Whether you want to call this white nationalist extremism, or a specifically American, twenty-first century version of fascism - the answer is to raise the alarm. Don’t get bogged down in a debate over semantics and concepts.

Pay attention. Because this is what’s coming.
I maintain that we should be judicious in our use of the term “fascism” - not because what’s happening isn’t bad / dangerous enough to merit the label (it absolutely is!), but because it sometimes comes with the implication that Trumpism is an aberration in U.S. history.
In the thread below, I outlined the reasons why I think we need to be careful not to let the term fascism distract us from the fact that Trumpism is deeply rooted in longstanding American traditions and continuities of racism and white Christian nationalism.
We must not separate Trump from the continuum of American history - specifically the long-standing anti-democratic, authoritarian impulses on the Right. A white reactionary counter-mobilization against racial and social progress: That’s the norm in U.S. history.
But: From an analytical perspective, this year, in particular, has certainly made the idea that Trumpism is a specifically American, 21st-century version of fascism a lot more plausible - and we urgently need to explore the fascist tendencies and traditions on the American Right.

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More from @tzimmer_history

10 Nov
This captures the narrative that is animating the moderate / liberal turn against “wokeism,” but doesn’t hold up empirically: It is based on an implausible analysis of the political situation and a misleading perspective on racial conflict in American history. Some thoughts: 1/
Let’s start with the category error that is shared by lots of moderates and liberals: The assumption is that all the *talk about racism* is what irks many White people – when it’s actually the attempt to *dismantle racist structures and narratives* to which they object. 2/
The difference matters greatly: If it were just the supposedly incessant *talk* about racism, we could plausibly devise a strategy of appeasing White / reactionary sensibilities by *not talking* about it while still pursuing the project of realizing multiracial democracy. 3/
Read 19 tweets
8 Nov
From the reactions we’ve witnessed since the VA election, it’s clear that there are a lot of White folks out there who consider themselves Democrats/Liberals and are all too willing to go along with scapegoating and demonizing Black intellectuals if it promises electoral success.
I want to reflect in detail on a reaction that I have personally gotten to the tweet below. I believe it is emblematic of a widespread - and rapidly spreading - attitude among White Liberals and seems to be quickly gaining the upper hand (again) within the Democratic Party.
Here is the reply I would like to dissect. It is from someone with a fairly big Twitter following, someone I’m sure won’t be happy about being called out (I have purposefully blacked out all individual information as I want neither abuse nor attention coming their way).
Read 26 tweets
8 Nov
A look back at the “political correctness” hysteria of the early 90s really reveals so much about what these recurring rightwing moral panics are all about, and why we need to look past whatever the reactionary outrage du jour is and focus on the underlying political conflict.
I tried to get into that in this thread here, outlining that what these debates are actually about is power, status, and respect (who gets / deserves it, and who doesn’t).
I specifically made the comparison to the “pc” crusade of the early 90s, trying to situate the current “wokeism” and “CRT” moral panics within that longer-term context. Calling something “pc” was an attempt to discredit the claims of traditionally marginalized groups for respect.
Read 5 tweets
7 Nov
This is what a free speech crisis on campus actually looks like: A Black scholar being targeted by a coordinated online harassment campaign because of his immensely important work and public voice, and @Stanford just standing by. @hakeemjefferson deserves so much better.
Allow me to add something personal: I received some pretty disturbing online abuse this week - someone fantasizing about “silencing” me, and someone else gleefully suggesting “the Khashoggi method.” Stuff of that quality is rare for me - but it certainly is draining.
I’m only mentioning it because I know the abuse I’m getting is absolutely nothing, either in kind or in quantity, compared to what others who are not shielded by the fact that they are white men have to deal with on a regular basis, just because they insist on not being silenced.
Read 6 tweets
6 Nov
Aren’t we all glad that all these concerned parents are standing up to these mean Critical Race Theorists and their Un-American liberal enablers who want to taint and destroy that beautiful history.
In case anyone thinks this type of “history” is passé: At a reception at the German Historical Institute in DC in November 2018, a middle-aged man from Virginia explained to me that slavery couldn’t have been so bad, seeing that people d always take care of their property.
Read 5 tweets
5 Nov
Excellent dissection of the way rightwing panics work and why it’s difficult to counter them effectively. I suggest we need to focus not on refuting specific claims, which never works with bad-faith actors, but on highlighting the reactionary political project behind them.
Instead of playing defense by trying to intercept every accusation rightwingers fire off (No, that’s not what CRT is! No, it’s not actually taught at school!), what does shifting the focus to analyzing these rightwing moral panics as political projects look like?
It means, first of all, we should focus on the people behind this reactionary crusade, and the forces associated with this project - starting with the rightwing activist who has been loudly and proudly telling the world for months why and how he got the CRT panic going.
Read 13 tweets

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