Ever wonder how white nationalism got so out of control in the United States? Well, does Vegas Tenold have a story for you.
Tenold, the author of Everything You Love Will Burn: Inside the Rebirth of White Nationalism in America, spent years getting to know white nationalists, also known as right wing radical groups, or the alt right, or white supremacists (basically, real assholes no matter what you call them) and tries to explain exactly how these abhorrent, nutter views have become so mainstream the American president shares their views.
Tenold writes: “I’ve tried to write a book that explains the resurgence of right wing radical groups that, as of this moment, seem only to be growing more confident and exuberant by the day… It’s about those who march in the streets, whose beliefs are rooted in the flotsam of decades of American racism, anti-Semitism, and white supremacy.”
I mean, I read it, and I still can only conclude that white nationalists are uneducated, crazy people. Why, WHY are these idiots still blaming Jewish people for everything?
Tenold is not on team white supremacy, even if he is a veering towards middle aged white dude with a shaved head. Someone threw a brick at his head once, while he was reporting on a white supremacists rally, and he understands how the protesters could have been confused.
The book is mostly about Matthew Heimbach of the Traditionalist Workers Party, Jeff Schoep of the National Socialist Movement, and Dan Elmquist of the KKK. These three organizations make up the three major strains of American racism, although there are others. Basically, all these guys (I’m sure there are some women too) believe the white race (not a thing, by the way) is under siege by the progress societal blacks, Latinos, LGBTQs, Muslims, Jews and immigrants are making. They view progress as a zero-sum game. Which, of course, it’s not.
The title of the books comes from a text Tenold got from Heimbach after it became clear Trump was going to win the election: “Wisconsin goes to Trump! Everything you love will burn! LOL (smiley face).”
I’m not going to lie. This is an upsetting book. The viewpoints in it are upsetting. They’re also mind boggling. Some of these dudes believe that white babies are being “butchered by the Jewish abortion mongers.” They really believe there is a conspiracy. In the face of all evidence, they believe. Some of them claim not to be racist at all: they just believe the races are not capable of getting along so they shouldn’t mix and that white people should just have a country of their own. Their theory is “No immigration, no race mixing.”
This book is not about love: it’s about hate, fear and rhetoric and how they are such powerful tools in the wrong hands.
There is a tiny sliver of good news. Despite the racket these idiots and the president make, their actual number, as far as Tenold can account for, are a tiny sliver of the population. Racist leaders invite Tenold to rallies and fewer than a 100 people show up. The groups splinter and fight amongst themselves. Despite claims of secret cells all over the country, Tenold finds no evidence of anything except disorganization. There’s no doubt that a handful of racists with guns can do a lot of damage. But I can’t help but hope there are more people willing to stand for progress instead.