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Fri Mar 15, 2019, 08:49 AM

White Nationalism's Deep American Roots by Adam Serwer

White Nationalism’s Deep American Roots
A long-overdue excavation of the book that Hitler called his “bible,” and the man who wrote it

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The pogrom in Pittsburgh, occurring just days before the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, seemed fundamentally un-American to many. Sessions’s denunciation spoke to the reality that most Jews have found a welcome home in the United States. His message also echoed what has become an insistent refrain in the Donald Trump era. Americans want to believe that the surge in white-supremacist violence and recruitment—the march in Charlottesville, Virginia, where neo-Nazis chanted “Jews will not replace us”; the hate crimes whose perpetrators invoke the president’s name as a battle cry—has no roots in U.S. soil, that it is racist zealotry with a foreign pedigree and marginal allure.

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The concept of “white genocide”—extinction under an onslaught of genetically or culturally inferior nonwhite interlopers—may indeed seem like a fringe conspiracy theory with an alien lineage, the province of neo-Nazis and their fellow travelers. In popular memory, it’s a vestige of a racist ideology that the Greatest Generation did its best to scour from the Earth. History, though, tells a different story. King’s recent question, posed in a New York Times interview, may be appalling: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization—how did that language become offensive?” But it is apt. “That language” has an American past in need of excavation. Without such an effort, we may fail to appreciate the tenacity of the dogma it expresses, and the difficulty of eradicating it. The president’s rhetoric about “shithole countries” and “invasion” by immigrants invites dismissal as crude talk, but behind it lie ideas whose power should not be underestimated.

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America has always grappled with, in the words of the immigration historian John Higham, two “rival principles of national unity.” According to one, the U.S. is the champion of the poor and the dispossessed, a nation that draws its strength from its pluralism. According to the other, America’s greatness is the result of its white and Christian origins, the erosion of which spells doom for the national experiment.

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The danger of Grantism, and its implications for both America and the world, is very real. External forces have rarely been the gravest threat to the social order and political foundations of the United States. Rather, the source of greatest danger has been those who would choose white purity over a diverse democracy. When Americans abandon their commitment to pluralism, the world notices, and catastrophe follows.


More here - https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/04/adam-serwer-madison-grant-white-nationalism/583258/


A sadly necessary and timely piece

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Fri Mar 15, 2019, 01:15 PM

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