Bringing the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America

Colloquium | October 4 | 4-5:30 p.m. | 2538 Channing (Inst. for the Study of Societal Issues), Wildavsky Conference Room

 Kathleen Belew, Assistant Professor, Kathleen Belew, Assistant Professor of History and the College, University of Chicago

 Center for Right-Wing Studies, Department of Sociology, Department of History

The white power movement in America wants a revolution. It has declared all-out war against the federal government and its agents, and has carried out—with military precision—an escalating campaign of terror against the American public. Its soldiers are not lone wolves but are highly organized cadres motivated by a coherent and deeply troubling worldview of white supremacy, anticommunism, and apocalypse. In this talk, based on her new book, Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America, Kathleen Belew presents a history of the movement that consolidated in the 1970s and 1980s around a potent sense of betrayal in the Vietnam War and made tragic headlines in the 1995 bombing of Oklahoma City.

Belew’s disturbing history reveals how, returning to an America ripped apart by a war which, in their view, they were not allowed to win, a small but driven group of veterans, active-duty personnel, and civilian supporters concluded that waging war on their own country was justified. They unified people from a variety of militant groups, including Klansmen, neo-Nazis, skinheads, radical tax protestors, and white separatists. Belew shows how the white power movement operated with discipline and clarity, undertaking assassinations, mercenary soldiering, armed robbery, counterfeiting, and weapons trafficking. Her analysis argues for awareness of the heightened potential for paramilitarism in a present defined by ongoing war.

 crws@berkeley.edu, 510-642-0813