On November 5, I presented on a panel, “White Supremacy, the 2020 Election, and the Pacific Northwest: White Power and Hate Studies Analysis,” hosted by the Eastern Washington University Women’s and Gender Education Center. I was joined on the panel by two scholars whom I respect immensely, political scientist Joe Lowndes and investigative journalist Jason Wilson.
My presentation focused on a critique of the concept of “extremism” as a paradigm for interpreting fascist and white supremacist movements. In brief, I mentioned that theorizing fascists and white supremacists as “extremists” can lead to (1) falling for fascists’ normalization tactics, because one expects them to seem strange and marginal; (2) ignoring the ways in which U.S. American society embraces white supremacy as a norm; (3) pairing the left and the right together in ways that lead to a state crackdown on the left; (4) promoting Islamophobia, by participating in a discourse that targets Muslims; and (5) misinterpreting fascism as primarily a crime problem, instead of seeing it as a social movement seeking power, always already connected to sources of power.
I recommended the following books and resources in my talk, which I’m happy to note here in further detail for those who would like to look them up:
Arun Kundnani, The Muslims Are Coming!: Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror (London: Verso, 2015)
Aurelien Mondon and Aaron Winter, Reactionary Democracy: How Racism and the Populist Far Right Became Mainstream (London: Verso, 2020)
Liz Fekete, Europe’s Fault Lines: Racism and the Rise of the Right (London: Verso, 2019)
Western States Center Toolkit on Confronting White Nationalism in Schools: https://www.westernstatescenter.org/schools/.