November 5, 2009, Busboys and Poets in Washington DC- In the Cullen room, DC was treated to an appearance by Leonard Zeskind as he promoted his book, Blood and Politics. All of us here at Lady Liberty’s Lamp have read Blood and Politics and we think it’s the anti-racist bible. Referred to as “a life-long activist in repairing a badly torn world,” Zeskind spoke about the transformation of the white power movement into the white nationalist movement.
Zeskind began his talk about White Nationalism by stressing the importance of viewing it as a social movement. He pointed out that the White Nationalist movement may only have 30,000 hardcore members, but this is large in terms of social movements. Similarly, Zeskind noted, anti-immigrant organizations count 75,000 individual contributors. This way, these movements can maintain appearances of being bigger than they are. Zeskind went on to say that the current anti-immigrant movement is organized around keeping the United States as white as possible; here it finds common ground with the white nationalist movement. Zeskind attacked the stereotype of white nationalists as caricatures of uneducated whites, saying that the image of a tobacco-chewing redneck is at odds with the true makeup of the white nationalist movement. Leaders in white nationalism are predominantly middle class, with overall demographics consisting of individuals from all class levels in society. To illustrate this point, Zeskind highlighted several characters from his book, including the following:
-Richard Kelly Hoskins, a stockbroker from Lynchburg, Virginia who authored the homophobic and racist Phineas Priesthood Doctrines. Zeskind made a point to note that Hoskins’ life intersected with Senator Willis Robertson in their service of upholding Jim Crow. Readers of Lady Liberty’s Lamp will know that Willis Robertson is the father of televangelist Pat Robertson.
-Wayne Lutton, PhD; a prolific writer of anti-immigrant screeds and a minor figure in the holocaust denial movement.
-Arnie Watson, Trent Lott’s uncle. A major figure in the Council of Conservative Citizens, Arnie Watson was a state leader in Mississippi’s Council of Conservative Citizens. The Council of Conservative Citizens, of course, is a descendant of the segregationist White Citizens Councils.
Zeskind continued his talk by speaking about the overall themes of his book: the penetration of white nationalist ideas into rational, mainstream discourse and that seemingly disparate elements like Sovreign Citizens, Free Men, Anti-14th Amendment crusaders, Christian Identity and the Militia movement all work in concert to serve a broader white nationalist agenda.
Zeskind explained that a major problem with white nationalism was that it lost all of the battles in the civil rights era. To explain this, white nationalists concocted the conspiracy that the civil rights struggle was conceived and controlled by Jews. From this, he said, white nationalism developed “white majority dispossession:” white nationalists see that everything that was theirs was taken from them. This thesis was put into print in 1972 by Wilmont Robertson’s book The Dispossesed Majority. Still being printed, the “white dispossession” argument was eagerly snapped up in the 70’s by David Duke, and used that in his reformation of the Ku Klux Klan. This argument truly caught on when Pat Buchanan incorporated it into his 1992 presidential campaign and garnerned three million votes from it. Zeskind also observed that Tea Partiers are co-opting the disposession rhetoric, which further underscored his point about the infiltration of white nationalist ideas into mainstream discourse.
Zeskind wrapped up his talk by recalling David Duke’s return to the limelight in 2004 after a lengthy prison term. Duke is at a meeting, and the topic for discussion is the future– white nationalists are preparing for a time when white people are no longer a majority. White Nationalism isn’t a problem left over from the sixties, it is preparing for battles in the future. Unless we as anti-racists prepare for this, he stated, we’re going to get blindsided. In order to adequately prepare, anti-racist activists need to form truly multi-racial anti-racist activist groups, since the most terrifying thing to a white nationalist is to see the races working together against racism.