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Leonard Zeskind is the author of Blood and Politics: The History of White Nationalism from the Margins to the Mainstream, published by Farrar Straus & Giroux in 2009. He has written for The American Prospect, Rolling Stone, The Nation, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications in the United States. He has also written book chapters and research monographs as well as for anti-racist publications in Germany and Sweden and for the British anti-fascist monthly Searchlight, published from London.
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation named him a Fellow in 1998 (one of its so-called “Genius Grants”). He has testified before a Parliamentary Subcommittee in the United Kingdom, given public lectures at universities in London and Berlin, and worked for three decades to curb the influence of racism, anti-Semitism and white supremacist groups in the United States.
Prior to 1982, he was a community activist and worked in industry for thirteen years: on an automobile assembly line, installing refrigerator motors in vending machines, and as a welder and first class fitter in steel fabrication plants. He is president of the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights.
SPEECHESNeither Dinosaurs nor Neanderthals:
How white nationalism is misunderstood: The common sense paradigm by which polite society understands white supremacists is wrong. They are not usually clinically paranoid, under-educated or economically distressed. They come from among all classes of white people: blue collar bigots, middle class salesmen, university professors, and lawyers and other professionals. They are motivated by an ideology which reifies race (and religion), and through this prism they see the entire world, not just their own particular neighborhoods. The conventional wisdom is not only wrong as a matter of sociological fact, but is also harmful, in that misunderstanding the nature of the white nationalism is often the first step towards an off-hand dismissal of the danger they pose. This talk can be geared particularly to college and university audiences.The Racist Poison inside the Immigration Reform Debate:
From Minuteman outposts on the Mexican border to polished think tanks with constituencies inside the Washington, D.C. beltway, an angry anti-immigrant movement stands in the way of a humane settlement of border reform issues. The origins of the contemporary anti-immigrant movement lie in the 1994 Proposition 187 election in California and Pat Buchanan’s 1992 and 1996 Republican presidential primaries campaigns. In the years that have followed, white nationalism has informed this movement as it has grown larger and taken root. They continually attack the Fourteenth Amendment with legislative proposals now in Congress that would supposedly end “birthright” citizenship. Negative attitudes towards new immigrants are rooted more in ideas about race, culture and national identity and owe less to an individual’s level of economic distress. Anti-Semitism: It’s not about Jews:
It matters little whether Jews are as rich as Rothschild in Frankfurt, or poor as a schneider in Vilna, whether they are Democratic social workers campaigning for an increase in federal aid, or Republican cost-cutters eager to shred the social safety net, whether they are Israeli settlers on Palestinian land or peace activists protesting their government’s policy of bombing in Gaza, anti-Semitism, in the final analysis, is not about what Jews do or do not do. It is a worldview. It is not rational. It may not be self-consciously held. It may not explain everything. But it is an “ism,” an ideology by which individuals and groups understand their social (and oftentimes religious) universe. Holocaust denial and re-writing the history of World War II, for example, is intended to create the political conditions for the resurgence of white supremacy and anti-Semitism.The Trans-Atlantic Trade in Racism and Anti-Semitism:
David Duke, the former Klansman, spent time with Russian nationalists in Moscow and received an honorary degree from a university in Kiev. Skinhead white power bands from the United States play in Germany and the European continent and vice versa. Leaders of the French Front National and the British National Party meet with their counterparts on this side of the Atlantic. And bank robbing Aryans sitting in American prison became iconic folk heroes for national socialists in Sweden. The collaboration between white nationalists in North American and Europe is both widespread and eye-opening, destroying any false myths about parochialism inside these movements.The White Nationalist Response to the Election of President Barack Obama:
The election of Barack Obama has prompted concerns about an immediate and violent backlash by angry racists. Actually, this movement, born in the late 1970s, has been predicated since the beginning on the notion of white dispossession. Long before Americans elected a black president, a stratum of the populations has believed that all forms of government are in the hands of their racial enemies. Some called it a “Zionist Occupied Government.” Ideas of an all-white nation state are rooted in older forms of American national identity, but have been re-invented for the 21st century.
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