oppressive politics aimed at those who have different identities than their own.

First, the kind of White supremacy that the Alt Right and other White nationalists advocate is substantially different—and potentially far more dangerous—than the current daily grind of racism in U.S. society. White nationalists see the status quo as a problem, and desire a far more aggressive form—a program of genocide and expulsions—to be implemented. It creates new arguments, slogans, images, and conceptualizations that, even when out of power, seep into the mainstream. The Alt Right’s ability to influence the Trump administration is a shining example of this, with Trump adopting the style and positions of Alt Right groups, even though their actual members are not in positions of direct contact with him.

Second, fascists and other White nationalists are best countered by a unified opposition of people from different identities. The Civil Rights Movement involved both Black and White people. In this way, it practiced a unity of means and ends in what it sought to create in society—integration. This is in part, alongside sophisticated organizing and bold tactics, what made it inspiring and successful. The anti-racist counter-protestors at Charlottesville attempted to do the same; one chant was, “Strong, united, interracial crew / We have replaced you.” Countering the White nationalist vision of a racially monolithic society with an opposition that intentionally replicates its racial exclusivity seems bound to fail.

Third, as has been shown, most White nationalists seek to oppress not just people of color as such, but also Jews, Muslims, feminists, immigrants, LGBTQ people, leftists, and anti-racists of all racial identities. If the Alt Right is reduced singularly to the issue of race, this leaves all of these other targeted groups out in the cold. But for those who follow a politics guided by doing political work for people of identities different than their own, is it not the obligation of heterosexuals, non-Jews, and non-Muslims to stand up for Jews, Muslims, and queer people? Or do they have to stand up for themselves without solidarity?

Fascism targets a whole range of identities: it is a politics of full-spectrum oppression.

Fascism targets a whole range of identities: it is a politics of full-spectrum oppression. This political movement should not be opposed just because of the future of genocide which it seeks, the violence of the movement as it exists now, and its ability to drive moderate conservatives even further to the right. It deserves an intersectional resistance because our actions should be bound up in a principled and consistent opposition to the many different forms of hierarchy that fascism promotes.

White Warriors on the March

League of the South is an Alabama-based theocratic, neo-confederate group that has long advocated for southern secession.

Among the groups leading the recent Unite the Right march in Charlottesville, Virginia was the League of the South – an Alabama-based theocratic, neo-confederate group that has long advocated for southern secession. League leader Michael Hill was among the scheduled speakers for the planned rally to save a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from removal from a public park. While the rally was cancelled, the League’s presence was well documented by cameras and video. Amidst the televised brawls, some League members were strikingly visible, thanks in part to the white shields with black crosses they carried into the fray. Most notoriously, longtime Florida state chapter leader and League Chief of Staff, Michael Tubbs, a former Green Beret, was ID’d by the Southern Poverty Law Center, based on photos and videos, as on the scene when an African-American counter protester was viciously clubbed, apparently by League members.

Recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia and at the 2017 annual conference of the League of the South held in Wetumpka, Alabama in June, bear out PRA’s warning in 2014 that threats of violence from the League of the South need to be taken seriously. The League’s involvement in Charlottesville, and several other public struggles over the removal of Confederate monuments from public spaces, suggests that these will continue to be symbolic and actual battle grounds of choice – perhaps with escalating levels of violence.

We reported in 2014, that Hill had published an essay titled, “A Bazooka in Every Pot,” that advocated for the deployment of death squads featuring “three-to-five-man” units with a hair-raising mission: “The primary targets will not be enemy soldiers,” Hill wrote.  “Instead, they will be political leaders, members of the hostile media, cultural icons, bureaucrats, and other of the managerial elite without whom the engines of tyranny don’t run.”

Hill followed-up with another essay in which he calls on the young men of “Christendom” to become “citizen-soldiers” in the battles against the tyranny of our time.  He saw himself and his comrades as part of a long line of such men, invoking historic battles with Islamic armies going back to the Battle of Tours in the 8th century.  His role models for warriors for Christendom, however, are the White Westerners who fought against Black liberation movements in Southern Africa in the 1970s.  “So if Western men in past times were willing to fight for their civilization in remote areas of the world,” he asked, “shouldn’t we expect them to be just as willing to fight for that civilization here at its very heart—the South?”

League of the South is a political home for violent, would-be revolutionaries who intend to make their vision a reality.

Unsurprisingly, the League is a political home for violent, would-be revolutionaries who intend to make their vision a reality.  Michael Tubbs, for example, was arrested in 1989 with arms, explosives, and a hit list that included newspapers, television stations, and businesses owned by Jews and Blacks. He served four years in prison, but Hill and other league leaders nevertheless allowed Tubbs to stay on as a League leader in Florida, saying he’d “paid his debt to society.”

Hill and Tubbs formed a secret paramilitary unit in 2014. But by the League’s 2017 annual conference, Hill revealed that they are now openly forming an army. While it is unclear how far along they may be in creating a fighting force of any consequence, Hill spoke convincingly about his intentions in his speech titled, “The War Has Already Begun!”  In it, he declared that we are currently in a period of relative calm before the storm of a race war in the United States. He claimed, to applause, that over the past 40 years, “the number of black on white violent crimes and murders has been astronomical. There is a war against YOU, White men and White woman (sic) in the streets of our cities!”  (Unsurprisingly, keynote speaker David Duke, a longtime leader of far right, white supremacist factions sounded similar themes.)

Hill said that the current war has essentially been going on for two generations and it began with that “accursed thing called the Civil Rights Movement.”  He spoke nostalgically of a time when the South was “White man’s land” and of the need to take it back as a “righteous cause.”

He spoke nostalgically of a time when the South was “White man’s land” and of the need to take it back as a “righteous cause.”

He spoke of how White culture, “stretching back into the mist of antiquity, is that of a warrior.”  Being a warrior is a “calling,” he said, and he wanted the warriors at the conference to emulate confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson and his “favorite,” Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. The latter was, of course, a winking reference to the founder of the Ku Klux Klan, and was greeted with knowing laughter and appreciative applause.

He went on to speak of needing to learn to organize, and to train in the necessary skills for the war. To that end, he noted that the present war is not like traditional wars, but that the battlefield is “everywhere” and the enemy is legion and “does not necessarily wear a uniform, and sometimes you can tell the enemy because the skin he is wearing becomes his uniform.”

He insisted that after the Confederate flags and statues currently at issue, “when they finish with the stone and the fabrics… they are coming after you. Don’t ever doubt that.”  He characterized those who will come for them “as the children of the father of lies” and that his audience and allies beyond are the children of “the living God.”  He said that they are living in a biblically prophesized scenario in which God’s people fight it out to the end with the forces of Satan. But they will win.

He spoke openly about how the League has created a body he calls the Southern Defense Force, and that it will be not just a modern Confederate army but will actually be the “Army of the True Living God.”  In closing he offered-up what he calls an Old Testament vision of “destroying the enemies of our land, our people and of our God.”

Images from the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville continue to circulate social media, including this Twitter post showing League of the South founder Michael Hill assaulting another person.

If the League members on the scene in Charlottesville acted with a wanton aggression, it might be because Michael Hill has long been preparing them for battle with what he sees as “demonic” forces, particularly Black people. Tubbs is featured in cell phone videos taken at the scene of one of the bloodiest incidents of the mob violence at the march. The beating of a young African American and Charlottesville public school employee, Deandre Harris, according to the SPLC, was carried out by members of the Florida chapter of the League of which Tubbs is still chapter president.  “I was chased and beat with metal poles,” Harris wrote on Facebook. “I was knocked unconscious repeatedly. Every time I went to stand up I was knocked back down. If it was not for my friends that I came with I would have been beaten to a pulp.”

One does not have to believe that the small League of the South and their allies are capable of being the military arm of political secession, let alone an effective End Times Army of God, to recognize that they are intent on and capable, as we have seen in Charlottesville, of wreaking havoc in the furtherance of their perceived war with much of the rest of society.

A Guide to Who’s Coming to the Largest White Nationalist Rally in a Decade

A poster for Unite the Right combines imagery of Confederate flags and monuments, Pepe the Frog, as well as the Roman Eagle–reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

The Unite the Right rally, which will take place in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017, looks like it will be the largest White Nationalist rally in the United States in more than a decade. Between 500 and 1,000 people are expected to participate, while up to 4,000 counter-protestors may come.

While there have been numerous Far Right rallies since Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, this is the first major one that is led by fascists and other White Nationalists, which include Richard Spencer, Matthew Heimbach, Mike Enoch, and Michael Hill. It is also the third rally to be held in Charlottesville this year; the first one, in May, was marked by a torchlight rally at night, and was followed by a KKK march in July.

I have identified over thirty groups and prominent individuals who will be speaking at or attending the event, or have provided support for or endorsed it. This list includes Alt Right and Alt Lite members, neoconfederates, neonazis, racist pagans, Patriot movement paramilitaries, and even a European neonazi party. What follows is a scorecard of the Far Right groups that have announced they will attend the event, although undoubtedly many more will come.


Jason Kessler (Unity and Security for America)

Jason Kessler writes on Twitter, “#UniteTheRight opposes the demonization of white people & their history. We oppose the globalist plan to replace us w/ 3rd world immigration.”

As Unite the Right’s main organizer, Kessler has filed for the rally permits and has held several press conferences. He is the president of the Far Right group Unity and Security for America, and has written for the White nationalist anti-immigration VDARE website. He had written a Daily Caller story praising the May Charlottesville rally. However, after it was revealed that Kessler had also given a speech to the protestors the same day, the website suspended their relationship. Kessler promotes antisemitic and “White genocide” conspiracy theories, and supports calls for a White ethnostate.

On the Political Cesspool radio show, Kessler said about Unite the Right: “the number one thing is I want to destigmatize Pro-White advocacy…. I want a huge, huge crowd, and that’s what we’re going to have, to come out and support, not just the Lee Monument, but also white people in general, because it is our race which is under attack.”1


Richard Spencer (AltRight.com, National Policy Institute)
Spencer is the most visible Alt Right figure and is usually credited with coining the term. The leader of the intellectual wing of the movement, he has been pivotal in remaking the image of White nationalism. An advocate of “peaceful ethnic cleansing” and a White ethnostate, Spencer is influenced by European unorthodox fascist trends like the New Right and Identitarian movement. Despite being firmly on the fascist wing of the movement, his untraditional influences show, for example, in his toleration of openly gay and lesbian participants. In 2011 Spencer took over the National Policy Institute (NPI) think tank and has held several conferences in Washington. A supporter of Trump at the time, at the NPI conference before the inauguration Spencer gave a speech that ended with, “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” Audience members sieg-heiled in response. In 2017, Spencer founded a new website, AltRight.com, along with others including Jason Jorjani and Swedish fascist Daniel Friberg, both of whom work with Arktos press.

AltRight.com wrote about the rally, saying “People will talk about Charlottesville as a turning point. There will be a before Charlottesville and an after Charlottesville. Will you stand up for your history, your race and your way of life?”2

Matthew Heimbach (Traditionalist Worker Party)

Matthew Heimbach and his Traditionalist Worker Party have been promoting the event; he is depicted here during his time in the White Student Union he founded while attending Towson University. Photo: Flickr via cool revolution.

Heimbach has founded and led several groups in succession: a Youth for Western Civilization chapter and a White Students Union (both at Towson University in Maryland), and then the Traditionalist Youth Network and its outgrowth, the Traditionalist Worker Party. He is one of the three leaders of the racist umbrella group the Nationalist Front, and is a member of the neoconfederate League of the South. Now twenty-six, Heimbach was the bright young thing of the White Nationalist movement before the Alt Right, and despite his orientation towards more traditional neonazi and KKK groups, he portrays himself as a prominent figure in the Alt Right. He is a tireless networker, with links to groups like Greece’s neonazi Golden Dawn party, but is also a controversial figure. He had been feuding with Richard Spencer, but this apparently ended in April 2017 when Heimbach came to Alabama’s Auburn University to help protect a talk Spencer gave. In July 2017 Heimbach plead guilty to disorderly conduct for attacking a black woman at a March 2016 Trump campaign rally in Louisville, Kentucky.3

Mike Enoch (The Right Stuff)

Enoch (real name: Mike Peinovich) runs The Right Stuff, a podcast platform which includes the Daily Shoah show. The Right Stuff acts as middle-ground between the intellectual and juvenile trolling wings of the Alt Right. Enoch appeared with Nationalist Front groups at the April 2017 rally in Pikeville, Kentucky, and was at the May rally in Charlottesville. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas. Enoch is credited with popularizing the racist neologism “dindus” as well as the antisemitic “echoes” symbol (where three parentheses are placed around names of people thought to be Jewish). Vehemently antisemitic, when he was doxed in January 2017 it was revealed he lived in New York’s wealthy Upper East Side neighborhood—with his Jewish wife.4

Michael Hill (League of the South)

Hill is the founder and leader of the neoconfederate League of the South. A former professor, he has the led the group from having a base of support from pro-Southern academics into a racist group with paramilitary elements. Hill is also one of the three leaders of the Nationalist Front. He will be the only person speaking at Unite the Right with a PhD.5

Augustus Invictus (Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights, American Guard)

Invictus is a Florida lawyer who ran in the 2016 Libertarian Party primary for senate, hoping to take Marco Rubio’s seat. Invictus is a Thelemite (occultists in the tradition of Aleister Crowley), and the press has a had a field day with that fact that he admits to sacrificing a goat and drinking its blood. As a lawyer, Invictus defended Marcus Faella of the American Front, a Third Positionist skinhead group whose Florida chapter was arrested and charged with illegal paramilitary training; American Front members have hosted and attended Invictus’s talks in the Pacific Northwest. He has floated into Alt Right circles and, although he denies being a white supremacist, he is unusually open about his willingness to work with fascists. He is a member of the American Guard, a Midwest-based Alt Right group that accepts open White nationalists while claiming the group itself are “constitutional nationalists.” He also helped Based Stickman form the Fraternal Order of the Alt Knights—a group designed to engage in fights at demonstrations, and who are affiliated with the Proud Boys.6

Baked Alaska

Baked Alaska takes to Twitter to promote the rally.

Tim “Treadstone” Gionet, aka “Baked Alaska,” is a former Buzzfeed social media strategist who has moved towards antisemitism, Islamophobia, and White nationalism. He was Milo Yiannopoulos’s tour manager in 2016, but was uninvited to the Alt Lite “Deploraball”—held in Washington, DC the night before Trump’s inauguration—for his antisemitic tweets. Baked Alaska apologized, but has since attacked Alt Lite livestreamer Laura Loomer using blatant antisemitism, and now promotes White supremacist ideas such as “the 14 words” and “White genocide” on Twitter.7

Pax Dickinson

The most commercially successful of the crowd, Dickinson worked at Business Insider until his misogynistic tweets forced his departure. He later worked at Wesearchr, a Far Right funding platform. After a fallout there, he announced that he is starting Counter.Fund, a new Far Right crowdfunding site. However, the revelation that Peter Belau, the site’s “first High Council appointee” is Jewish, has caused neonazi stalwart Billy Roper to denounce the Unite the Right gathering.8

Christopher Cantwell

One of the minor league speakers tapped early on, Cantwell hosts the Radical Agenda podcast. He had worked with the Cop Block project, before he—like an number of Alt Right members—moved from libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism into the Alt Right and sympathy with fascists. In a recent interview, Cantwell said “let’s fucking gas the kikes and have a race war.”9

Johnny Monoxide

The least-known of the speakers, Monoxide (aka Johnny Ramondetta) is a White nationalist livestreamer who has run different podcasts. Living in Berkeley, California, Monoxide has livestreamed Identity Evropa events.10


Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas, Inc.

Led by Kyle Bristow, this Michigan-based legal non-profit was formed in 2016. He claims it is “quickly becoming the legal muscle behind the alt-right movement.” In April, Bristow successfully forced Auburn University to host Richard Spencer’s talk. More recently, Bristow has tried to block the Charlottesville city government from moving the location of Unite the Right out of a small park in the downtown area. The group’s board of directors include Alt Right activist Mike Enoch; William Johnson, the chairman of the White nationalist American Freedom Party; and James Edwards, who runs the White nationalist Political Cesspool radio show.11

Memes such as this one have been circulating social media in anticipation for the rally.


Daily Stormer

Founded by Andrew Anglin, by July 2016 the site, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “had become the most popular English-language website of the radical right, eclipsing the Stormfront site that had held that position since the early days of the Internet.” Daily Stormer (a pun on the 1930s German Nazi party newspaper Der Stürmer) is the most prominent representative of the openly neonazi wing of the Alt Right. In 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center said they have established thirty-one on-the-ground groups, called “book clubs.” Staffers Lee Rogers, “Azzmador,” “Zeiger,” and Ben Garland announced they are going to Unite the Right. Rogers writes, “Daily Stormer Book Clubs should do everything they can to get their people out to this event. All readers of the Daily Stormer should do the same.”

Another article Daily Stormer says, “this will clearly be an earth-shaking day that will go down in the history books. It can really only be explained as a perfect storm. That everything has been leading up to this. That our time has come. … It will be a monumental turning point in the progression of our movement. Everything will be different afterwards. … Next stop: Charlottesville, VA. Final stop: Auschwitz.”12

Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights (FOAK)

The “military wing of the Proud Boys,” this group was founded in April 2017 by Based Stickman, with help from Augustus Invictus. (Based Stickman was originally slated as appearing at the rally, but it does not appear that he will make an appearance.) On August 7 the FOAK announced that will be come to Unite the Right.13

Brad Griffin (Occidental Dissent)
Griffin’s Occidental Dissent blog has been heavily promoting Unite the Right. Griffin, who writes as “Hunter Wallace,” is a member of the neoconfederate League of the South. He also has been a board member of the Council of Conservative Citizens, the group who was the inspiration to Dylann Roof, the murderer of nine black worshippers at a Charleston, South Carolina church in 2015. Despite his neoconfederate views, Griffin has come around to supporting the Alt Right.

In July, Griffin wrote:I think Charlottesville has the potential to be a breakthrough moment in our activism. There is so much energy which has been bottled up online over the past 15 years that the dam is close to breaking. It is only a matter of time before it finally spills over into the real world and we are getting very close to that point.”14

Identity Dixie

A media outlet with a webpage and podcast called Rebel Yell. It was started by The Right Stuff in order to appeal to neoconfederates, and mixes confederate and Nazi imagery.15

Identity Evropa’s advertisement for the rally.

Identity Evropa

Founded in March 2016, Identity Evropa is one of two fascist Alt Right groups who are oriented toward recruiting men in their teens and early twenties. They copy European Identitarian politics and are known for sporting Richard Spencer-like “fashy” haircuts and recruiting on campuses. They have been present at many of the combative Far Right-organized street demonstrations since the inauguration. Their leader, Nathan Damigo, achieved internet notoriety for punching a counter-protestor at a Berkeley rally in April 2017. Damigo has previously led the Nationalist Youth Front, the youth branch of the White nationalist American Freedom Party. Identity Evropa also participated in the May 2017 Charlottesville rally.

Damigo plans to be at Unite the Right; he says the removal of Confederate monuments is part of a plan “to sever us from our identity so that we will have nothing left to gain strength and inspiration from to resist their mass colonization. Join us, and push back against the cultural Marxists their war on Whites.”16

League of the South

The League is a highly visible neoconfederate organization, and promote an explicitly White nationalist version of the Confederacy’s goal—southern secession. Founded in 1994, they have been able to attract thousands of members over the years, and have created paramilitary elements. Their current popular issue is their support for Confederate memorials and flags. In April 2017 they joined the Nationalist Front, and attended the Pikeville, Kentucky rally alongside the Traditionalist Worker Party, National Socialist Movement, and others.

The League’s founder and leader, Michael Hill, will speak at Unite the Right. The group says, “This is an event which seeks to unify the right-wing against a totalitarian Communist crackdown, to speak out against displacement level immigration policies in the United States and Europe, and to affirm the right of Southerners and White people to organize for their interests just like any other group is able to do, free of persecution.”17

National Socialist Movement

The NSM is the prominent U.S. neonazi party. After American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell was assassinated in 1967, some of his followers latter founded a group that eventually became the National Socialist Movement. Lead by Jeff Schoep, they came into prominence in 2004 and are known primarily for staging high-profile public rallies. This included a 2005 Toledo, Ohio march that ended in rioting. In April 2016 they helped found the racist umbrella group Aryan Nationalist Alliance (now the Nationalist Front), and Schoep is one the group’s three leaders. Attempting to mainstream itself in the atmosphere created by Trump, in November 2016 the National Socialist Movement removed the swastika from their flag, replacing it with an Odal rune. In April 2017 they attended a large rally in Pikeville, Kentucky, led by Heimbach. In July 2017, they announced they would come to Unite the Right, saying “This is a call to all NSM Members to be in Charlottesville, and show our support for White History and Heritage.” However, as of press time Schoep is not listed as a speaker.18

Nationalist Front
A national umbrella organization of various neonazi, fascist, Klan, and other groups. Founded in April 2016 as the Aryan Nationalist Alliance, soon after it changed its name and now has three leaders: Matthew Heimbach (Traditionalist Worker Party), Jeff Schoep (National Socialist Movement), and Michael Hill (League of the South). Heimbach and Hill are speaking and all three groups will attend the rally, along with Vanguard America, a new member group who are Alt Right neonazis. Especially with the addition of the National Socialist Movement, Unite the Right has gained the aura of being a Nationalist Front event.19

Stephen McNallen (Wotan Network)

McNallen is the founder of the Asatru Folk Assembly, a White nationalist Heathen group. (Heathens are pagans who worship the traditional Norse and Germanic gods; this religious tradition is favored by many White nationalists, although many other Heathens are anti-racist.) Recently McNallen has formed the openly White nationalist Wotan Network, which is focused on disseminating White nationalist Heathen memes. He said he wants his appearance at Unite the Right to have a large public impact.20

Patriot Movement and the Militias

The role of the Patriot movement and its paramilitaries—which have appeared at numerous other Trumpist street rallies—has been a hotly discussed topic on social media. In the end, the optics of the rally have become too neonazi looking for most to attend. However, there are some exceptions.

The American Freedom Keepers are mobilizing people to come. This group seems to be based in Portland, Oregon; its members have participated in different street actions. They are a split from another group, the Warriors for Freedom. At an ultra-nationalist demonstration in June 2017 in Portland Oregon, an American Freedom Keeper made the news after he was photographed assisting law enforcement in arresting a counter-demonstrator. 21 When contacted via their website, the group did not deny it was organizing its members to come.

The leader of the Pennsylvania Light Foot Militia has also said he will bring his group. He claims that they are “going to try to coordinate with law enforcement.”22

Additionally, the social media posts of various individual Patriot movement members, including III%ers and members of APIII%, have said they will attend.

Proud Boys
An Alt Right group founded by Gavin McInnes, who co-founded Vice media, but left in 2008. McInnes is deeply misogynistic and Islamophobic, and has called transgender people “gender niggers.” McInnes denies being a White supremacist, and the group describes itself as “western chauvinist.” The Proud Boys allow people of color, Jews and gay men in their group.

McInnes has contributed to White nationalist publications like American Renaissance and VDARE, used White nationalist rhetoric like “White genocide,” and has had White nationalist leaders on his show. White supremacists like Mike Enoch brag about how close the Proud Boys are to neonazism, going so far as to say that those who won’t become White Nationalists are “Jewish, they’re half-white, they’re mixed race or they have a non-White girlfriend of [sic] wife.”

The Proud Boys are an international organization that is explicitly violent; part of advancing in rank in their organization requires members to fight with their political opponents. They have been frequently seen at the clashes over the last six months. In April 2017 the formation of the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights was announced; it is described as the “military division of the Proud Boys.” Proud Boys in the Canadian armed forces were investigated after they disrupted a First Nations ceremony.

Originally the Proud Boys website ran an article denouncing “Unite the Right,” but it was taken down and replaced with one saying “if a chapter or an individual Proud Boy feels compelled to go, we encourage him to do so.”23

Red Elephants

A new Alt Right media platform known for their livestreaming. They have promoted the violent DIY Division, are alleged to have illegally livestreamed inside of a courtroom, and were part of a July pro-Trump provocation in downtown Berkeley. They have promoted Unite the Right and are fundraising to send members there.24

Traditionalist Worker Party

Led by Matthew Heimbach, the Traditionalist Worker Party is an outgrowth of his Traditionalist Youth Network. The group is both a predecessor to the Alt Right as well as a participant in it, despite Heimbach’s own orientation towards more traditional White Supremacist organizing. The group is a founding member of the Nationalist Front, and technically they are Third Positionist: they seek a separate White ethno-state and portray themselves as anti-capitalist. In April 2017 they organized a large rally in Pikeville, Kentucky, which was attended by the National Socialist Movement, the League of the South, Mike Enoch, and Vanguard America. Traditionalist Worker Party member Matt Parrot (who is Heimbach’s father-in-law), says the Traditionalist Worker Party will be “welcoming and supporting non-identitarian and non-White allies” at Unite the Right. Elsewhere he says:

“There’s this impression that Unite the Right is a White Nationalist event. This is false. Unite the Right is a broad unity event for every single faction of the right with the balls to stand and fight for our heritage against a nightmare swarm of Marxist degenerates. It just happens that only White Nationalists got the balls to hold the line when the media tries to divide and conquer.”

Meanwhile, in a video promoting Unite the Right, Heimbach claims a Jewish conspiracy is behind the removal of the Confederate memorials, because “they want to be able to destroy knowledge of the past so they, the Jewish Power Structure, can try and control the future.”25

Unity and Security for America

Founded by Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler, the goal of this group “is to defend Western Civilization including its history, culture and peoples while utterly dismantling Cultural Marxism.” In addition to limiting immigration (they want to require that “most immigrants come from Western nations”), Unity and Security for America advocate a strongly isolationist foreign policy.26

Vanguard America

An Alt Right neonazi group formed in 2016 and led by Dillon Irizarry, they focus on recruiting men in their teens and early twenties. They have been present at many of the street rallies and clashes this year, and have concentrated on campus-based recruiting. Originally named the American Vanguard, after participating in the April 2017 Pikeville, Kentucky rally, they joined the Nationalist Front.27

“Wife With a Purpose” ministry
Richard Spencer announced that the blogger Ayla Stewart, who runs “Wife With a Purpose” ministry, will be attending the rally. Her brand of openly White nationalist Mormonism has gained her over 30,000 Twitter followers and media notoriety.29


David Duke advertises the Unite the Right rally on his Twitter. The list of featured speakers includes many notable white nationalists and fascists.

American Renaissance

Jared Taylor leads American Renaissance, which is both a White nationalist publication and annual conference with an intellectual approach. Matthew Lyons describes it asone of the movement’s central institutions” which “pioneered a version of White nationalism that avoided antisemitism.” Taylor has been called the “father of the alt right” because of his promotion of the notion of “race realism.”

In June 2017, antiracist activists claimed Taylor attended a meeting with Kessler and others at a Charlottesville restaurant, where Taylor disguised himself in a wig and spoke in a fake French accent. While no Unite the Right speakers were on the official program of the July 2017 American Renaissance conference in Tennessee, shortly thereafter Taylor made a Periscope video promoting the rally. In it, he says the desire to remove Confederate monuments is an “attack an all Americans who think differently than the way we are obliged today” and was an attempt to destroy “White heritage.”30

David Duke

Since so many White nationalists who lead the 1980s and ‘90s movement have died, Duke is moving into a position as the movement’s preeminent elder statesman. Duke was a neonazi in the 1970s and later the founder and leader of the influential Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1980s. Part of the faction that wished to mainstream the Klan, he was elected as a Louisiana State Representative in 1989. Duke is promoting Unite the Right on his radio show and Twitter.31

Matthew Heimbach announced Golden Dawn’s endorsement of the rally on Facebook.

Golden Dawn

Matthew Heimbach announced on Facebook that Golden Dawn sent him a message to read at Unite the Right. This Greek neonazi party holds seventeen seats in the national parliament, and has chapters in the United States and other countries.32


1 A.C. Thompson, “A Few Things Got Left Out of The Daily Caller’s Report on Confederate Monument Rally,” ProPublica, May 31, 2017, https://www.propublica.org/article/things-got-left-out-of-the-daily-callers-report-confederate-monument-rally; Hatewatch Staff, “Dueling Alt-Right Rallies, Separated by Anti-Semitism, Face Off in DC Despite Calls to ‘Unite the Right’,” Southern Poverty Law Center, June 26, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/06/26/dueling-alt-right-rallies-separated-anti-semitism-face-dc-despite-calls-unite-right; “Jason Kessler tells white nationalist radio host that he hopes to destigmatize white nationalism with the Unite The Right rally…,” Restoring the Honor, July 31, 2017, http://restoringthehonor.blogspot.com/2017/07/jason-kessler-tells-white-nationalist_31.html.

2 “Richard Bertrand Spencer,” Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed August 7, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/richard-bertrand-spencer-0; Daniel Lombroso and Yoni Appelbaum, “‘Hail Trump!’: White Nationalists Salute the President Elect.” Atlantic, November 21, 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/11/richard-spencer-speech-npi/508379; Vincent Law, “The ‘Unite The Right’ Rally Is Going To Be A Turning Point For White Identity In America,” AltRight.com, August 5, 2017, https://altright.com/2017/08/05/the-unite-the-right-rally-is-going-to-be-a-turning-point-for-white-identity-in-america.
3 “Matthew Heimbach,” Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed August 7, 2017,
https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/matthew-heimbach; Lois Beckett, “Neo-Nazi pleads guilty after shoving black protester at Trump rally,” Guardian, July 19, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/19/matthew-heimbach-neo-nazi-trump-rally-guilty-plea; Vegas Tenold, “When the White Nationalists Came to Washington,” New Republic, January 23, 2017, https://newrepublic.com/article/140053/white-nationalists-came-washington; “Auburn, AL: Students Chase off Richard Spencer and Matthew Heimbach’s Alt-Right Trolls,” It’s Going Down, April 19, 2017, https://itsgoingdown.org/auburn-al-students-chase-off-richard-spencer-matthew-heimbachs-alt-right-trolls.

4 Matthew Sheffield, “The alt-right eats its own: Neo-Nazi podcaster ‘Mike Enoch’ quits after doxxers reveal his wife is Jewish Bad day for the Fourth Reich,” Salon, January 16, 2017, http://www.salon.com/2017/01/16/cat-fight-on-the-alt-right-neo-nazi-podcaster-mike-enoch-quits-after-doxxers-reveal-his-wife-is-jewish; “Michael ‘Enoch’ Peinovich,” Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed August 7, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/michael-“enoch”-peinovich.

5 “Michael Hill,” Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed August 7, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/michael-hill.

6 Shane Burley, “Imperium and the Sun: The Strange Case of Augustus Sol Invictus and the New Right,” Hampton Institute, January 11, 2016, http://www.hamptoninstitution.org/augustus-sol-invictus.html; Augustus Invictus, “On Left-Wing Terrorism & Right-Wing Counterterrorism,” The Revolutionary Conservative, April 25, 2017, http://therevolutionaryconservative.com/articles/2017-04-25-on-left-wing-terrorism-right-wing-counterterrorism; “Augustus Invictus Meet & Greet Report Back,” Rose City Antifa, March 5, 2016, http://rosecityantifa.org/articles/augustus-invictus-meet-greet-report-back; “The American Guard,” YouTube, posted by The Revolutionary Conservative on May 11, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CM35ZyGWHw.

7 Oliver Darcy, “The untold story of Baked Alaska, a rapper turned BuzzFeed personality turned alt-right troll,” Business Insider, April 30, 2017, http://www.businessinsider.com/who-is-baked-alaska-milo-mike-cernovich-alt-right-trump-2017-4; Taly Krupkin, “The Jewish Provocateur Caught in the Turf War as the ‘Alt-right’ Battles the ‘Alt-light’,” Haaretz, June 22, 2017, http://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-1.797372; Tim Gionet (@bakedalaska), Twitter post, May 7, 2017, https://twitter.com/bakedalaska/status/861399464271073280; Tim Gionet (@bakedalaska), Twitter post, June 28, 2017, https://twitter.com/bakedalaska/status/880239704758599680.

8 Nitasha Tiku, “Business Insider’s CTO Is Your New Tech Bro Nightmare,” Valleywag, September 9, 2013, http://valleywag.gawker.com/business-insider-ctos-is-your-new-tech-bro-nightmare-1280336916; Pax Dickinson, “A Gentle Introduction to Counter.Fund,” Medium, June 13, 2017, https://medium.com/@paxdickinson/a-gentle-introduction-to-counter-fund-bb0c9d6dd444; Jesse Singal, “The WeSearchr Meltdown Is a Reminder That Some Very Rich People Are Funding the Alt-Right,” New York (Select/All), May 16, 2017, http://nymag.com/selectall/2017/05/chuck-johnsons-wesearchr-is-having-a-bit-of-a-meltdown.html; Billy Roper, “UniteTheRight…with Jews?,” The Roper Report, July 2, 2017, https://theroperreportsite.wordpress.com/2017/07/02/unitetheright-with-jews; Peter B, “Introducing the Counter.Fund High Councilors: Peter Belau,” Medium, June 27, 2017, https://medium.com/@PissAndVinegar/introducing-the-counter-fund-high-councilors-peter-belau-b7ccf37fc060.

9 “Capitalists Against Cops: Cop Block, Christopher Cantwell, and the Libertarian Paradox,” Anti-Fascist News, December 15, 2015, https://antifascistnews.net/2015/12/15/capitalists-against-cops-cop-block-christopher-cantwell-and-the-libertarian-paradox; “Christopher Cantwell Claims He’s ‘Not Even a Hitlerite’ But Wants to ‘Gas’ the Jews,” Angry White Men, June 26, 2017, https://angrywhitemen.org/2017/06/26/christopher-cantwell-claims-hes-not-even-a-hitlerite-but-wants-to-gas-the-jews.

10 “Identity Evropa: Mapping the Alt-Right Cadre,” Northern California Anti-Racist Action (NoCARA), December 9, 2016, https://nocara.blackblogs.org/2016/12/09/identity-evropa-mapping-the-alt-right-cadre.

“John Ramondetta Exposed to Berkeley Community as Neo-Nazi Organizer,” Indybay, June 29, 2017, https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2017/06/29/18800525.php.

11 “Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas, Inc.,” GuideStar, accessed August 8, 2017, https://www.guidestar.org/profile/81-1969574; Chris Suarez, “Unite the Right rally sparks First Amendment questions,” Roanaoke Times, July 29, 2017, http://www.roanoke.com/news/virginia/unite-the-right-rally-sparks-first-amendment-questions/article_595b06b8-6d57-507f-9827-ff3419af8ff6.html; Bill Morlin, “Extremists’ ‘Unite the Right’ Rally: A Possible Historic Alt-Right Showcase?,” Southern Poverty Law Center, August 7, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/08/07/extremists-unite-right-rally-possible-historic-alt-right-showcase.

“Kyle Bristow,” Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed August 8, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/kyle-bristow; “FMI’s Board of Directors,” Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas, accessed August 7, 2017, http://www.freedomfront.org/board-of-directors; “Kyle Bristow: The Alt-Right Has Its Own Political Party That Will ‘Make America White’ Again,” Angry White Men, September 11, 2016, https://angrywhitemen.org/2016/09/11/kyle-bristow-the-alt-right-has-its-own-political-party-that-will-make-america-white-again; “Leadership,” American Freedom Party, accessed August 8, 2017, http://theamericanfreedomparty.us/leadership.

12 “Andrew Anglin,” Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed August 8, 2017,
https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/andrew-anglin; Lee Rogers, “Join Daily Stormer Staff at the ‘Unite the Right’ Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia!,” Daily Stormer, July 30, 2017, https://www.dailystormer.com/join-daily-stormer-staff-at-the-unite-the-right-rally-in-charlottesville-virginia; Keegan Hankes, “Eye of the Stormer,” Southern Poverty Law Center, February 9, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2017/eye-stormer; Benjamin Garland, “Charlottesville 2.0: Be There or Be Square,” Daily Stormer, August 5, 2017, https://www.dailystormer.com/charlottesville-2-0-be-there-or-be-square.

13 Tracie Chiles, Facebook post, August 7, 2017, https://www.facebook.com/events/137857813439031/permalink/163175937573885.

14 “Bradley Dean Griffin,” Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed August 8, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/bradley-dean-griffin; Hunter Wallace, “Unite The Right Rally,” Occidental Dissent, July 3, 2017, http://www.occidentaldissent.com/2017/07/03/unite-the-right-rally.

15 Hunter Wallace (@occdissent), Twitter post, July 30, 2017, https://twitter.com/occdissent/status/891727405840203777; Hatewatch Staff, “Neo-Confederates Breaking From The Right Stuff After Doxxing Scandal,” Southern Poverty Law Center, January 26, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/01/26/neo-confederates-breaking-right-stuff-after-doxxing-scandal.

16 Gabriel Joffe, “Identity Evropa and the Fraternity of White Supremacy,” Political Research Associates, June 15, 2017, https://www.politicalresearch.org/2017/06/15/identity-evropa-and-the-fraternity-of-white-supremacy; “White Nationalists Work to Make Inroads at U.S. Colleges,” Southern Poverty Law Center, February 15, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2017/white-nationalists-work-make-inroads-us-colleges; Vincent Law, “The ‘Unite The Right’ Rally Is Going To Be A Turning Point For White Identity In America,” AltRight.com, August 5, 2017, https://altright.com/2017/08/05/the-unite-the-right-rally-is-going-to-be-a-turning-point-for-white-identity-in-america; Nathan Damigo, Facebook post, July 18, 2017, https://www.facebook.com/nathan.damigo/photos/a.1002986733057881.1073741828.979683198721568/1478779288811954; Jason Kessler, “Richard Spencer Leads White Nationalist Demonstration In Front Of Virginia Robert E. Lee Monument,” Daily Caller, May 14, 2017, http://dailycaller.com/2017/05/14/richard-spencer-leads-pro-white-demonstration-in-front-of-virginia-robert-e-lee-monument.

17 “League of the South,” Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed August 8, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/league-south; Michael Hill, “League will be at Unite the Right rally, 12 August, Charlottesville, VA,” June 9, 2017, League of the South, http://leagueofthesouth.com/league-will-be-at-unite-the-right-rally-12-august-charlottesville-va.

18 “National Socialist Movement,” Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed August 8, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/national-socialist-movement; Rohan Smith, “America’s white supremacists ban swastika in bold attempt to ‘go mainstream’,” News.com.au, November 16, 2016, http://www.news.com.au/world/north-america/americas-white-supremacists-ban-swastika-in-bold-attempt-to-go-mainstream/news-story/53f68100ba52a1e33b13cf25b794d028; Sarah Viets, “Neo-Nazi Misfits Join Unite the Right,” Southern Poverty Law Center, July 26, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/07/26/neo-nazi-misfits-join-unite-right.

19 James King, “Rival White Supremacist Groups Unite To Fight ‘Race War’,” Vocativ, April 28, 2016, http://www.vocativ.com/313543/rival-white-supremacist-groups-unite-to-fight-race-war; Sarah Viets, “Nationalist Front Chumming up to Klan Members Once Again May 30, 2017,” Southern Poverty Law Center, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/05/30/nationalist-front-chumming-klan-members-once-again.

20 “Stephen McNallen and Racialist Asatru Part 1: Metagenetics and the South Africa Connection,” Circle Ansuz, August 19, 2013, https://circleansuz.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/stephen-mcnallen-part-one.

21 “Meet Warriors for Freedom: Racist Rage Revival Club,” Rose City Antifa, June 3, 2017, http://rosecityantifa.org/articles/warriors-for-freedom; Jason Wilson, “Member of Portland militia-style group helps police arrest anti-fascist protester,” Guardian, June 8, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/08/portland-alt-right-rally-militia-member-police-arrest.

22 “Exclusive: Commander of the PA Light Foot Militia, Christian Yingling, says they are gearing up to help maintain order with potential police support at Unite The Right rally…,” July 31, 2017 Restoring the Honor, http://restoringthehonor.blogspot.com/2017/07/exclusive-commander-of-pa-light-foot.html.

23 Gavin McInnes (@Gavin­_McInnes), Twitter post, June 26, 2017, https://twitter.com/Gavin_McInnes/status/879318997845626880; Gavin McInnes, “America in 2034,” American Renaissance, June 17, 2014, https://www.amren.com/news/2014/06/america-in-2034-7; “Gavin McInnes,” VDARE, accessed August 8, 2017, http://www.vdare.com/users/gavin-mcinnes; “Gavin McInnes’ ‘Alt-Right’ Fan Club Drifts Towards Neo-Nazi Violence,” May 18, 2017 Idavox, http://idavox.com/index.php/2017/05/18/gavin-mcinnes-alt-right-fan-club-drifts-towards-neo-nazi-violence; Taly Krupkin, “Meet the Proud Boys, the Chauvinists Providing ‘Security’ at a Right-wing Event Near You,” Haaretz, June 19, 2017, http://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-1.796302; Tom Porter, “Canadian Armed Forces Members Face Expulsion Over ‘Alt-Right’ Protest,” Newsweek, July 5, 2017, http://www.newsweek.com/canada-armed-forces-first-nations-proud-boys-alt-right-631936.; Based In Colorado, “Proud Boys Official Statement on the ‘Unite the Right’ Rally,” Proud Boy Magazine, June 2017, http://officialproudboys.com/news/gavin-mcinnes-virginia-unite-the-right-rally-disavowed.

24 “DIY Division: The Violent neo-Nazi Group Central to the California Alt-Right and Alt-Light Protest Movements,” Northern California Anti-Racist Action (NoCARA), July 6, 2017, https://nocara.blackblogs.org/2017/07/06/diy-division; “Meet the Bay Area’s 4chan Kangaroo Court,” June 5, 2017, Northern California Anti-Racist Action (NoCARA), https://nocara.blackblogs.org/2017/06/05/meet-the-bay-areas-4chan-kangaroo-court; Natalie Orenstein, “Trump supporters’ ‘experiment’ meant to provoke Berkeleyans on Saturday,” Berkeleyside, July 10, 2017, http://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/07/10/trump-supporters-experiment-meant-provoke-berkeleyans-saturday; Vincent James, “‘Unite The Right’ Rally Set To Take Place Next Month,” The Red Elephants, July 2017, http://theredelephants.com/unite-right-rally-set-take-place-next-month; “Support the Red Elephants,” Back the Right, July 14, 2017, https://www.backtheright.com/campaign/18/support-the-red-elephants

25 Matt Parrott, Facebook, August 1, 2017, https://www.facebook.com/parrott.matt/posts/10154801841131918; Matt Parrott, “Proud Boys Are Cordially Invited to Unite The Right,” TradYouth, June 2017,
http://www.tradyouth.org/2017/06/proudboys-are-cordially-invited-to-unite-the-right; “Unite The Right! August 12 – Charlottesville, VA at Lee Park” (video), YouTube, posted by Traditionalist Worker Party on July 8, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8i19GxzCcm4; around 2:50.

26 Unity and Security for America, Facebook post, January 29, 2017, https://www.facebook.com/UniSecAmerica/posts/781161652035898; “We Are Unity and Security for America,” Unity and Security for America, accessed August 8, 2017, http://www.unityandsecurity.org/protect-the-west.html.

27 “White Nationalists Work to Make Inroads at U.S. Colleges,” Southern Poverty Law Center, February 15, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2017/white-nationalists-work-make-inroads-us-colleges; “Vanguard America,” Anti-Defamation League, accessed August 8, 2017, https://www.adl.org/education/resources/backgrounders/vanguard-america; “Unite The Right! August 12 – Charlottesville, VA at Lee Park” (video), YouTube, posted by Traditionalist Worker Party on July 8, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8i19GxzCcm4; around 4:28.

29 Richard Spencer (@RichardBSpencer), Twitter post, June 24, 2017, https://twitter.com/RichardBSpencer/status/878713947339321347; Wife With A Purpose (@apurposefulwife), Twitter post, accessed August 8, 2017; Jim Dalrymple II, “Meet The (Alt-Right) Mormons: Inside The Church’s Vocal White Nationalist Wing,” BuzzFeed News, March 27, 2017, https://www.buzzfeed.com/jimdalrympleii/meet-the-alt-right-mormons-inside-the-churchs-vocal-white; Joshua Rhett Miller, “This young mom is the face of Mormonism’s hateful alt-right,” New York Post, March 31, 2017, http://nypost.com/2017/03/31/this-young-mom-is-the-face-of-mormonisms-hateful-alt-right.

30 Matthew N. Lyons, “Ctrl-Alt-Delete: The origins and ideology of the Alternative Right,” Political Research Associates, January 20, 2017, https://www.politicalresearch.org/2017/01/20/ctrl-alt-delete-report-on-the-alternative-right; “Jared Taylor,” Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed August 7, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/jared-taylor; “Ivy-League Racist Jared Taylor Disguised as Frenchman: Clandestinement dans Charlottesville,” It’s Going Down, June 6, 2017, https://itsgoingdown.org/ivy-league-racist-jared-taylor-disguised-as-frenchman-clandestinement-dans-charlottesville; Hatewatch Staff, “Infinite DramaQuest 2.0: American Renaissance Edition,” Southern Poverty Law Center, July 27, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/07/27/infinite-dramaquest-20-american-renaissance-edition; “Defense of Southern heritage is defense of American heritage. #UniteTheRight,” Perioscope, August 4, 2017, https://www.pscp.tv/AmRenaissance/1eaKbmynnYexX; see around 4:00.

31 “David Duke,” Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed August 8, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/david-duke; “David Duke urges followers to attend rally in Charlottesville,” Daily Progress, July 6, 2017, http://www.richmond.com/news/virginia/david-duke-urges-followers-to-attend-rally-in-charlottesville/article_4f25085a-da7f-5449-bf7f-ca091f59a5b3.html;

32 It’s Going Down News (@IGD_News), Twitter post, August 6, 2017, https://twitter.com/IGD_News/status/894284361133989888.

Skin in the Game: How Antisemitism Animates White Nationalism

This article appears in the Summer 2017 edition of The Public Eye magazine.

One September weekend in 1995, a few thousand people met at a convention center in Seattle to prepare for an apocalyptic standoff with the federal government. At the expo, you could sign up to defend yourself from the coming “political and economic collapse,” stock up on beef jerky, learn strategies for tax evasion, and browse titles by writers like Eustace Mullins, whose White nationalist classics include The Secrets of the Federal Reserve, published in 1952, and—from 1967—The Biological Jew.

The sixth annual Preparedness Expo made national papers that year because it served as a clearinghouse for the militia movement, a decentralized right-wing movement of armed, local, anti-government paramilitaries that had recently sparked its most notorious act of terror, the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal courthouse by White nationalists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. A series of speakers told expo attendees the real story: the attack had been perpetrated by the government itself as an excuse to take citizens’ guns away.

Not a lot of Black folks show up at gatherings like the Preparedness Expo, one site in an extensive right-wing counterculture in which White nationalism is a constant, explosive presence. White nationalists argue that Whites are a biologically defined people and that, once the White revolutionary spirit awakens, they will take down the federal government, remove people of color, and build a state (maybe or maybe not still called the United States of America, depending on who you ask) of their own. As a Black man, I am regarded by White nationalists as a subhuman, dangerous beast. In the 1990s, I was the field organizer for the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment, a six-state coalition working to reduce hate crimes and violence in the Pacific Northwest and Mountain States region. We did a lot of primary research, often undercover. A cardinal rule of organizing is that you can’t ask people to do anything you haven’t done yourself; so I spent that weekend as I spent many—among people plotting to remove me from their ethnostate.

It helped that, despite its blood-curdling anti-Black racism, at least some factions of the White nationalist movement saw me as a potential ally against their true archenemy. At the expo that year, a guy warily asked me about myself. I told him that I had come on behalf of a few brothers in the city. We needed to resist the federal government and we were there to get educated. I said I hoped he wouldn’t take it personally, but I didn’t shake hands with White people. He smiled; he totally understood. “Brother McLamb,” he concurred, “says we have to start building broad coalitions.” Together we went to hear Jack McLamb, a retired Phoenix cop who ran an organization called Police Against the New World Order, make a case for temporary alliances with “the Blacks, the Mexicans, the Orientals” against the real enemy, the federal government controlled by an international conspiracy. He didn’t have to say who ran this conspiracy because it was obvious to all in attendance. And despite the widespread tendency to dismiss antisemitism, notwithstanding its daily presence across the country and the world, it is obvious to you, too.

The bombing of the Oklahoma City federal courthouse by White nationalists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols was painted as a conspiracy by the government itself as an excuse to take citizens’ guns away.

From the time I documented my first White nationalist rally in 1990 until today, the movement has made its way from the margins of American political life to its center, and I’ve moved from doing antiracist organizing in small northwestern communities to fighting for inclusive democracy on a national level, as the Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Justice program officer at the Ford Foundation until recently, and now as a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center. Yet if I had to give a basic definition of the movement—something I’ve often been asked to do, formally and informally, by folks who’ve spent less time hanging out with Nazis than I have—my response today would not be much different than it was when I began to do this work nearly thirty years ago. American White nationalism, which emerged in the wake of the 1960s civil rights struggle and descends from White supremacism, is a revolutionary social movement committed to building a Whites-only nation, and antisemitism forms its theoretical core.

That last part—antisemitism forms the theoretical core of White nationalism— bears repeating. Let me explain.

Antisemitism forms the theoretical core of White nationalism.

The meteoric rise of White nationalism within national discourse over the course of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and freshman administration—through Trump’s barely coded speech at fascist-style rallies, his support from the internet-based “Alt Right,” and his placement of White nationalist popularizers in top positions—has produced a shock of revelation for people across a wide swath of the political spectrum. This shock, in turn, has been a source of frustration within communities of color and leftist circles, where White liberals are often accused of having kept their heads in the sand while more vulnerable populations sounded the alarm about the toll of economic crisis, mass incarceration, police violence, deportation, environmental devastation, and—despite and in reaction to the election of Barack Obama—the unending blare of everyday hate. This is an understandable reaction. It’s one I’ve often shared. But the fact that many of us have long recognized that the country we live in is not the one we are told exists doesn’t mean we always understand the one that does. Within social and economic justice movements committed to equality, we have not yet collectively come to terms with the centrality of antisemitism to White nationalist ideology, and until we do we will fail to understand this virulent form of racism rapidly growing in the U.S. today.

To recognize that antisemitism is not a sideshow to racism within White nationalist thought is important for at least two reasons. First, it allows us to identify the fuel that White nationalist ideology uses to power its anti-Black racism, its contempt for other people of color, and its xenophobia—as well as the misogyny and other forms of hatred it holds dear. White nationalists in the United States perceive the country as having plunged into unending crisis since the social ruptures of the 1960s supposedly dispossessed White people of their very nation. The successes of the civil rights movement created a terrible problem for White supremacist ideology. White supremacism—inscribed de jure by the Jim Crow regime and upheld de facto outside the South—had been the law of the land, and a Black-led social movement had toppled the political regime that supported it. How could a race of inferiors have unseated this power structure through organizing alone? For that matter, how could feminists and LGBTQ people have upended traditional gender relations, leftists mounted a challenge to global capitalism, Muslims won billions of converts to Islam? How do you explain the boundary-crossing allure of hip hop? The election of a Black president? Some secret cabal, some mythological power, must be manipulating the social order behind the scenes. This diabolical evil must control television, banking, entertainment, education, and even Washington, D.C. It must be brainwashing White people, rendering them racially unconscious.

“The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion,” first circulated by Czarist secret police in Russia in 1903, established the blueprint of antisemitic ideology in its modern form.

What is this arch-nemesis of the White race, whose machinations have prevented the natural and inevitable imposition of white supremacy? It is, of course, the Jews. Jews function for today’s White nationalists as they often have for antisemites through the centuries: as the demons stirring an otherwise changing and heterogeneous pot of lesser evils. At the turn of the twentieth century, “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion”—a forgery, first circulated by Czarist secret police in Russia in 1903, that purports to represent the minutes of a meeting of the international Jewish conspiracy—established the blueprint of antisemitic ideology in its modern form. It did this by recasting the shape-shifting, money-grubbing caricature of the Jew from a religious caricature to a racialized one. Upper-class Jews in Europe might have been assimilating and changing their names, but under the new regime of antisemitic thought, even a Jew who converted to Christianity would still be a Jew.

In 1920, Henry Ford brought the “Protocols” to the United States, printing half a million copies of an adaptation called “The International Jew,” and the text has had a presence in American life ever since. (Walmart stocked copies on its shelves and for a time refused calls to take them down—in 2004.) But it is over the past fifty years, not coincidentally the first period in U.S. history in which most American Jews have regarded themselves as White, that antisemitism has become integral to the architecture of American racism. Because modern antisemitic ideology traffics in fantasies of invisible power, it thrives precisely when its target would seem to be least vulnerable. Thus, in places where Jews were most assimilated—France at the time of the Dreyfus affair, Germany before Hitler came to power—they have functioned as a magic bullet to account for unaccountable contradictions at moments of national crisis. White supremacism through the collapse of Jim Crow was a conservative movement centered on a state-sanctioned anti-Blackness that sought to maintain a racist status quo. The White nationalist movement that evolved from it in the 1970s was a revolutionary movement that saw itself as the vanguard of a new, whites-only state. This latter movement, then and now, positions Jews as the absolute other, the driving force of white dispossession—which means the other channels of its hatred cannot be intercepted without directly taking on antisemitism.

This brings me to the second reason that White nationalist antisemitism must not be dismissed: at the bedrock of the movement is an explicit claim that Jews are a race of their own, and that their ostensible position as White folks in the U.S. represents the greatest trick the devil ever played. The bible for generations of White nationalists is The Turner Diaries, a 1978 dystopian novel by the White supremacist leader William Pierce, published under the pseudonym Andrew Macdonald. The novel takes place in a near-future in which Jews have unleashed Blacks and other undesirables into the center of American public life, and follows the triumph of a clandestine White supremacist organization that snaps into revolutionary action, blowing up both Israel and New York City. Its narrator, a soldier in the White revolutionary army, insists that “trying to distinguish the ‘good’ Jews from the bad ones” is as absurd as the way “some of our thicker-skulled ‘good ol’ boys’ still insist on trying, separating the ‘good niggers’ from the rest of their race.” Contemporary antisemitism, then, does not just enable racism, it also is racism, for in the White nationalist imaginary Jews are a race—the race—that presents an existential threat to Whiteness. Moreover, if antisemitism exists in glaring form at the extreme edge of political discourse, it does not exist in a vacuum; as with every form of hateful ideology, what is explicit on the margins is implicit in the center, in ways we have not yet begun to unpack. This means the notion that Jews long ago and uncontestably became White folks in the U.S.—became, in effect, post-racial—is a myth that we must dispel.

Antisemitism, I discovered, is a particular and potent form of racism so central to White supremacy that Black people would not win our freedom without tearing it down.

I’ve been terrorized by structural racism and White nationalist activism all my life. Contrary to a popular image of White nationalists living exclusively off the grid, far from people of color—who are imagined to live exclusively on it—White nationalists are our neighbors. As a kid in Southern California and as a young adult in Oregon, deep in a West Coast punk scene that in some ways looked a lot like the U.S. in 2017, they were literally mine. Because I grew up Black in a city and a scene where people of color were under attack by White nationalists, the immediacy of the movement’s threat and its hatred of dark-skinned people like my family and friends is something I have always known. I thought I understood what motivated them, and I thought their motivation always looked like me. What I learned when I got to Oregon, as I began to log untold hours trying to understand White nationalists and their ideas, was that antisemitism was the lynchpin of the White nationalist belief system. That within this ideological matrix, Jews—despite and indeed because of the fact that they often read as White—are a different, unassimilable, enemy race that must be exposed, defeated, and ultimately eliminated. Antisemitism, I discovered, is a particular and potent form of racism so central to White supremacy that Black people would not win our freedom without tearing it down.

. . .

Long Beach, California is planted on the line that locals call the Orange Curtain, the border between the working-class and immigrant neighborhoods of southern Los Angeles County and the White conservative suburbs of Orange County. By the time my mom and I moved down from L.A. in 1976, when I was in sixth grade, this endless sprawl of White flight was increasingly interrupted by people of color looking for affordable housing in safe neighborhoods. The civil rights and radical social movements of the 1960s and early Seventies had already been smashed by the state or self-destructed. White nationalism, on the other hand, was part of the scenery. Just down the street from one of our Long Beach apartments was an outpost of the John Birch Society, the foremost right-wing anticommunist organization during the Cold War—now having a Trump-era revival—which officially disavowed White supremacism and antisemitism but fought the civil rights movement and described the communist menace as an international cabal.

I was bussed to school in middle-class suburbs through the fanciest neighborhoods I’d ever seen, where White people rolled down their car windows to call us monkeys or tell us to go back to Africa. At school, White kids initialed SWP on their desks: Supreme White Power. One of our local celebrities was Wally George, a public access television star whose show, “The Hot Seat,” was a forerunner to the hate radio of shock jocks like Rush Limbaugh and Tucker Carson. As teenagers we’d get stoned and watch his show for laughs. But there was fear, too, beneath the laughter. Neonazis, a kid on the bus told us one morning, were marching in a nearby park. I’ve avoided that park to this day.

(Photo courtesy of the author).

The L.A. punk scene of the late 1970s brought me into constant, unavoidable contact with proto-White nationalist youth. The scene was utopian and dystopian, thrilling and violent, gave me friends for life—Black, White, and Filipino, U.S.-born and undocumented—and killed some of them. The scene attracted the brightest minds and the burgeoning sociopaths from across lines of race and class. Chaos broke out at shows and kids formed gangs. There were racist and antiracist skinheads. Someone wearing a swastika armband might be a neonazi or might just be fucking around. The cops stationed outside shows terrorized everyone present. We didn’t expect to make it far into adulthood and we had fun, until the war on drugs intensified and we knew it was a war on us.

When I was twenty-one, working minimum-wage jobs and playing in a garage band called Sloppy 2nds, some friends announced they’d be starting college at the University of Oregon and asked me to come with them. When I imagined anything north of San Francisco and south of Seattle, all I conjured were endless stands of trees. I said no. But working one night shift, pumping gas at the Union 76 station, the Specials song “Do Nothing” came on—“Nothing ever change, oh no/Nothing ever change”—and I knew that if I didn’t leave southern California I would die soon. So I moved with a multiracial group of L.A. punks to the remote college town of Eugene, Oregon and we bunkered down in a house we called Camp Iceberg because we never turned on the heat. Sloppy 2nds disbanded and when it later reformed without me, it became Sublime, the most famous Long Beach band of all time.

(Photos courtesy of the author).

White liberals have long imagined Oregon as a kind of haven. Portland has now largely replaced San Francisco as the destination of choice for White youth with West Coast dreams of alternative living. But it is also where the White liberal imagination becomes a libertarian one: implicitly, it imagines a place free of people of color and therefore pregnant with the possibility of social harmony. But Oregon’s Whiteness—and, particularly, its non-Blackness—was the product of deliberate, violent exclusion; founded by White supremacists before the Civil War, by the 1920s the state boasted the largest Klan membership west of the Mississippi. Klan campaigns often chose Catholics as their immediate targets, because Blacks were not allowed to reside in Oregon until 1926.

The White nationalist movement that emerged in the last decades of the twentieth century grew across the country. But it was Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming that neonazis in the 1980s carved out as the territorial boundaries of their future Whites-only state, a region that self-identified “Aryans” from around the country began to colonize with nothing short of White national sovereignty as their goal. “Ourselves alone willing,” declared White nationalist leader and Aryan Nations organizer Robert Miles, “we shall begin to form the new nation even while in the suffocating embrace of the ZOG.” In White nationalist parlance, the United States is the ZOG, or Zionist Occupied Government. It was in the Northwest that the nascent militia movement—notorious in the 1990s after standoffs between White nationalist compounds and the FBI in Ruby Ridge, Idaho and Waco, Texas—declared war on their country loudly enough they could no longer be ignored.

Ironically, then, if I had moved to Oregon to get away from the unpromising life expectancy for a Black male punk in southern California, the people who had decimated urban life in my home state had gotten there first. In 1978, California’s White conservative voters passed the infamous Proposition 13, which cut taxes and slashed social services, turning the state into a laboratory for the Reagan revolution. Poverty and drug crime increased, and the same White folks who had gutted Californian cities in their flight to the suburbs after World War II now fled up the coast. I arrived in liberal Eugene in 1986, walked into workplace after workplace, and despite my resume, my smile, and my charm—funny, but no one was hiring. I didn’t understand Oregon yet; I thought it was just me.

Meanwhile, the growing clashes between racist and antiracist skinheads in the punk scene that had made life in Long Beach dangerous were a fact of life in Oregon as well, and often took place beyond the reach of the law. As part of their nation-building project in the Pacific Northwest, White supremacists were establishing their own common law courts, their own religions, and their own paramilitaries. They attacked and sometimes killed cops, and the local authorities, cowed, turned a blind eye. So when gangs of neonazi punks terrorized people of color and other vulnerable groups in Portland, it was coalitions of the communities under attack that struck back and eventually beat them off the streets.

I began to fight white nationalism because my world, my scene, my friends, and my music were under neonazi attack.

In the end, I began to fight white nationalism because my world, my scene, my friends, and my music were under neonazi attack. The great postpunk band Fugazi was on a national tour, and an unwanted audience of neonazis had begun turning up at their shows. Fugazi would stop playing, give the neonazis five dollars, and refuse to start up again until they left. A venue in Eugene cancelled a scheduled appearance when rumors spread that skinheads were planning to disrupt the show, and the community erupted in anger. By that time, I was a student and an activist. I had stumbled into student of color politics while attending community college and now co-directed the Black Student Union and Students Against Apartheid at the University of Oregon. I spent a semester in France and while I was away, a 28-year-old Ethiopian international student named Mulugeta Seraw was beaten to death by White supremacists on a Portland street. I returned to a community deeply shaken and in mourning. But it was in the wake of the cancelled show that I founded an organization, Communities Against Hate, in the way these things often happen: no one else wanted to do it. We created a zine called The Race Mixer (“Miscegenation At Its Finest”), reporting on the activity of hate groups in the Northwest; during the standoff at Ruby Ridge, we stood outside the Portland City Hall dressed as Klan members to warn against the spread of the militia movement. Two years later, in Eugene, Communities Against Hate got Fugazi to come back and play.

. . .

The Turner Diaries, a 1978 dystopian novel by the White supremacist leader William Pierce, takes place in a near-future in which Jews have unleashed Blacks and other undesirables into the center of American public life.

When folks ask me, skeptically, where the antisemitism in the White nationalist movement lies, it can feel like being asked to point out a large elephant in a small room. From the outset of my research on White nationalism all those years ago, it was clear that antisemitism in the movement is everywhere, and it is not hidden. “Life is uglier and uglier these days, more and more Jewish,” William Pierce wrote in The Turner Diaries. “No matter how long it takes us and no matter to what lengths we must go, we’ll demand a final settlement of the account between our two races,” the narrator promises at the book’s conclusion. “If the Organization survives this contest, no Jew will—anywhere. We’ll go to the uttermost ends of the earth to hunt down the last of Satan’s spawn.” White nationalism is a fractious countercultural social movement, and its factions often disagree with each other about basic questions of theory and practice. The movement does not take a single, unified position on the Jewish question. But antisemitism has been a throughline from the Posse Comitatus, which set itself against “anti-Christ Jewry”; to David Duke’s refurbished Ku Klux Klan, which abandoned anti-Catholicism in the 1970s in order to focus on “Jewish supremacism”; to the neonazi group The Order, inspired by The Turner Diaries, which in the mid-1980s went on a rampage of robberies and synagogue bombings in Washington state and murdered a Jewish radio talk show host in Denver; to evangelical leaders like Pat Robertson who denounced antisemitism but used its popularity among their followers to promote an implicitly White supremacist “Christian nationalism”; to the contemporary Alt Right named by White nationalist Richard Spencer, which has brought antisemitic thought and imagery to new audiences on the internet—and now at White House press conferences.

Doing primary research on hate groups revealed the contours of the movement’s antisemitism in even more intricate detail. At a time when many larger social justice organizations refused to take White nationalism seriously, regional groups like Communities Against Hate, Coalition for Human Dignity, Montana Human Rights Network, Rural Organizing Project, and dozens of others did much of the groundwork documenting its theories, strategies, and warring currents. That’s why in 1990, for instance, antiracist activists were itching to get our hands on a copy of Vigilantes of Christendom, a self-published book by a writer named Richard Kelly Hoskins influential on the Christian Identity circuit. (I scored a copy by marching into a book vending tent at a White supremacist rally and marketing it to passersby as a life-changing volume I had read at the behest of a White friend.) We learned that Hoskins’s book appropriated the Old Testament story of Phineas, a prominent Israelite who marries outside the faith and is punished for his transgression by a rogue member of the tribe who kills him and his bride with a spear. Historically unpopular within the rabbinic tradition for appearing to endorse this lawless act, Hoskins’s work celebrated the tale. To join the Priesthood, he wrote, an Aryan must act as a latter-day Phineas by perpetrating lone-wolf attacks against inferior races and their White apologists.

The Phineas Priesthood does not, in an organizational sense, appear to actually exist. But for decades, domestic terrorists—like Eric Rudolph, a Christian Identity acolyte who killed people in a string of bombing attacks at Southern gay bars, abortion clinics, and the 1996 summer Olympics in Atlanta—have allegedly seen themselves as Phineas Priests. Like the Phineas Priesthood, one small formation that might stand in for the whole, contemporary White nationalism has no clear center. Yet it does have a deadly commitment to revolutionary violence against racial others, and to the state apparatus perceived to do their bidding. And like the Priesthood, it rests upon a tortuous racial cosmology in which Jews form a monstrous, all-powerful cabal that uses subhuman others, including Blacks and immigrants, as pawns to destroy White nationhood.

Over years of speaking about White nationalism in the 1990s and early 2000s in the Northwest and then the Midwest and South, I found that audiences—whether white or of color, at synagogues or churches, universities or police trainings—generally had a relationship to white nationalism that, at least in one basic sense, was like my own. They knew the scope and seriousness of the movement from personal experience, and—if they didn’t take this for granted to begin with—they were not shocked to discover its antisemitic emphasis. The resistance I have encountered when I address antisemitism has primarily come since I moved to the Northeast seven years ago, and from the most established progressive antiracist leaders, organizations, coalitions, and foundations around the country. It is here that a well-meaning but counterproductive thicket of discourse has grown up insisting that Jews—of Ashkenazi descent, at least—are uncontestably White, and that to challenge this is to deny the workings of White privilege. In other words, when I’m asked, “Where is the antisemitism?,” what I am often really being asked is, “Why should we be talking about antisemitism?”

And indeed—why? Why, when the president of the United States appears bent on removing as many dark-skinned immigrants from the U.S. as he can, and when men who look like me are shot in the street or tortured to death in prison with impunity? Why, when the leadership of some mainstream Jewish communal organizations level false charges of antisemitism in order to silence critique—whether by Jews or non-Jews—of Israeli government policies? Why, after decades of soul-searching by Jewish antiracists has established a seeming consensus that Jews—with Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews posited as an exception—should regard themselves as White allies of people of color, eschewing any identity as a racialized people with their own skins at risk in the fight against White supremacy? Why, when Jews are safe and claims to the contrary serve to justify rather than to challenge racial and other oppressions, like conservative commentator Alan Dershowitz’s cynical recent attempt to discredit antiracist and anticolonial struggles by declaring intersectionality an antisemitic concept? Why, when Jews of European descent are supposedly “White,” have long been, will ever be?

Antisemitism fuels White nationalism, a genocidal movement now enthroned in the highest seats of American power, and fighting antisemitism cuts off that fuel for the sake of all marginalized communities under siege from the Trump regime and the social movement that helped raise it up.

I can answer this question as I have been doing and will continue to do: antisemitism fuels White nationalism, a genocidal movement now enthroned in the highest seats of American power, and fighting antisemitism cuts off that fuel for the sake of all marginalized communities under siege from the Trump regime and the social movement that helped raise it up. To refuse to deal with any ideology of domination, moreover, is to abet it. Contemporary social justice movements are quite clear that to refuse antiracism is an act of racism; to refuse feminism is an act of sexism. To refuse opposition to antisemitism, likewise, is an act of antisemitism. Arguably, not much more should need to be said than that. But I suspect that much more does need to be said. To the hovering question, why should we be talking about antisemitism, I reply, what is it we are afraid we will find out if we do? What historic and contemporary conflicts will be laid bare? And if we recognize that White privilege really is privilege, what will it mean for Jewish antiracists to give up the fantasy that they ever really had it to begin with?

And yet this impasse seems finally to be breaking down. It has long been the case that at moments when the left has suffered another devastating and seemingly inexplicable political loss, my phone rings more often; now that the White nationalist movement has come to national power, it is ringing off the hook. The public and private discussions I’ve had just in the past month suggest a hunger to understand antisemitism—within and outside the Jewish community—the likes of which I have never witnessed before. Certainly many American Jews who regard themselves as White are feeling less so over these recent months as the candidate-turned-president seemed reluctant to disavow his endorsement by David Duke, the most notorious White supremacist in America. Meanwhile, Jewish cemeteries are desecrated even as the administration directs the FBI to double down on the surveillance of Muslims and focus less on the White supremacists who constitute the principal domestic terrorist threat in the United States. Jewish thought leaders and journalists are being harassed on social media. Just last week, White House press secretary Sean Spicer caused a furor by favorably comparing Adolph Hitler to Bashar al-Assad of Syria in remarks that, whether intentionally or not, echoed the apologetics of Holocaust deniers.

We do not yet know where Trump’s coalition will land on the question of White nationalism. That Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner is Jewish should not in itself be of comfort; there were Jews who worked with Hitler, too, and Blacks in the Confederate army. But it is important to note that the White nationalist faction of the administration led by Stephen Bannon—now ousted from his position in the National Security Council—is just one of several warring parties and currently appears to be losing ground. In other words, we do not yet have a fully activated White nationalist administration. (If we did, we’d know.) At the same time, the fact that this remains an open question at all likely invites more than a few ostensibly “White” Jews to contemplate the provisional nature of their Whiteness, their privilege. Privilege, after all, is not the same as power. Privilege can be revoked. And this means too that progressive movements and social change organizations must come to understand that all social movements have influence, including those that seek to construct a society based on exclusion and terror.

Privilege, after all, is not the same as power. Privilege can be revoked. And this means too that progressive movements and social change organizations must come to understand that all social movements have influence, including those that seek to construct a society based on exclusion and terror.

Sometimes I wish I had a better story to tell about how I arrived at this analysis—a story more dramatic or more heartwarming, somehow more about me. If I live and work, as I do, in the kind of daily, intimate Black-Jewish coalitions that were a mainstay of the civil rights movement but are now supposed to be fraught with mutual suspicion, I must have experienced a historically uncanny revelation or been drawn to the Jewish community through some mysterious pull of identification. It’s true that back in Long Beach, on days I opted out of middle school, the man at the corner deli would call me over and give me blueberry blintzes. He was the first person I knew was Jewish. I didn’t know what that meant, but the blintzes were good, and when you don’t have a lot of food, they are even better. But I also remember the delicious sushi a local Japanese restaurant gave me. I still love sushi, and blintzes, but neither helped me to understand racism or social change. There was no kumbaya experience, no light bulb, no moment where I became Paul on the road to Damascus. It was just common sense to study my enemy, White nationalism. And like any worthwhile research project, it has taken time.

A central insistence of antiracist thought over the past several decades is that, as with any social category produced by regimes of power, you don’t choose race, power chooses it for you; it names you. This is why all the well-meaning identification in the world does not make a White person Black. Likewise, as much as I draw inspiration from the Jewish community, and as much as I adore my Jewish partner and friends, it was my organizing against antisemitism as a Black antiracist that first pulled me to the Jewish community, not the other way around. I developed an analysis of antisemitism because I wanted to smash White supremacy; because I wanted to be free. If we acknowledge that White nationalism clearly and forcefully names Jews as non-white, and did so in the very fiber of its emergence as a post-civil rights right-wing revolutionary movement, then we are forced to recognize our own ignorance about the country  we thought we lived in. It is time to have that conversation.



Identity Evropa and the Fraternity of White Supremacy

Writing for The Public Eye this spring, author Naomi Braine delves into the history of the 2nd wave Klan:

The Klan of the 1920s was a mainstream, national fraternal organization which openly espoused White supremacy and engaged in racist terrorism but whose primary activities involved a range of community projects of interest to its middle class membership, from social events (e.g. pageants and baseball teams) to support for Prohibition…The KKK functioned in many ways as an ordinary fraternal order, with special social events and women’s and children’s auxiliaries. This effectively normalized the expression of White supremacy combined with conservative moralism as no different than any other social organization.

The origins and progression of the Klan being permitted to function in society as a social club or “ordinary fraternal order” is striking when you see images and messaging coming from the White nationalist groups that have coalesced in recent years.

“Become part of the fraternity”: Screenshot from the Identity Evropa website.

The media often portrays clean-cut individuals such as Alt Right leader Richard Spencer or members of Identity Evropa as proof of a re-branding of White nationalism and indeed, there is a long history of White supremacist groups re-inventing their image to become more mainstream and palatable. Along with the shifting aesthetic, the messaging coming out of the Alt Right movement also is reminiscent of the allure of early Klan in giving young White men identity and purpose.

The initial formation of the KKK in the 19th century has been described as a social club using trolling tactics not unlike the Alt Right. In a review of historian Elaine Frantz Parsons’ book Ku-Klux: The Birth of the Klan During Reconstruction, Malcolm Harris points out that the earliest Klan members were college boys looking for someone to be and something to do while being “forced to confront a rapidly changing social, cultural, and economic environment.”

Founder, Nathan Damigo is pictured on Twitter with the caption, “Get this look!”

Perhaps at similar crossroads is the recent White nationalist formulation called Identity Evropa. As the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reported in February, Identity Evropa is among a constellation of White nationalist groups that have popped up in the last couple years and are actively recruiting among young people. SPLC calls the group a “reimagining” of the now defunct National Youth Front, the young adult contingent of the White nationalist American Freedom Party. National Youth Front member, Nathan Damigo (a Cal State Stanislaus student and former Marine corporal), founded Identity Evropa in 2016. The group cloaks their White nationalist message in language of identitarian pride in European heritage and softens it with a polished look.

Identity Evropa intentionally recruits to maintain this particular image. Members are allegedly not allowed to have facial or neck tattoos, piercings, or even be overweight. Their website features a carousel of photos of sharply dressed members with fresh haircuts at events in D.C., New York City, San Francisco, and Charlottesville.

As Damigo described to The Daily Beast, Identity Evropa serves to “attract high-quality individuals from doctors to lawyers to economists to our fraternity” to ultimately “create an alternative social network that will act as a fifth column, over time shifting the edifice of our political establishment to encompass our interests.” He anticipates that the threat of negative repercussions when being “outed” as pro-White will diminish as their network grows. Recruiting efforts have included #ProjectSiege, a national poster campaign across college campuses.

While the tone of Identity Evropa reads social club or fraternity, that is not an indication of innocuousness as history has proved. In May, the group co-sponsored a protest along with an Alt Right coalition against the removal of a Confederate monument in Charlottesville, VA.

Identity Evropa took to Facebook to report back from the protest in Charlottesville, Va.

White nationalist Richard Spencer led the group bearing flaming torches to protest. He defended the May protest by stating that statues like that of Robert E. Lee are “symbols of our European heritage” and “represent gods” and that tearing them down represents a “symbolic genocide of the White race.”

The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan have since applied to host a rally near the same statue on July 8. Richard Spencer responded to this news by saying, “KKK is not my scene.” Spencer and Alt Right formations such as Identity Evropa might continue to distance themselves from groups such as the KKK, but the lens of history may reveal more similarity than difference between the two.

Trumpism and the Unstable Ground of Whiteness

Click here for a PDF version of this article

This article appears in the Spring 2017 edition of The Public Eye magazine.

Trumpism is built on a split-screen image of life for the White middle and working classes: a contemporary view of economic suffering and “loss” to encroaching “others,” while in the background hovers a shimmering past of cultural and economic glory. In reality, of course, the lost economic prosperity has largely flowed upwards to the wealthiest segment of the U.S. population, and the situation of White Trump voters continues to be significantly better than that of African Americans and Latinxs of similar educational levels.

A dangerous aspect of this dual image is that Trumpism describes a real element of White American experience while linking it to racist and xenophobic “alternative facts.” The parts of the country that can variously be described as Trump country, “Red States,” or the older phrase “the heartland,” may be concentrated in the Rust Belt, the South, and the Plains, but can also be found scattered through “Blue” states like New York and California. I find “heartland” useful because it captures the self-understanding of the small cities, towns, rural, sub- and ex-urban areas that have long been the core of a White, largely Protestant, multi-generation U.S. experience and identity that was central to the Trump constituency. These heartland communities are currently experiencing a decline in economic opportunities, a marked increase in opiate addiction, and reduced life expectancy,12 as well as a rise in racist xenophobia most visible as Trumpism. The convergence of economic and demographic change is not unique to our current era, and has previously led to a surge in the power and respectability of the Far Right among Whites living outside of major cities.

A dangerous aspect of this dual image is that Trumpism describes a real element of White American experience while linking it to racist and xenophobic “alternative facts.”

Times of demographic and cultural threat to a core White American identity and experience have historically empowered the Far Right. Post-Civil War reconstruction was obviously one such time, and led to the birth of the Ku Klux Klan in the South. The Civil Rights movement was another such time, and also saw a resurgence of the KKK in the South. In addition, the surge in neonazi and other Far Right organizing in the 1980s could be seen as another such period, following the movements of the 1960s and ‘70s that challenged traditional White male power structures. These three examples, however, were periods in which the Far Right was mobilized in particular areas, not times when its ideology was normalized or widely dispersed throughout the wider U.S. The 1920s and early ‘30s, however, after the last major wave of immigration and economic transformation, were a time of significant right-wing mobilization that spread throughout the U.S. and was largely normalized in White, non-urban areas.3 Significantly, the major threat to White identity in the ‘20s and ‘30s came from Southern and Eastern European immigrants, who were considered neither White nor Black according to the racial classifications of the time. Over time, these European immigrant groups came to be understood as White,4 illustrating both the possibility of shift in racial categories and the power they hold at any given moment in time.

A member of Identity Evropa (a White supremacist college organization) sports a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat at an event last year. (Photo courtesy of thetab.com/)

Demographers have been anticipating for many years the moment the U.S. population ceases to be a majority of European descent, or “White” in the current U.S. understanding of race. The dramatic expansion of inequality in the U.S. taking place at the same time as the economic decline of the “heartland” means that this shift in numerical majority status is occurring in the context of status loss across multiple dimensions for Whites most accustomed to living in homogenous, White-majority contexts. The Obama administration added a symbolic threat of increasing Black power and visibility while continuing the neoliberal policies that have eroded the employment, education, and housing advantages given to Whites, especially men—sometimes called the “wages of Whiteness”—for non-elite Whites relative to both those above and those below.

By contrast, Whites in the large urban areas that consistently voted for Clinton in November have largely become accustomed to contexts that combine White supremacy with numerical minority status. For example, Whites are only 48.7 percent of the population in the Chicago metropolitan area but have a median household income of $71,927, which is more than double the median Black household income.5 Similarly, in the Philadelphia metro area, Whites account for 41.7 percent of the population, and their median household income is 78 percent higher than the median Black household.6 In these and other large cities, Whites experience racial and cultural diversity without significant loss of economic and political power, reducing or eliminating the identity and status threat of racial diversity.  The lived experience of diversity without relative status loss may provide a form of perverse protection against Trumpist xenophobia and racism, particularly in contrast to the experience of economic anxiety without comparative context; the “deaths of despair”7 among White working and middle classes in heartland communities result from existential loss, not direct and objective comparison.

The historical expansion of the category of “White” to include the descendants of devalued European groups updated and maintained the White-Black bifurcation at the core of U.S. racial hierarchies. There is some evidence that a similar process may be underway today with some Asian and Latinx groups, although in ways that currently point to an “off-White” status in which some Latinx and Asian populations look increasingly similar to Whites in income and education.8 An analysis of the expansion of Whiteness addresses the societal level, not the experiences, negotiations, and conflicts that occur as the process unfolds. It also does not consider how the process may affect non-elite Whites who consider themselves the White American norm even as their social ground is shifting culturally and economically. The wave of reformist and right-wing movements of 1920s and ‘30s, particularly Prohibition and the second wave of the KKK, were a White, middle class, Protestant backlash against the growing power and assimilation of Southern and Eastern European immigrants, raising questions about what might be learned from this period in relation to today’s dynamics.

Photo from 1926 of Klansmen on a ferris wheel in Cañon City, CO. (Photo via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

The second wave of the KKK differed from the first, Reconstruction-era Klan, as well as the later Civil Rights-era Klan, in significant ways that are relevant to thinking about the contemporary Far Right. The Klan of the 1920s was a mainstream, national fraternal organization which openly espoused White supremacy and engaged in racist terrorism but whose primary activities involved a range of community projects of interest to its middle class membership, from social events (e.g. pageants and baseball teams) to support for Prohibition.9 They combined racism and xenophobia with a generalized conservative Protestant moralism concerned with opposition to birth control, the teaching of evolution, and drinking alcohol. Of particular relevance, this iteration of the Klan explicitly targeted Catholics and Jews as threatening racial “others,”10 drawing clear and uncompromising boundaries around who counted as a White American. It included a wide range of members who would not have endorsed the violence perpetrated by some within the national network, but who nonetheless embraced a platform of nativism, White Protestant supremacy, and both moral and economic conservatism.11 The KKK functioned in many ways as an ordinary fraternal order, with special social events and women’s and children’s auxiliaries. This effectively normalized the expression of White supremacy combined with conservative moralism as no different than any other social organization.12 There are strong analogies here to the ways conservative movements today, including the Tea Party and conservative Christianity, have normalized and spread a potent combination of racism, sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia with Breitbart News Network and other media outlets serving as bridges to the Alt Right and the Trump campaign.

The historical reality of Prohibition embodied the era’s deep conflicts over national identity, power, and social dominance.

Unlike the KKK, Prohibition is not usually considered in connection with racial boundary enforcement or Far Right movements. Popular history and imagery largely associate Prohibition with flappers, jazz, gangsters, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and the desire to “clean up” urban life in the early 20th Century. While those were all elements, the historical reality of Prohibition embodied the era’s deep conflicts over national identity, power, and social dominance.13 The movement for Prohibition was an assertion of traditional White, Protestant dominance over the “degenerate” ways—and growing prominence—of Catholic and Jewish immigrants, and to a lesser extent African Americans. Enforcement of the law reflected this not only in the differential targeting of working class immigrants and African Americans, but in the active role played by organized community vigilante groups, including the KKK. The repeal of Prohibition under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was part of the realignment of national political processes associated with the New Deal,14 bringing the largely immigrant, urban, industrial working class into a political coalition that implemented progressive social welfare policies in part through the deliberate exclusion of African Americans.15 It took the uprisings of the Civil Rights movement before African Americans were incorporated into the New Deal.

The contemporary concentration of opiate use among native-born, non-urban Whites has discouraged punitive substance control policy, but in other ways the current moment has some sociopolitical analogies to 100 years ago. This is also a time of extreme inequality, a second Gilded Age, and a period of consolidation of changes in the structure of capitalism. The early 20th Century solidified an industrial economy while the current period has seen a shift to financialization; each of these transitions came with significant technological development and change. The early 20th Century was also the last time the U.S. had a high proportion of immigrants concentrated in major cities, with associated demographic and cultural shifts. Importantly, these economic and social changes led to both subjective and objective loss of status among middle class and small-landholder Whites outside of large cities,16 although there does not appear to have been the same depth of social and economic threat experienced in those communities today.

The right-wing resurgence did not begin with the populist nationalism that elected Trump, and is unlikely to end in four years regardless of who wins the 2018 and 2020 elections.

In both eras, the response among native born “heartland” Whites has been a mainstreaming and normalization of explicitly racist, xenophobic, and violent right-wing perspectives. The Far Right has gained more power today than in the past, with Trump’s ascendancy to the White House and the installation of Hard Right movement figures such as Steve Bannon and Mike Pence in the executive branch. The conflation of Muslims and “terrorism” fuses religion, ethnicity and politics at an even deeper level than earlier accusations of Jewish communism, with similar connotations of international “infiltration” and threat. The right-wing resurgence did not begin with the populist nationalism that elected Trump, and is unlikely to end in four years regardless of who wins the 2018 and 2020 elections. The second wave of the KKK went from 1915 until the late ‘20s, and Prohibition lasted from 1920 to ‘33.

One of the important lessons to be learned from the 1920s and ‘30s is to be wary of alternative social contracts that have genuinely progressive elements while maintaining authoritarian structures and White supremacy. The enforcement of Prohibition led to a significant expansion of policing and penal systems in the U.S., creating the core structures of the current federal law enforcement and prison systems.17 The first federal drug-control laws were passed in 1909 (the Opium Exclusion Act) and 1914 (the Harrison Act), but national enforcement accelerated significantly after the repeal of Prohibition when the fundamentally racist institutional enforcement infrastructure reoriented towards drug control.18 The New Deal instituted a set of economically progressive policies but did so through the consolidation of an alliance that brought together the European immigrant, industrial working class with non-urban, native-born Whites, including the southern power structure, while explicitly excluding African Americans.19 The coalitions that in 1933 simultaneously ended Prohibition and brought in the New Deal enacted some progressive change, but only at the expense of African Americans and other non-Whites, who remained marginalized while Catholics and even Jews were increasingly incorporated into Whiteness.

These historical examples suggest the potential for a political response, perhaps by the Democratic Party or a populist movement less racist than Trumpism, which offers some economic relief but re-inscribes White supremacy by bringing together U.S. born Whites and selected immigrant groups. The 2016 exit polls20 show the seeds of this in a right-wing direction, with 29 percent of both Latinxs and Asians voting for Trump. These data fit with the economic and social stratification among immigrants that would enable a re-inscription of the boundaries of both Whiteness and Blackness,21 and could be harnessed even more effectively perhaps by a conservative Democrat positioned as “anyone but Trump” in 2020. For example, Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, is a conservative Democrat with a strong neoliberal track record and marked hostility towards both unions and low-income communities in New York City who shows signs of national ambitions.  His highly touted new Excelsior scholarship program offers free tuition at NY public colleges for middle class families, but the actual design of the program does not cover the majority of students’ expenses yet requires a schedule that will make work and family responsibilities difficult to maintain.

If history is a guide, the hallmarks of a re-inscription of Whiteness would benefit the middle class in a significant way while leaving out the urban poor, particularly the non-White poor. Possibilities include a Medicare buy-in or other form of health insurance support that helps the middle class while being too expensive for the working poor; the expansion of a DACA-like program but with elements that enhance criminalization of the undocumented as a whole; or perhaps restrictions on immigration overall that don’t focus on terrorism but enhance the polarization between “valuable” and “criminal” immigrants.

It is vital to remember that the expansion of Whiteness intrinsically involves the simultaneous re-inscription, and perhaps expansion, of Blackness. It will be necessary to break the historical racist alliance between elite and non-elite Whites that lies at the core of the current situation, and to do it before new groups are inducted into the edges of the privileged circle.


1 Naomi Braine, “The Public Health Story Behind Trump’s Rise,” Political Research Associates, December 1, 2016, https://www.politicalresearch.org/2016/12/01/the-public-health-story-behind-trumps-rise/.

2 Sir Angus Deaton and Anne Case, “Mortality and morbidity in the 21st century.” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Conference Drafts March 23-4 2017.

3 Rory McVeigh, “Structural Incentives for Conservative Mobilization: Power Devaluation and the Rise of the Ku Klux Klan, 1915-25.” Social Forces, June 1999, 77(4).

4 Karen Brodkin, How Jews Became White Folks and What That Says About Race in America. (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1999).

5 American Community Survey, 2015 http://www.census.gov/data.html

6 American Community Survey, 2015 http://www.census.gov/data.html

7 Sir Angus Deaton and Anne Case, “Mortality and morbidity in the 21st century.” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Conference Drafts March 23-4 2017.

8 Eduardo Bonilla Silva, “We are all Americans!: the Latin Americanization of racial stratification in the USA,” Race & Society 5 (2002) 3–16.

9 Nancy MacLean, Behind the Mask of Chivalry: the Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994); Rory McVeigh, “Structural Incentives for Conservative Mobilization: Power Devaluation and the Rise of the Ku Klux Klan, 1915-25.” Social Forces, June 1999, 77(4).

10 Nancy MacLean, Behind the Mask of Chivalry: the Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994).

11 Nancy MacLean, Behind the Mask of Chivalry: the Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994).

12 Nancy MacLean, Behind the Mask of Chivalry: the Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994); Rory McVeigh, “Structural Incentives for Conservative Mobilization: Power Devaluation and the Rise of the Ku Klux Klan, 1915-25.” Social Forces, June 1999, 77(4).

13 Lisa McGirr, The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State, (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2015).

14 Lisa McGirr, The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State, (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2015).

15 Frances Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward, Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare, (Vintage Press, 2nd edition, 1993).

16 Rory McVeigh, “Structural Incentives for Conservative Mobilization: Power Devaluation and the Rise of the Ku Klux Klan, 1915-25.” Social Forces, June 1999, 77(4).

17 Lisa McGirr, The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State, (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2015).

18 Lisa McGirr, The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State, (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2015).

19 Frances Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward, Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare, (Vintage Press, 2nd edition, 1993).

20 “Election 2016: Exit Polls,” The New York Times, November 8, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/11/08/us/politics/election-exit-polls.html.

21 Eduardo Bonilla Silva, “We are all Americans!: the Latin Americanization of racial stratification in the USA,” Race & Society 5 (2002) 3–16.