A new definition of making America great again with Kathleen Belew
In this episode of In Reality, Kathleen Belew, University of Chicago historian and author of ‘Bring The War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America’, joins co-hosts Eric Schurenberg and Joan Donovan. In a fascinating conversation, Belew outlines how social media and the tactics of disinformation energized the white power movement that reached a watershed moment in the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.
Belew traces the current white supremacist surge to a movement that took root among veterans returning from the Vietnam war. The movement is made up of a number of loosely affiliated groups, whose ideology and goals changed little over the past 45 years. Indeed, the storming of the U.S. Capitol eerily recalled a similar event in the 1978 neo-Nazi handbook ‘The Turner Diaries’. Belew explains how these groups opportunistically latched on to the economic and racial resentments that brought Donald Trump to power and then used social media to communicate, organize and radicalize members.
Belew explains that white power movements have no intention of “making America great again” and instead agitate for the overthrow of democracy. To really make America great, she concludes, Americans need a better understanding of our government and our imperfect history. We can then address questions of what has made America great in the past and what remains to be done to make it great again.