Interview with Kathleen Belew, author of Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America
Heard on NPR’s Fresh Air, with Terry Gross, with highlights posted at NPR on April 25, 2018. Listen:
In Aug. 2017, many Americans were shocked to see neo-Nazis and members of the so called alt-right demonstrating in Charlottesville, Va. But author Kathleen Belew says the roots of the rally were actually decades in the making.
Belew, who has spent more than 10 years studying America’s White Power movement, traces the movement’s rise to the end of the Vietnam War, and the feeling among some “white power” veterans that the country had betrayed them.
“To be clear, I’m not arguing that this is at all representative of Vietnam veterans — this is a tiny, tiny percentage of returning veterans,” Belew says. “But it is a large and instrumental number of people within the White Power movement — and they play really important roles in changing the course of movement action.”
In her new book, Bring the War Home, Belew argues that as disparate racist groups came together, the movement’s goal shifted from one of “vigilante activism” to something more wide-reaching: “It’s aimed at unseating the federal government. … It’s aimed at undermining infrastructure and currency to foment race war.”