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A Chicago rally of the Ku Klux Klan in the early 1920s (Underwood & Underwood, Library of Congress, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Interchange – The Same Old Hate: The Reactionary Right Rides Again


A mass of torches in the darkness reveal faces full of rage — white, (mostly male) faces. Public violence and intimidation unmasking raw hateful prejudice and resurgent white supremacy. Is this the deep south of the 1920’s? No, it happened in a college town last weekend: Charlottesville, Virginia.

Our show is about the Reactionary Right in the United States of America; a country growing more and more divided each day under the still unbelievable reality of a Donald Trump Presidency.

Last week we spoke with Nancy MacLean about her book Democracy in Chains about the ways the wealthiest among us are financing efforts on every level to undermine any semblance of democracy this country might still claim to have.

Today, we confront the boots on the ground with political scientist and author, Christopher Sebastian Parker, who, along with his research partner Matt Baretto, has demonstrated just how pervasive and easily called into daylight the Reactionary Right is. In Change They Can’t Believe In: The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in Contemporary America (Princeton, 2013), Parker and Baretto study the ostensibly “libertarian” movement to reveal its motivations are not about the economy, stupid…. It’s racism. And Parker sees the same thing behind the supposed “economic anxiety” of trump’s most ardent supporters–overwhelmingly white, middle class, middle aged, heterosexual, Christian men.

From the inception of the second Klan in 1915 through to the John Birch Society in the late 1950’s (recall that Charles Koch, like his daddy Fred, was a member) and forward to its current cover organization, The Tea Party, the Reactionary Right only sees the “real America” belonging to white Christians, and the Kochs of the world have fanned this flame of hate for decades.

In our (quite upbeat) conversation (given such a grim topic — it was recorded two weeks ago) Parker shows how racial retrenchment has recurred every time people of color make a step forward, from returning black World War 1 veterans demanding the rights of citizenship to the first black man in the white house — “the Obama effect” that stirred old hatreds anew in the form of Tea Party rage.

I asked Parker via email for his thoughts on the violent demonstration in Charlottesville.commented via email:

This is just an extension of the Tea Party’s “take our country back” campaign… Trump played on this with his motto: make America Great Again. In both cases, the suggestion is that something’s wrong with America Now, and the “real America” needs to be recovered for “real” americans. Sadly, Trump’s unleashed the beast, and it wont change anytime soon.

Christopher Sebastian Parker is Stuart A. Scheingold Professor of Social Justice and Political Science in the Department of Political Science at the University of Washington. His books are Change They Can’t Believe In: The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in Contemporary America, with Matt Baretto (Princeton 2013); and Fighting for Democracy: Black Veterans and the Struggle Against White Supremacy in the Postwar South (Princeton 2009). He can be found on Twitter: @blackbruin.

UW professor got it right on Trump. So why is he being ignored? (The Seattle Times)
Democrats’ “Better Deal” is a bum deal for progressives — and won’t win elections (an interview with Parker in Salon)
The real reason Trump won: White fright by Christopher Sebastian Parker (The Conversation)
Race and Politics in the Age of Obama (Annual Review of Sociology)

Gil Scott-Heron
“The Klan”
“The King Alfred Plan”
“Winter in America”
“A Sign of the Ages”
“Shut ‘em Down”

Producer & Host: Doug Storm
Assistant Producer: Rob Schoon
Board Engineer: Bryce Martin
Executive Producer: Wes Martin

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