The Neo-Nazi scum have been rising to the surface of the pond since November 8th. Next will come the recreation of Kristallnacht. After that, we will have Undocumented Persons Relocation Canps with signs over the entrance gates: Work Sets You Free (in English, not German). Of course, the ovens in the camps can generate electricity for all-white neighboring communities. If this is a (fair & balanced) reason to go and vomit, so be it.
[x NY Fishwrap]
By Kelly J. Baker
TagCrowd cloud of the following piece of writing
Richard B. Spencer is one of the main figures of the alt-right movement, a former doctoral student from Duke whose movement supports the creation of “an ethno-state” for white Europeans and “peaceful ethnic cleansing.” The Southern Poverty Law Center describes him as “a suit-and-tie version of the white supremacists of old, a kind of professional racist in khakis”; a recent Los Angeles Times profile ran with a photo of him in sunglasses and a black shirt, looking more like a hipster academic than a Klansman.
This sort of image makeover is a big part of the alt-right’s game. They want to convince the media that they are a “new form” of white nationalism that we’ve never seen before: clean-cut, intellectual, far removed from the unpolished white supremacists of the past. But the alt-right is not as new as we might think. In fact, efforts to dress up white supremacy in ideas and middle-class respectability have been around since the first organized movements emerged in the late 19th century — and once again, people are falling for it.
Part of the problem is a lack of historical awareness. When white supremacist organizations crop up in tellings of American history, they appear and recede from the story quickly, a footnote about racism to be overlooked, not a central component of the American story. Hence, the alt-right appears novel only if we ignore the continuum of “intellectual” white supremacy from which it emerged: scientific racism in the 19sup>th and early 20sup>th centuries, the national Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s, and the Citizens Councils of the 1950s and ’60s.
While the first Klan emerged among Confederate Veterans in the post-Reconstruction South, by the end of the 19th century some white supremacists had begun to move into more respectable circles by using science and Darwinism to explain their views. These ideas had proponents across the country, from Southern Bourbons to Boston Brahmins concerned with influxes of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe.
Madison Grant, a lawyer, eugenicist and the author of The Passing of the Great Race (1916, 2012), wrote that the American “stock” would be jeopardized by these particular European immigrants. Grant established the idea of a superior Nordic race, claiming that immigrants from England, Scotland and the Netherlands founded America, a Nordic nation.
His book became one of the most popular works on scientific racism to originate in the United States; in The Great Gatsby (2015), F. Scott Fitzgerald reflected the way the ideas of Grant and other scientific racists worked their way into mainstream thought. “Have you read The Rise of the Colored Empires by this man Goddard?” Tom Buchanan asks, in a thinly masked allusion to Grant. “It’s a fine book, and everybody ought to read it. The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be — will be utterly submerged. It’s all scientific stuff; it’s been proved.”
The book went through multiple printings and translations into different languages. Adolf Hitler relied on Grant’s ideas about the supremacy of the Nordic race to support sterilization and horrendous medical experiments. He called the book “my bible.”
Middle-class white supremacy had another wave of popularity in the 1920s, when the second Klan, which had a nationwide following, drew on the ideas of Grant and others to sell white supremacy to both the rural and urban middle classes. It printed newspapers and books, held seminars as well as rallies, and even tried to establish a Klan university in Indiana.
Along with drumming up racial fears, the 1920s Klan relied on scientific and theological racism in The Imperial Night-Hawk, its national newspaper. Writing for the paper in 1923, a Louisiana Klansman and minister, W. C. Wright, outlined the Klan’s intellectual position on white supremacy, in which white people were “the leading race,” America was “a white man’s country, discovered, dedicated, settled, defended, and developed by white men,” and the distinctions between the races were scientific and divinely created.
The 1950s saw another surge of “respectable” racism, this time in the form of the Citizens Councils, founded in Mississippi by Robert B. Patterson in response to the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision. Rather than the vigilantism and terrorism of the 1950s and ’60s Klan, the councils relied on more middle-class methods of opposing civil rights: boycotting black-owned businesses and denying mortgages to black people. The sociologist Charles M. Payne describes them as “pursuing the agenda of the Klan with the demeanor of the Rotary Club.”
While it might seem newsworthy that today’s alt-right members wear suits and profess academic-sounding racism, they are an extension of these previous white supremacist movements, dressed up in 21st-century lingo, social media and fashion. We ignore that continuity at our peril: Focusing on their respectability overlooks their racism, but more pressingly, by convincing ourselves that they are taking a new, mainstream turn, it makes white supremacy appear normal and acceptable.
The alt-right is not an example of white supremacy marching toward the mainstream; this has always been the case. It is an example how white supremacy went from an unarguable fact of American culture to a debatable and offensive reality. That’s not novel; it’s American history. ###
[Kelly J. Baker is the author of Gospel According to the Klan: The KKK’s Appeal to Protestant America, 1915-1930 (2011). She received a BA summa cum laude (American and Florida studies as well as a PhD (religion) from Florida State University.]
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