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Interviews offer unprecedented look into the world and words of the new white nationalism

Apr. 11, 2003, 12:39 PM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Carol M. Swain, professor of law and political science at Vanderbilt University, says it’s time for political and religious leaders in America to wake up to the notion that white nationalism is “seeking to go mainstream’ and to take the threats the movement poses seriously.

In the just published book Contemporary Voices of White Nationalism in America (Cambridge University Press), Swain and co-editor Russell K. Nieli, a lecturer in politics at Princeton University, present the transcripts of alarmingly candid interviews with 10 prominent white nationalists.

The interviews were conducted as part of Swain’s research for this book’s companion, The New White Nationalism in America: Its Challenges to Integration (Cambridge University Press, 2002). They present a rare look inside the white nationalist movement, as told in the words of the movement’s leaders.

"Most people will be shocked by these interviews,” Swain said. “Anyone who takes the time to read this book carefully will gain important insights into the contemporary world of white protest, white nationalism and white pride, which seems to be expanding its influence in America at an alarming rate. Even the most distasteful and, from our viewpoint, immoral policy standpoints offer insights into the nature and complexity of American race relations,” she said.

Swain and Nieli argue in their extensive opening essay that “over the past 10 years, with ever increasing strength, a new white pride, white protest and white consciousness movement has developed in America, whose potential for growth and heightened influence throughout America’s European population, we think, is considerable.”

Fueled by continued white resentment over Affirmative Action, liberal immigration laws and a perceived double standard in the way interracial crime is reported, white nationalism has the potential to become an increasingly disruptive force in American politics and society over the coming decades, they say.

“If current trends continue,” the editors predict, “white nationalist ideas will become ever more popular, especially as whites become a diminishing portion of the U.S. population.”

Swain and Nieli call for the claims of white nationalists to be aired in more open public forums, where they can be vigorously challenged and subjected to honest evaluation and refutation. This is just what they’ve done with Contemporary Voices of White Nationalism in America.

“While probing questions—and in some cases unsettling or embarrassing questions—were often posed to respondents, the purpose of the interviews, as was made clear to each of the participants from the outset, was not to debate or condemn those interviewed but to give them the opportunity to state their particular views on controversial racial topics honestly, openly and in their own words,” the editors state in their introduction to the book.

The 10 white nationalists are “situated somewhere between the mainstream right of American conservatism and the older racist right of organizations like the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party.” The editors characterize the 10 as “energetic, articulate and skilled in the use of the Internet,” one of their primary communication vehicles.

Swain and Nieli organized the interviews, conducted in late 1999 and early 2000, into three categories by ideology:

·Those who see themselves as defenders of the legitimate civil rights of white people against what they allege are a host of racial double standards that work to the detriment of whites;

·Separationists, who conclude that America has become a country of at least two or three distinct nationalities (black, white, Hispanic), and that the interests of each of these groups would be better served if each had a separate nation-state of its own; and

·Supremacists, who agree with most of the separationists’ arguments, but graft onto that a Social Darwinian and white supremacist ideology that draws much of its inspiration from the German Nazi movement of the 1930s.

More information on the law school can be found at www.vanderbilt.edu/law.

Media contact: Susanne Loftis, 615-322-NEWS, susanne.loftis@vanderbilt.edu

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