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💬 "From The Fringe To The Capitol"

Code Switch

Photo by Samuel Schneider / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Hosts: Gene Demby, Shereen Marisol Meraji
Guest: Kathleen Belew, Historian, University of Chicago
Category: Society & Culture | 💬 Opinion

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[10:06] KB: “[There are obvious references to what has happened at the Capitol in a book called] The Turner Diaries […] that is deeply important to the white power movement. […] The Turner Diaries is […] widely circulated among the racist far right, not because it is a good novel, but because it answers a really important, imaginative question for this movement. And that question is, how could a small fringe movement hope to achieve what it set out to do in the 1980s and has been trying to do ever since, which is to violently overthrow the United States, the most militarized superstate in the history of the world? In the novel, I think they talk about this as the problem of a gnat trying to assassinate an elephant.”

[11:28] GD: “The book's answer is that the people in this white supremacist movement should carry out mass casualty attacks where one person could do a lot of damage […] and destabilize the government. […] In the lead up to everything that happened last week, there was all sorts of direct references on sites like Parler […] to this fictional event called The Day of the Rope. So, The Day of the Rope is a mass lynching of all the people that white supremacists consider their enemies.”

[12:09] KB: “[An enemy is] everyone in interracial relationships, Jewish people, everyone who is a traitor to the cause or a race traitor, journalists, communists and importantly, legislators and congress people. So, that's what was in my mind when I saw that these activists had erected a gallows in front of the Capitol building and several people were taking selfies there. That's what was on my mind when I saw that they had smashed journalists camera and made a noose out of the cord. And I mean, that's even what was on my mind when I was looking at the pictures of some of these people in the Capitol buildings with with materials like zip ties that make us wonder whether they had planned to abduct and possibly also do violence to legislators.”

[13:15] GD: “The bombs didn't detonate. The Molotov cocktails didn't ignite. It was not a massacre. It was not a bombing. But […] it might have been successful in a very different way, because in The Turner Diaries, there's also a scene of an attack on the Capitol in which [… ] not that many people are hurt. But[…] the point of that scene, it's supposed to be not to augment the biggest body count it can. It's supposed to be a show of force that awakens other white people to the cause so that they can be recruited in the book. That attack is supposed to demonstrate to other white supremacists just how easy it would be to attack the seat of government to demonstrate how vulnerable the U.S. institutions are when it's time for the eventual white supremacist revolution.”

[16:40] GD: “It's really important to remember that President Trump may have been able to [… ] rile everybody up and get them to storm the Capitol, but he can't really call them off even if he wanted to. He catalyzed a movement that existed long before he was in office. But he is not the leader of that movement. But it's because of him, though, that the movement is much closer to the mainstream of American life. And it probably will be for a long time after he leaves, which is what a lot of people in that movement wanted all along.”

Rating: 🍎🍎🍎

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 32 min | 🗓️ 01/13/2021
✅ Time saved: 30 min

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