Anti-Social: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians and the Hijacking of the American Conversation
Antisocial is an extension of the reporting Marantz did for the New Yorker, both before and after the election on the rise of clickbait websites and alt-right trolls. Some of this will be familiar ground to those who read the earlier articles, but there is more than enough new material here, and new insights to make this worth your while if you’re interested in how certain less savory corners of the internet work.
Marantz is a great journalist, who doesn’t shy away from the tricky questions that arise when you’re profiling some pretty unappealing people. If you’re humanizing an racist, anti-Semitic asshole like Mike Enoch, who is playing who? Marantz is forthcoming in the complexities of these relationships and if you follow this world at all, perhaps the most interesting insights here are into how figures like Enoch, Cernovich and others interact when an honest to goodness report is on the phone.
Perhaps in a year this will all feel very old, but for now, this is a book worth reading if you care about the conversation in this country and where “the narrative” is going.
The Silent Brotherhood: The Chilling Inside Story of America’s Violent, Anti-Government Militia Movement
The first on the scene book about the “the Order”, a white supremacist criminal gang that robbed banks to fund the white power movement and was involved in the assassination of liberal radio DJ Alan Berg. Told is a kinda trashy style, the book is still a very useful look into the formation of a relatively successful (though eventually doomed) white supremacist criminal cell.
Founded by Robert Jay Matthews at his rural Washington state farm, the group existed for approximately three years, before being taken down with the use of a government witness. All its known members are now in jail or dead. In the time that it was functioning, the Order raised millions of dollars for white supremacist organizations, and killed at least one man. While white power organizing has become much more sophisticated since the days of a group of men plotting shit in a barn, this book features many of the same themes (and some of the same people) as we see today.
Recommended for those interested in understanding the enemy.
* aka “Silent Brotherhood” or the “Bruder Schweign”.
Blood In The Face: Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, Nazi Skinheads and the Rise of New White Culture
Published in 1995 (the year of the Oklahoma City Bombing), Ridgeway’s Blood in the Face was, was the first serious book I read on the rise of post-war neo-Nazi formations like Aryan Nations and Skinhead subculture. While the book begins by tracing the history of the KKK, it’s real worth, I think, is in the serious reporting Ridgeway put into tracing the formation of Aryan Nations, Posse Comitas, and the various amorphous nazi-skinhead groups which plagued the punk rock scene of my youth.
Much of what we see today in terms of the racist and anti-semitic tropes of the so called “alt-right” had their beginnings in these groups. You can see a clear through line from the simplistic hate literature Ridgeway reproduces here to the pepe the frog gas chamber meme’s of today’s alt-right twitter. While others have covered this ground since, Ridgeway was there first and his book remains essential reading for anyone interested in understanding postwar neo Nazism in America.