SOURCES & RESOURCES

PRINT AND ONLINE BOOKS & ARTICLES

Alexander, Charles C., “Prophet of American Racism: Madison Grant and the Nordic Myth” (Phylon 23.1, 1962, 73-90)

  • Academic but accessible study of a highly influential white supremacist whose views a century ago parallel today’s “white genocide” theory. However, Alexander viewed the superior race as “Nordic,” excluding most European considered “white” by today’s white nationalists. Understanding Grant’s influence can help illustrate how the “white race” has never been a fixed concept. (A simpler, journalistic source, available online, is Adam Serwer’s, “White Nationalism’s Deep American Roots,” in The Atlantic, April 2019.)

American Society of Human Genetics, “ASHG Denounces Attempts to Link Genetics and Racial Supremacy” (American Journal of Human Genetics 103.5, 19 October 2018)

  • An unambiguous statement that “the study of human genetics challenges the traditional concept of different races of humans as biologically separate and distinct,” issued by the professional organization most qualified to speak to the issue.

Anonymous, “What Happened After My 13-Year-Old Son Joined the Alt-Right” (Washingtonian 5 May 2019)

  • A detailed account of one family’s experience with white nationalist youth recruitment. This account, written by the mother of a recruited child, is atypical in some respects, but it includes a number of vivid illustrations of how vulnerability to recruitment may be created and the social features of online recruitment. It also is a model of a patient and ultimately successful parental response. Anonymous accounts are inherently less credible than signed ones, but the author’s son was still in his mid-teens when this was published. Additional context appeared in a follow-up that was published a week later.

Anti-Defamation League, “Propaganda, Extremism and Online Recruitment Tactics” (2021)

  • A succinct description of how white nationalism and other extremist groups recruit young people online. Includes a list of questions to help young people reflect on these issues.

Anti-Defamation League, “The Sounds of Hate: The White Power Music Scene in the United States in 2012” (2012)

  • A journalistic overview that illustrates the dynamic of music in white nationalism, but is dated in its specifics.

Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism, New Hate and Old: The Changing Face of American White Supremacy (2018)

  • A substantive overview of the older-style and new Alt-Right elements of white nationalism, focused on developments around the “Unite the Right” rally of 2017. It introduces white nationalist ideology and terminology, and provides historical narrative to clarify distinct trends in movement development.

Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism, When Women Are the Enemy: The Intersection of Misogyny and White Supremacy (2018)

  • This report focuses on the pervasiveness of misogynistic views of women and anti-feminist advocacy by Alt-Right figures such as Andrew Anglin (editor of The Daily Stormer website), Greg Johnson (editor of Counter-Currents) and other leaders of contemporary American white nationalism. White nationalist groups and spokespeople are shown advocating strictly traditional roles for women, including women within the movement, with a primary goal being to raise white birth rates. This common misogynistic or anti-feminist perspective explains the major overlap between white nationalism and “incel” and other men’s rights groups, such as the Proud Boys.

Beirich, Heidi and Kevin Hicks, “White Nationalism in America,” in Brian Levin, ed., Hate Crimes: Understanding and Defining Hate Crimes (Praeger, 2009, pp. 109-131)

  • A brief academic survey of the development of white nationalism after the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. The chapter is particularly useful in illustrating recent trends to redefine and expand the boundaries of the “white race” to conform to contemporary US social views. The article also discusses the shift by white nationalists toward defining the US as a race-based country, rather than one based on political principles.

Berger, J.M., “Alt History: How a Self-published, Racist Novel Changed White Nationalism and Inspired Decades of Violence” (The Atlantic 16 September 2016)

  • A brief analysis of the impact of The Turner Diaries on the white nationalist movement. The Diaries is one of the most influential texts of the movement, inspiring both allegiance to a form of white identity and specific and violent actions in accord with it. The Diaries presents many facets for understanding white nationalism, and it is worth consulting Berger’s more substantive analysis, published by the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, The Turner Legacy: The Storied Origins and Enduring Impact of White Nationalism’s Deadly Bible.

Berger, J.M., Extremism (MIT, 2018)

  • Berger’s short book examines a wide range of extremist movements, with ISIS and US white nationalism treated as two somewhat similar generalized forms. A key general finding: “First, formulaic in-group and out-group definitions flesh out identities, and second, a crisis-solution construct prescribes action based on those identity definitions. . . . Extremism refers to the belief that an in-group’s success or survival cannot be separated from the need for hostile action against an out-group.” Berger presents simple structural models of basic modes of extremism and processes through which individuals become engaged.

Berkowitz, Reed, “A Game Designer’s Analysis of QAnon” (Medium, 30 September 2020)

  • Berkowitz’s article explores the QAnon phenomenon’s resonance with psychological response patterns that video game designers count on to make their products absorbing for gamers. Berkowitz writes from the programmer’s standpoint, and his article complements the more purely psychological approach of Molly Sauter’s, “The Apophenic Machine” (also on this list), a pre-QAnon analysis of conspiracy theory appeal.

Bertelsen, Preben, “Danish Preventive Measures and De-radicalization Strategies: The Aarhus Model” (Panorama, January 2015)

  • Communities searching for approaches to address extremist youth recruitment have a model in the ways the small city of Aarhus, Denmark responded to disproportionately high ISIS recruitment by developing a preventative and ameliorative approach. The “Aarhus Model” stresses such features as programs to engage vulnerable youth in supportive group contexts, improved awareness and counseling resources in schools and through the community, and a focus on productive activities, such as jobs that promote a sense of self-fulfillment adequate to forestall intense youth alienation. Bertelson is an academic writing in his second language, so his article is slow going.

Bjork-James, Sophie, “Racializing Misogyny: Sexuality and Gender in the New Online White Nationalism” (Feminist Anthropology 1, 2020, pp. 176–183)

  • A brief academic survey of ways in which the “manosphere” of online male grievance websites and forums has become a recruitment ground for white nationalism. These sites and forums recast challenges to the social dominance of men as an aspect of a larger, planned attack on the white race, one that they see as breaking norms of gender identity, patriarchy, and child-bearing.

Bobin, Jonathan M., “Trolls or Threats? Challenges of Alt-Right Extremism to Local Law Enforcement” (MA Thesis, Naval Postgraduate School, Sept. 2020)

  • Written by an NYC police captain for the stated purpose of informing law enforcement preparedness, this thesis provides useful, well formulated survey of various features of the Alt-Right, including its strategies for recruitment. Bobin stresses the Alt-Right’s structure as a leaderless movement that recruits and grooms followers online. It is particularly useful in presenting a series of case studies of online recruitment that ultimately led to violent outcomes.

Braddock, Kurt, Weaponized Words: The Strategic Role of Persuasion in Violent Radicalization and Counter-Radicalization (Cambridge, 2020)

  • Braddock is a faculty associate at American University’s Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab. His work is an academic analysis of how various strategies of communication are employed by extremists, and what rhetorical and persuasive techniques can best be employed to counter extremism. The book discusses theories of persuasion in detail, but also includes practical models for crafting messages and conversations when attempting either to loosen the grip of extremism on young people or strengthen their resistance to extremist messages before exposure to them. The book’s critical descriptions of existing literature on these and related topics is extensive, but often quite technical. However, Braddock includes accessible narrative sections that describe real-world situations that illustrate the impact of the issues he discusses.

Bridge Initiative, “Factsheet: White Genocide Conspiracy Theory” (Georgetown University, 2020)

  • An overview of the origins and influence of the White Genocide theory. The copious internal links to more detailed and definitive sources makes this a useful introduction to the topic.

Chou, Vivian, “How Science and Genetics Are Reshaping the Race Debate of the 21st Century” (Science in the News, 2017)

  • A highly accessible discussion of the ways in which the study of genetics reveals the inadequacy of common ideas about race. Chou illustrates the way misinformation about genetic science has reinforced arbitrary and mistaken beliefs about human differences that have shaped modern understandings of race and racial identity. Her article is a publication of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Harvard.

Coby, Alex Sassoon, “Former Neo-Nazi Says White Supremacists Use Fortnite to Recruit Kids” (New York Post, 2 July 2018)

  • A brief account of former white nationalist Christian Picciolini’s comments on a Reddit platform presentation he hosted, in which he discussed the role of online video gaming in white nationalist recruitment. The comment strings on Reddit show an interesting range of reactions from an audience that included many gamers.

Condis, Megan, “From Fortnite to Alt-Right” (New York Times, March 27, 2019)

  • A brief analysis of online video gaming sites and white nationalist recruitment by a specialist in video culture. Condis’s concerns about the consequences of failing to view video games as a recruitment site prompted an immediate negative response from Erik Kain in Forbes. Both articles recognize the problem, but differ in their degree of alarm.

Dvorak, Petula, “White Supremacists Are Recruiting White Teens Online. Parents Must Stop Them” (Washington Post, 15 August 2019)

  • Dvorak’s brief op-ed can be read together with those of Joanna Schroeder and Caitlin Gibson, all published in close proximity. Schroeder’s experiences with her 14- and 11- year-old sons’ online engagement with white nationalism prompted all three articles.

Feshami, Kevan A., “Fear of White Genocide: Tracing the History of a Myth from Germany to Charlottesville” (Lapham’s Quarterly, 6 Sept. 2017)

  • A brief account of how the role of anti-Semitism in the nationalistic ideology that inspired the creation of the German state in 1871 has shaped key ideas of American white nationalism.

Gibson, Caitlin, “‘Do You Have White Teenage Sons? Listen Up.’ How White Supremacists Are Recruiting Boys Online.” Washington Post 17 September 2019

  • Gibson’s op-ed complements those of Joanna Schroeder and Paula Dvorak, all published in close proximity. Schroeder’s experiences with her 14 and 11 year-old sons’ online engagement with white nationalism prompted all three articles.

Greene, Viveca S., “Deplorable Satire: Alt-Right Memes, White Genocide Tweets, and Redpilling Normies” (Studies in American Humor 5.1, 2019, pp. 31-69)

  • An in-depth, academic analysis of the edgy humor that has attracted many young people to Alt-Right forms of white nationalism, including descriptions of its distinctive features and evolution. Because of Greene’s emphasis on relating white nationalist uses of humor to academic literature on satire, there is a considerable theoretical component to her analysis.

Greenwalt, Phillip S., “George Washington’s Integrated Army” (American Battlefield Trust, n.d.)

  • A brief account of African-American efforts on behalf of the American Revolution, published by a non-partisan association of amateur historians of US wars. Potentially useful in illustrating to young people who are engaging with white nationalism that some of the movement’s basic assumptions are not reliable.

Haidt, Jonathan, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (Vintage, 2012)

  • Haidt is a social psychologist at New York University. His book was written for a broad audience and is probably best known for the distinctions it draws comparing the basic values most strongly held by liberal and conservative Americans. Chapters 3-5 are most relevant to the issues discussed on this website: they describe normal patterns of opinion and motivation that explain why even seemingly conclusive arguments generally fail to persuade those with deeply held opposing beliefs, particularly when these beliefs have become central to personal identity.

Hawley, George, Making Sense of the Alt-Right (Columbia, 2017)

  • The earliest book to analyze the central features of the Alt-Right, including the features of its core white nationalist agenda. Hawley provides a history of the rise of the Alt-Right, delineates its major ideas and self-presentation, and clarifies its distinction from American conservative thought and politics. Although rapid changes over the years since publication have made certain portions of the book somewhat dated, Hawley’s general analysis remains relevant. It is a very accessible book.

Hawley, George The Alt-Right: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford, 2019)

  • Hawley’s second book on the Alt-Right is a handbook, rather than an in-depth analysis. Its topically organized chapters are framed as answers to Frequently Asked Questions, about 150 in all, Hawley’s responses varying in length from a paragraph to several pages. It is most useful as a reference source for identifying memes, personalities, and key issues.

Hofstadter, Richard, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” (Harper’s Magazine, Nov. 1964)

  • This classic article has been the starting point for much research on what we now call “conspiracy theories” and their role in politics. Hofstadter was a specialist in American history at Columbia University, with particular interest in the cultural features of US political dynamics.

Hogg, Michael, “From Uncertainty to Extremism: Social Categorization and Identity Processes” (Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23.5, 2014, pp. 338-42)

  • A short, academic article explaining “identity-uncertainty theory” and its link to extremist groups. Hogg builds on established work showing that feelings of uncertainty motivate new behavior, He finds that lack of certainty related to personal identity is addressed by identifying as a member of a clearly defined social group, a process that can involve stereotyping oneself, members of the group joined, and others. This dynamic commonly drives extremist groups that offer clear ideology and directive leadership.

Kain, Erik, “From ‘Fortnite’ To Alt-Right: Are White Nationalists Corrupting Our Gaming Youth?” (Forbes, 28 March 2019)

  • Kain’s article is a response to a New York Times op-ed by Megan Condis. Both articles discuss online gaming as a white nationalist recruitment site, but they differ on the degree of alarm that is appropriate. An article several months earlier from Anya Kamenetz covers similar ground.

Kamenetz, Anya, “Right-Wing Hate Groups Are Recruiting Video Gamers” (NPR, Nov. 5, 2018)

  • The account of a Colorado father whose 15-year-old child became engaged in white nationalism through online gaming.

Keeley, Brian L., “Of Conspiracy Theories” (The Journal of Philosophy 96.3, March 1999, 109-126)

  • Keeley is a philosopher of mind and neuroscience. His essay attempts to explain the features of conspiracy theories that indicate they are unwarranted, as opposed to legitimate exercises of skeptical reasoning.

Keierleber, Mark. “How White Extremists Teach Kids to Hate: Alt-Right Groups Use Online Gaming Communities Popular Among Teens to Recruit Culture Warriors” (T74, 27 Jan. 2021)

  • This article examines the use of the gaming platform DLive by white nationalists. It explains way such platforms have become new homes to extremists “de-platformed” by more mainline hosting sites, and the economic rewards sites like Dlive offer. The article explores the social dynamics of recruitment through such sites. Keierleber notes that gaming and other online sites have come to play a role for the Alt-Right that parallels the role that white power music concerts have played in older style forms of white nationalism.

Kimmel, Michael, Healing from Hate: How Young Men Get Into—and Out of—Violent Extremism (University of California Press, 2018)

  • Kimmel is a sociologist at SUNY-Stony Brook. He emphasizes the dominant role of men in the movement and approaches white nationalism through the lens of masculinity and explores the need for many young men to establish a strong gender identity. His book is based on interviews in both Europe and the US with former members who have left the movement, and it is focused on both the process of engagement with extremist groups and paths to deradicalization.

Kitchener, Caroline, “The Women Behind the ‘Alt-Right’” (The Atlantic, August 2017)

  • A journalistic portrait of women who attended the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, with observations about the broader role of women in newer forms of white nationalism.

Kruglanski, Arie W., Jocelyn J. Bélanger and Rohan Gunaratna, The Three Pillars of Radicalization: Needs, Narratives, and Networks (Oxford University Press, 2019)

  • This is a sustained, academic analysis of factors that contribute to radicalization and strategies for deradicalization. The central “Three Pillars” model refers to: (1) psychological and social needs that incline people towards radicalization; (2) ideological frames that support commitments to radicalization; (3) rewards of social membership in a radicalized group. Although the primary data for this study relate to radical Islam, the model applies to radicalization broadly, including white nationalism. Its model of the motivations and rewards that lead to deep engagement in radical movements complements those of J.M. Berger and Christian Picciolini. Although the book is poorly edited, the underlying research is extensive, and the analysis is clear and nuanced.

Lewis, Helen, “To Learn About the Far Right, Start With the ‘Manosphere’” (The Atlantic,  7 August 2019)

  • An overview of the ways in which anti-feminist and misogynistic movements blend with other forms of extremism, particularly Alt-Right white nationalism. Among her observations, Lewis notes that male grievance animating the “Manosphere” (radical anti-feminist men’s rights ideology, spread widely online) overlaps with white nationalist anxiety about falling birthrates among white populations of Europe and America, which they feel is linked to increases in women’s education, professional opportunities, and control over childbearing though birth control decisions.

Madison, James H., The Ku Klux Klan in the Heartland (Indiana University, 2020)

  • Madison, a professor of history at Indiana University, explores the dominance of the KKK in 1920s Indiana, including its strong but short-lived hold on Hoosier politics. Heavily illustrated and easy to read, the book is an historical lesson in the impact that white nationalism can have on society in America when it is able to control political power and commercial influence.

Main, Thomas J., The Rise of the Alt-Right (Brookings, 2018)

  • Main’s book considers the Alt-Right as a political philosophy, focusing on figures who write books and edit online magazines. Historical chapters deal with the evolution of the thought of writers who tend to have canonical status, such as Sam Francis and Michael Levin. The heart of this study is an attempt to clarify (and refute) the assumptions and arguments of leading contemporary white nationalists, such as Jared Taylor, Greg Johnson, Peter Brimelow, and other online journal editors. Topics include profiling Alt-Right views of race and the legitimate American political tradition. Main interviewed many of the Alt-Right figures he discusses, and their views are represented though selected interview transcripts.

Martineau, Paris, “The Alt-Right Is Recruiting Depressed People” (The Outline, 26 February 2018)

  • A brief article describing white nationalist focus on recruiting young men suffering from depression, with particular focus on the interface between misogynist movements, such as the Incels, and white nationalist tactics.

McNevin, Dennis, “White Supremacists Believe in Genetic ‘Purity’. Science Shows No Such Thing Exists” (The Conversation, 27 September 2020)

  • A very brief, journalistic account of the pervasiveness of genetic variation within supposedly homogenous racial groups, written by a geneticist at The University of Technology in Sydney, Australia.

Miller-Idriss, Cynthia, “Extremism Has Spread into the Mainstream” (The Atlantic, 15 June 2021)

  • A brief op-ed noting the rapid spread of extremism online in the US. Miller-Idriss advocates for a shift in government strategy from a national security focus to a public health model that promotes local initiatives to build community resilience in resisting and responding to extremism. The article notes a number of European states that have had successes in similarly broad-based approaches.

Miller-Idriss, Cynthia. Hate in the Homeland: The New Global Right (Princeton, 2020)

  • Miller-Idriss is a sociologist and the director of the Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Laboratory (PERIL) at American University. The major theme of her book is that white nationalist and associated ideologies are increasingly, and by design, becoming mainstreamed into American culture. She discusses this idea in relation to white nationalist-themed food, clothing, music, and sports, and the contemporary shift in the movement from a language of anger to a language of humor, which can appeal to a broader, younger audience, and preserves “deniability” of serious extremist intent. Miller-Idriss surveys the online intellectual structures that provide ideological material to young recruits, and she considers a way to confront the spread of white nationalist youth recruitment that emphasizes broad-scale youth education programs to achieve “herd immunity” against white nationalist messaging.

Munn, Luke, “Alt-Right Pipeline: Individual Journeys to Extremism Online” (First Monday 24.6, 3 June 2019)

  • This article illustrates through examples how online recruitment can lead young people towards extremism in gradual steps, beginning with engaging and familiar YouTube influencers who rely on informal language and edgy humor, and proceeding towards increasingly radical white nationalist ideas. Munn refers to this process as “the alt-right pipeline,” with an online “ecosystem” creating the reinforcing pathways that can gradually normalize extreme ideas and radicalize young people who might otherwise be resistant to them. Munn’s article is a complement to Kevin Roose’s, “The Making of a YouTube Radical.”

National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), “Profiles of Individual Radicalization in the United States—Desistance, Disengagement, and Deradicalization” (2019)

  • START is a research project of the University of Maryland. This brief statistical study of the factors contributing to radicalization and deradicalization among extremists of various types, was funded by the US Dept. of Justice. It finds that among “right-wing extremists,” barriers to socio-economic mobility are a particularly common trigger to radicalization. The study suggests that there are multiple, highly individualized paths towards deradicalization: among them, disillusionment with ideology or group-directed actions, the demands of parenting, and simple burn-out.

Norman, Julie M. and Drew Mikhael, “Youth Radicalization Is on the Rise. Here’s What We Know about Why.” (Washington Post, 25 August 2017)

  • A short, journalistic summary of research on the process of radicalization that indicates that “it is not the ideology itself that resonates, but rather the way in which an ideology provides a conduit for perceived grievances.” Emphasis is on the importance of understanding the process of radicalization, which involves social element beyond ideology.

O’Brien, Luke, “The Making of an American Nazi” (The Atlantic, December 2017)

  • Andrew Anglin, editor of The Daily Stormer website, is one of the most extreme and influential forces of the Alt-Right. O’Brien’s profile offers insights into both Anglin’s thinking and the reasons for his influence. O’Brien notes Anglin’s self-proclaimed reliance on both Mein Kampf and the left-wing community organizer Saul Alinsky, and he explores the way Anglin led the Alt-Right’s exploitation of humor to recruit young men into the movement.

Owen, Tess, “A White Supremacist Is Organizing Fight Clubs Across the US” (Vice, 27 September 2021)

  • A report of the efforts of an expatriate white nationalist leader, Robert Rundo, using social media to promote the establishment of an American network of white nationalist mixed martial arts (MMA) clubs from his Eastern European base. Owen explains Rundo’s role in American extremist networks and the ties he has forged to the white nationalist Patriot Front, as well as to the less explicitly white nationalist Proud Boys.

Picciolini, Christian, Breaking Hate: Confronting the New Culture of Extremism (Hachette, 2020)

  • Picciolini is the most publicly prominent white nationalist “former”: a person who has renounced white nationalism after deep involvement in the movement. Recruited in his early teens into a violent group, Picciolini became its leader and influential as both a representative of militant white nationalism and a composer-performer of white power music. After renouncing white nationalism Picciolini has devoted himself to helping others leave the movement. Breaking Hate recounts the stories of people whom Picciolini has helped extricate from difficult and often dangerous entanglements in white nationalist networks. It is framed by practical theories Picciolini has developed to explain how individuals become vulnerable to white nationalism and to guide processes of deradicalization.

Rider, Sarah, “Tolerating Intolerance” (The Quarterly, Winter 2003), 31-36

  • A community college teacher’s experience with a classroom that included a fully engaged white nationalist student. The account is unusually rich in detail. It clarifies the questions facing the author at each stage, in particular surrounding class discussion of the student’s paper on white nationalist themes, and it balances sensitivity to the racially diverse class members and to the white nationalist student.

Roose, Kevin, “The Making of a YouTube Radical” (New York Times, 8 June 2019)

  • Using a narrative of the online radicalization of a former white nationalist as an anchor, Roose analyzes the way in which white nationalist influencers were able to use YouTube algorithms and policies to expand the reach of their movement and engage a broad range of young people. Roose balances his focus on extremism with discussion of market-based corporate decisions that were not ideologically motivated. Roose’s article is a complement to Luke Munn’s, “Alt-Right Pipeline: Individual Journeys to Extremism Online.”

Saini, Angela, Superior: The Return of Race Science (Beacon Press, 2020)

  • Saini is a science journalist. Her book focuses on the ways in which white nationalism provides an ideological framework and financial support for advocacy of “race science”: publications that claim races differ in key human traits: most significantly, intelligence. Superior includes narratives of historical and current scientific trends, but it is built around interviews, both with those promoting race science and scientists whose work disputes its findings. Saini highlights the lack of scientific consensus on what constitutes “race,” and how common it is that broad distinctions initially attributed to genetic racial distinctions come to be more successfully accounted for by cultural or economic factors. Familiarity with this background may be helpful in stimulating reflection among those who have accepted white nationalist accounts of race.

Sauter, Molly, “The Apophenic Machine” (Real Life, 15 May 2017)

  • “Apophenia” is the shared human psychological tendency to see patterns in things when none actually exists (like seeing animal shapes in clouds). It is one reason why conspiracy theories are popular and convincing. Sauter’s article is a journalistic exploration of how the structure of the Internet amplifies this natural direction of thought and has fueled the growth of conspiracy theories, such as those underlying white nationalism.

Schatz, Bryan, “The Terrifying Rise of Alt-Right Fight Clubs” (Mother Jones, 1 February 2018)

  • Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has become a trend within the white nationalist movement, and some gyms where young people train for its matches have become sites for white nationalist recruitment. Schatz’s article traces the association of MMA with white nationalism from European roots to its spread in America, initially through the violent California-based Rise Above Movement.

Schoenberg, Nara, “OK Sign Is Under Siege: How the Squeaky-Clean Hand Gesture Was Twisted by Trolls and Acquired Racist Undertones” (Chicago Tribune, 30 May 2019)

  • In 2017, posters on the Alt-Right site 4chan plotted to spread a false rumor that the traditional OK hand sign had become a sign for “white power.” The idea was to mock liberals who reported the rumor as fact, an example of trolling. The plan worked, but a side effect was that white nationalists actually did begin to use the gesture as a white power signal, creating a confusion that persists.

Schroeder, Joanna, “Racists Are Recruiting. Watch Your White Sons” (New York Times, 13 October 2019, Sec. SR, p. 10)

Sedgwick, Mark, Key Thinkers of the Radical Right: Behind the New Threat to Liberal Democracy (Oxford, 2019)

  •  An edited volume that includes chapters profiling influential figures from the early 20th century to the present day. Particularly useful chapters are devoted to Jared Taylor, editor of American Renaissance (written by Russell Nieli), Greg Johnson, editor of Counter-Currents (by Graham Macklin), and Richard Spencer, the early leader of the Alt-Right (by Tamir Bar-On). But the broad scope of the volume adds important historical context.

Somos, Christy, “Dismantling the ‘Alt-Right Playbook’: YouTuber Explains How Online Radicalization Works” (CTV News, 25 October 2019)

  • A summary of the work of Ian Danskin, whose YouTube videos focus on how the Alt-Right recruits online. The key methods Danskin has identified include: identifying an audience that may be receptive to recruitment; presenting an online community more engaging than the audience’s existing community; isolating audience members from their prior community; and gradually raising their levels of radicalization. Somos’s summary of Danskin’s work complements articles such as Luke Munn’s, “Alt-Right Pipeline: Individual Journeys to Extremism Online.”

Soufan Center, “White Supremacy Extremism: The Transnational Rise of the Violent White Supremacist Movement” (2019)

  • The Soufan Center focuses on international extremism, and the scope of this report is broad, linking American white nationalism with movements abroad, including significant overlap in recruitment dynamics with European Islamist extremism. The report discusses factors not often analyzed elsewhere, such as the sources and scale of movement finances. Although the chief concern is on responding to and preventing extremist violence, the transnational connections extend to influences in the areas of ideas and political strategies as well.

Southern Poverty Law Center, “Extremists Are Cashing in on a Youth-Targeted Gaming Website” (November 2020)

  • After being deplatformed from more conventional social media sites in 2020, several young members of the Alt-Right moved their webcasts to the gaming platform DLive. This article finds that the contribution protocol on DLive led to these white nationalists generating far more income on the site than any other vloggers, earning as much as $60K over a seven-month period.

Southern Poverty Law Center, “Fashwave, the Electronic Music of the Alt-Right, is Just More Hateful Subterfuge” (2017); SPLC, “Hate Music” (2020); “Suspect in Church Burnings Influenced by ‘Black Metal’ Music, Police Say, But Not All Black Metal is the Same” (2019)

  • The SPLC keeps a closer watch on the white nationalist music scene than most other organizations. These three articles focus on different aspects of movement music. Fashwave is synthesizer-based music that adopts white nationalist titles and lyrics. The SPLC article discusses its brief history and notes that the role of traditional rock style in white power music is fading. The news story on black metal music shows the impact of music on radical action, but it cautions that most black metal is not the National Socialist Black Metal (NSBM) that expresses white nationalist ideas. The 2020 includes a recent list of white nationalist CD producers.

Southern Poverty Law Center, “White Sharia and Militant White Nationalism” (2017)

  • A brief account of the development of a white nationalist meme celebrating the extreme patriarchy of Islam as a model for a white ethnostate in the US, an idea promoted by The Daily Stormer website.

Stephens-Davidowitz, Seth, “The Data of Hate” (New York Times, 12 July 2014)

  • Stephens-Davidowitz mines publicly available internet data. In this article, he analyzes characteristics of participants in the Stormfront white nationalist website. His findings include the fact that the most common age among registered site contributors is 19.

Tanner, Charles and Devin Burghart, “From Alt-Right to Groyper: White Nationalists Rebrand for 2020 and Beyond” (Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights, 2020)

  • A detailed and closely documented study of intra-movement dynamics in white nationalism through early 2020. The article describes the emerging tensions and alliances among groups led by young people vying for influence within broadly conservative politics, including both explicitly white nationalist groups, such as the (now defunct) American Identity Movement, the America First “Groypers,” and more traditional conservative youth groups, such as Turning Point USA. The detail of the report clarifies many aspects of the events it discusses, but is no longer current.

Uscinski, Joseph E., Conspiracy Theories: A Primer (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020)

  • A compact and conscientiously balanced review of the structure of conspiracy theories and their pervasiveness in contemporary America, regardless of political orientation. Uscinski defines terms carefully and establishes the universal tendency to engage with theories that involve conspiracy elements. He discusses what makes individuals particularly vulnerable to these beliefs, and the role the Internet plays in their dissemination (which he concludes is less determinative than usually believed).

Van den Bos, Kees, Why People Radicalize: How Unfairness Judgments Are Used to Fuel Radical Beliefs, Extremist Behaviors, and Terrorism (Oxford, 2018)

  • Van den Bos, an academic based in the Netherlands, analyzes radicalization across a political range, including on the Left and Right, as well as Islamic radicalization. He identifies distinctive and common features across political orientation, personality types, intelligence, and so forth. He finds a common triggering feature of all forms of radicalization to be perceived injustice and a feeling of relative deprivation: that is, a sense of grievance. The style of the book is highly academic, and problems of writing and editing may make it challenging reading.

Walker, Francis A., “Restriction of Immigration” (The Atlantic, June 1896)

  • This article can be used as a teaching tool to illustrate that the concept of a unified white race has been only recently constructed in the US. Francis Walker was the long-time president of MIT. In this article, which was directed toward an earlier Anglo-Saxon/Germanic majority population, Walker uses many arguments that continue to be used by today’s white nationalists. But he wrote before the definition of “white race” was extended to appeal to America’s broad range of European immigrants, and he advocates for excluding from the US “ignorant and brutalized peasantry from the countries of eastern and southern Europe,” who are not “descended from the tribes that met under the oak-trees of old Germany to make laws and choose chieftains,” for the purpose of “protecting the American rate of wages, the American standard of living, and the quality of American citizenship from degradation.”

Ward, Eric, “Anti-Semitism at the Core of White Nationalism” (Jerusalem Post, 31 March 2018)

  • Ward is a Black man who, as an observer, has found himself welcomed at white nationalist gatherings as a potential ally against a “common enemy”: Jews. His argument is that anti-Semitism is not a bias added on to white nationalism, but is actually a core element. (Ward has written in a more personal vein in “Skin in the Game: How Antisemitism Animates White Nationalism.”)

Wilson, Chris, “Nostalgia, Entitlement and Victimhood: The Synergy of White Genocide and Misogyny” (Terrorism and Political Violence, pub. online, November 2020)

  • An accessible academic analysis of the role misogyny plays in white nationalist ideology. Wilson’s focus is on how the sense of grievance that fuels male-dominated white nationalism is related to the loss of both unquestioned racial dominance and male dominance. The article examines the stated motives of a series of white nationalist men who have committed mass murders and stresses their common belief in White Genocide and the need to ensure that white women restore traditional birthrates.

PRACTICAL GUIDES & HANDBOOKS

Collins, Cory and Kate Shuster, Learning the Landscape of Digital Literacy (SPLC, “Teaching Tolerance,” 2017)

  • Created as a guide for teachers, this ten-page handbook provides a quick overview of basic themes that can help prepare young people to recognize online encounters designed to manipulate them in various ways. The guide covers issues of online security, scams, misinformation, as well as radical ideology and recruitment.

Facing History and Ourselves, “Explainer: White Nationalism” (2021)

  • A four-page overview of issues prepared by the non-profit group, Facing History and Ourselves, intended for use by teachers.

Life After Hate, “What to Do When a Loved One Sides With White Supremacists” (2020)

  • Life After Hate is a group founded by “formers”: people who have been deeply engaged and left the movement (see the note on “Healing from Hate” in the Videos section below). This brief guide focuses on frameworks for helping young family members who have become deeply engaged with white nationalism or other forms of extremism. It discusses the need to listen carefully to understand what unmet needs have led a young person to extremism; to avoid argument, which can reinforce extremist views; to convey love and focus on the whole person, not just extremist elements; and to keep the door open.

Not in Our Town, “School Response to Bullying, Intolerance, and Hate” (n.d.)

  • A web-based resource that brings together links to many web and pdf guides, and includes numerous videos. The mission is to help school administrators, teachers, and students address the problem of school bullying broadly, including bias incidents that may be related to white nationalism and impact school climate. The site includes many detailed accounts of successful approaches schools have taken, and it discusses ways in which students can be engaged in or lead responses.

Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab (PERIL) and Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Building Resilience & Confronting Risk in the Covid-19 Era: A Parents & Caregivers Guide to Online Radicalization (2020)

  • A compact guide for parents that focuses on the nature of online white nationalism, risk factors for engagement, recognizing signs, how to talk to kids about it, and how to seek help. The guide also lays out general directions for building resistance in young people so they are less likely to be misled by online influences.

SPLC, “Speak Up at School: How to Respond to Everyday Prejudice, Bias and Stereotypes” (Teaching Tolerance, 2018)

  • This guide is designed to help teachers prepare to intervene and respond to biased behavior encountered at school. It encourages teachers to interrupt such behavior and to learn how to use their authority constructively to resolve incidents and change negative patterns. The handbook considers how to approach situations with colleagues, administrators, and parents as well.

Tuck, Henry and Tanya Silverman, The Counter-Narrative Handbook (Institute for Strategic Dialogue, 2016)

  • A guide to designing online resources that can promote deradicalization. Although the Handbook is generally technical, it offers lessons on productive and counter-productive strategies in addressing young people who have become engaged in extremist movements such as white nationalism.

Western States Center, Confronting White Nationalism in Schools: A Toolkit (2nd ed., 2019)

  • The WSC Toolkit is designed to provide guidance to students, teachers, school administrators, and parents about how to recognize and respond to white nationalism in a school context. It includes specific recommendations for each of these groups in a variety of incident scenarios, as well as recommendations for protocols and best practices that can raise a school’s resistance to white nationalist influence. The Toolkit also includes brief discussions of the nature of white nationalism, and its core elements of anti-Semitism and misogyny.

DOCUMENTARY VIDEOS

Healing from Hate (Peter Hutchison, Media Education Foundation, 2020) [84 min.]

  • Healing from Hate tracks the work of a group of former white nationalists who founded “Life After Hate,” an organization whose mission is to assist people who want to extricate themselves from the movement. The documentary shows interactions between the “formers” and those they seek to help, along with their own commentary and occasional discussion by outside analysts. The focus is on skinhead-style white nationalism, but includes some consideration of the Alt-Right, including interactions with Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor. Healing from Hate pairs well with the book Breaking Hate, written by one of the founders of Life After Hate, Christian Picciolini. (The movie shares a title with a related book by Michael Kimmel, who is interviewed at several points in the documentary.) The film is well produced, the content is current as of 2020, and the stories of the formers and those they help are moving. A trailer can be viewed online, and a full transcript is available. Its particular strengths are the insight it offers into the processes of radicalization and deradicalization, and its treatment of individuals caught in white nationalism as complex people, rather than as caricatures.

Shadow of Hate: A History of Intolerance in America (Charles Guggenheim, 1995) [40 min.]

  • A narrative account that focuses on a series of representative instances of violent intolerance in US history, particularly race-based examples. The opening portions of the film deal with early persecution of Quakers and Baptists, and mid-19th century prejudice against groups now considered “white,” such as the Irish and other Catholics. Longer sections feature the massacre of Native Americans at Wounded Knee (1890), violence against Chinese railway workers, anti-Semitic violence, represented by the lynching of Leo Frank (1915), internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II, anti-Hispanic prejudice, represented by the refusal to bury a Mexican-American soldier, Felix Longoria, in a Texas cemetery, and the lynching of Black people in the American South. The film relies on documentary footage and photographs, and is governed by a script, read by Julian Bond and others. Produced in 1995, the film does not reflect contemporary events, but it ends with glimpses of racial intolerance represented by white nationalist David Duke and black nationalist Louis Farrakhan, both of whom remain active as of 2021.

White Noise: Inside the Racist Right (Daniel Lombroso, The Atlantic, 2020) [94 min.]

  • White Noise focuses on the white nationalist Alt-Right, and follows three of its leading figures–Richard Spencer, Mike Cernovich, and Lauren Southern–over the course of three years. Given exceptional access, Lombroso provides complex portraits. All three figures are given ample space to convey their ideas and their feelings, including expressions of doubt and disillusionment, generally revealing a mixture of true belief and opportunism, self-importance and insecurity. The logic and editing of the film make clear that it views white nationalism as a abhorrent movement, but its interest lies in revealing this without reducing its subjects to caricatures, maintaining viewers’ awareness of their humanity.

White Right: Meeting the Enemy (Deeyah Khan, Fuuse Films, 2017) [55 min.]

  • Deeyah Khan is a Muslim who grew up in Europe and is a citizen of the UK. After an appearance on British television she was bombarded with hate mail from white nationalists and decided to learn more about the people in the US who had sent it. White Right shows her personal interactions with individual members of the skinhead National Socialist Movement (NSM: explicitly neo-Nazi) and the intellectual Alt-Right (including Jared Taylor and Richard Spencer). She attended the Unite the Right rally embedded as a reporter with the NSM. Her method is to personalize her contact with the people she interviews and then to test their adherence to race stereotypes and ideology in the face of the rapport she has established. The result exposes the personal vulnerability of some of the individual white nationalists featured, and how non-confrontational contact with people they have stereotyped and demonized can be transformative. For example, one NSM activist decides to stop harassing Muslims after getting to know Khan (in later interviews, Khan reports that he ultimately left the movement), and, in a postscript filmed in England, the PR director of the NSM calls to tell her he has stepped down from his post because of her influence.