Monday, June 4, 2018

PE of Fash Week V: Free Speech and the Fascist Creep (Reading List)

The "required" readings in this week's class provided three levels of analysis of the phenomenon of fascist recruitment. The Simi and Futrell piece provides the most intimate portrait with a focus on white power activists, mostly neo-nazi skinheads, navigating normal society. The Berbrier piece provides an analysis of white power activist's public rhetoric since the transformation of the movement one based on militias to one based on conferences. The Perry piece provides the most zoomed-out picture, giving an overall account of the transformation of the white power movement in the post-Civil Rights era.

All three authors note the untenability of their subjects' core beliefs in public. Whereas Berbrier investigates how white power activists reframe their rhetoric for a post-WWII audience, Simi and Futrell explore the justification of individual white power activists in selectively hiding their leanings altogether. Perry provides a general overview of the development of the former phenomenon.

The purpose of this class is to discuss how and why white power rhetoric spreads. What we find is that it does so through the self-conscious duplicity of its deliverers. Rank-and-file white nationalists, according to Simi and Futrell's account, deliberately hide most of their beliefs in their everyday life. When they do reveal their inclinations, it is usually piecemeal and extremely selective. They justify this through an appeal to long term sustainability, going so far as to regard in-your-face racists as naive.

Berbrier finds a similar duplicity in the public pronouncements of white power leaders such as David Duke, Wilmot Robertson, and Thomas Robb. He notes that ultimately these speakers find themselves forced by the historical moment to fit their rhetoric into a "cultural pluralist master frame" in order to gain traction outside of their movement. According to Berbrier, this is accomplished through an ethnically affected equivalence and reversal where white nationalist ends are equated to the nationalist aims of the subaltern, and then, when such equivalence is rejected, are claimed to be the position of the true victims -- white people under affirmative action.

"Required" Readings

Peter Simi and Robert Futrell 2009 Negotiating White Power Activist Stigma

This article discusses how white power activists negotiate their political commitments on the one hand with operating in a society that finds those commitments morally detestable on the other.

Mitch Berbrier 1998 "Half the Battle": Cultural Resonance, Framing Processes, and Ethnic Affectations in Contemporary White Separatist Rhetoric

This article discusses the linguistic approaches white power activists (white nationalists, white separatists, etc.) have adopted in the post-Civil Rights era in the US. Among those analyzed are David Duke and Tom Metzger.

Barbara Perry 2000 "Button-Down Terror": The Metamorphosis of the Hate Movement

This article reviews the ways that fascism in the US has sought to take on a professional and academic demeanor.

My Writing

Universities Are Protecting Free Speech for Bigots at the Expense of Student Safety

My article "Universities Are Protecting Bigots at the Expense of Student Safety" in Truthout discusses the ways that institutions fail to serve their purpose in the pursuit of accommodating fascists like Richard Spencer.

Popular Pulbications

Nikhil Sonnad & Tim Squirrell The Alt-Right Is Creating Its Own Dialect. Here's the Dictionary
Mike Isaacson The Real Origins of 'Lone Wolf' White Supremacists Like Dylann Roof
Malcolm Harris LOL KLANS
Luke O'Brien My Journey to the Center of the Alt-Right
Vegas Tenold The Little Fuhrer


Elle Reeve - "Charlottesville: Race and Terror"
Rachel Maddow & Daryle Lamont Jenkins - "Racist-Right Finds New Prominence Via Donald Trump"
Magalie LaGuerre-Wilson & Marlene Laruelle - "Europe's Far-Right Political Movements"
Why White Supremacists Love Tucker Carlson

Book for Further Reading

Alexander Reid Ross 2017 Against the Fascist Creep
Robert O. Paxton 2004 The Anatomy of Fascism