Rising Nazism and Racial Intolerance in the U.S.
A Contemporary Analysis
Report submitted to the United Nations
The historical circumstances regarding the emergence of Germanic Nazism in the 1920s were, in many ways, a product of long-held racial beliefs and undercurrents in German society. However, as Hannah Arendt points out, "Hitlerism exercised its strong international and inter-European appeal during the thirties because racism, although a state doctrine only in Germany, had been a public trend in public opinion everywhere" (Arendt, 1966). Fascism in Europe pre-dated Nazism. Mussolini's Italy, Franco's Spain, and other fascist states that emerged in Europe shared varying degrees of racial thinking; most placed less emphasis on theories of racial superiority in comparison to the Third Reich. In America, the Friends of New Germany, and later the German American Bund, emerged as pro-Nazi movements very much in keeping with Nazi Party in Germany, but with American cultural signifiers. (The Bund identified George Washington as the first real fascist.) The Bund itself was broken up during WW II, but a distinct brand of American Nazism/white supremacy emerged in the post-years. In 1959, the beginnings of a unique American culture of racism influenced by Nazism and fascism began to form. In that year, George Lincoln Rockwell inaugurated the American Nazi Party. A veteran with a commanding personality, Rockwell set down the principles that most modern neo-Nazi movements still follow: theories of racial purity that embrace essentially all European Americans; a virulent anti-Semitism in keeping with traditional Nazism; and a fixation on a white supremacist version of Christianity (Simonelli, 1999).
The New Left and the City
The political and cultural trauma of the 1950s brought about the beginnings of a monumental evolution of the American Left. A decade after the end of the war, the long-feuding AFL and CIO merged. A subsequent purge of leftists from the old CIO ensued as entrenched labor bosses sought to eliminate dissidents, ingratiate themselves to the political elite, and gain cover against charges of communist collusion. In 1956, the Red Army roared into Hungary to eliminate a grassroots revolution against the Stalinist government in power. Marxists in the West began to have their eyes opened to the reality of Soviet Communism, while the purges of American McCarthyism eliminated real and imagined radicals in nearly every institution of American life. The old "Labor Left," having achieved many of its bread and butter issues, appeared to be incapable of dealing with an insurgent Right. In 1960, sociologist C. Wright Mills wrote an open letter to a new generation of radicals. Entitled "Letter to the New Left," Mills' manifesto called for a rethinking and reorganizing of the America Left. A new generation soon answered Mills. Originally known as the Student League for Industry, the Students for a Democratic Society emerged in 1962. That same year they authored an organizational manifesto known as the "Port Huron Statement," which greatly influenced much of the Left throughout the remainder of the decade. A remarkably far-sighted document, it accurately diagnosed many of the systemic issues facing the country at the dawn of the sixties. The list of deep-rooted problems addressed by SDS ran the gamut from the environment, sustainability, income inequality, and very presciently, the multiplying issues then manifesting themselves in urban areas.
Dear Johnny Lake
A Land Ethic
How shall we relate to the biosphere? What is our relationship with the land? How should we treat that which is "other"? Should our relationship be one of domineering coercion or mutual connection? A reciprocal exchange or a division of power? Is the land sacred and priceless or a profane commodity? These questions are at the heart of the many conservation codes, land ethics, and environmental theories which make up the fields of science known as Ecology and Environmental Studies. There is no shortage of answers to these important questions, either, with people like Aldo Leopold, Gifford Pinchot, John Muir, Edward Abbey, Arne Naess, Rachel Carson, Vandana Shiva, and Henry Thoreau offering their ideas and experiences to us. Some of these ideas, those which most closely echo our cultural myths, have become reified and codified into environmental policy, and make up the basis for how our species relates to our biosphere. As a wilderness therapy guide, I have the incredible privilege and responsibility of facilitating wilderness experiences for the marginalized and disenchanted byproducts of our culture: young women and men who are looking for meaning in their lives. These young wanderers spend months at a time in an area of wilderness, experiencing deep connection and intimacy with themselves, other humans, nonhuman life and the land itself. Their experiences in the woods vary, but are almost universally life-changing and healing on a deep, primal level. The young woman who wrote this letter spent several months living in an area of the Pacific Northwest that had very recently (within 40 years) been devastated by commercial logging, leaving the land torn open, wounded..
Studying in the Streets
The Pedagogy of Throwing Bottles at the Cops
Derek R. Ford
After yet another brutal murder of a person of color by the police, the streets of Baltimore are on fire. Protests have taken place on a near daily basis, and they are growing increasingly militant. I haven't lived in Baltimore for a while, and so I have been watching the battle unfold through social media. One of my close comrades has been reporting from the frontlines, and recently he posted a 1-minute video that captured succinctly the tragedy and hope running through the streets. The sun had long been set and the first mass protests that took place earlier that day - Saturday, April 25 - had ended. It's a nondescript street corner in Baltimore, with multicolored row houses and a corner store in sight, and a few dozen riot cops are standing behind the barricades. We don't get a full view of the street but it looks like the cops outnumber the people. Most of the people are Black and, although we can't see the cops' faces, we know what color they are. There is no march taking place, no rally, no speeches. Instead, people seem to wander about. They are yelling at the cops, and for the duration of the video bottles, cans, and other objects are constantly being hurled across the barricades. A few people are recording the interactions, and some others are standing right up at the barricades, unafraid of the cops and the state power that they represent. Most of the people are just around the corner, and that's where the attacks on the cops originate (the spatial layout of the battle and barricades makes this the safest place to be). Others approach the barricades, shouting and gesturing at the cops, and then retreat again so they don't get hit by flying bottles.