Sam Goldman interviews writer Teddy Wilson about the latest developments from the fascist movement in the US, including the violent wing of the anti-abortion movement, the January 6th commission, and the wave of antisemitism coming from prominent powers and from their ground soldiers. Teddy chronicles the US fascist movement in detail at his Substack: radicalreports.substack.com. Follow Teddy on Twitter at @reportbywilson.
Also mentioned in this episode:
Research by Carol Mason into the anti-abortion movement and links to antisemitism (check out Killing for Life: The Apocalyptic Narrative of Pro-life Politics).
Music for this episode: Penny the Snitch by Ikebe Shakedown
Refuse Fascism Episode 132
Sun, Oct 30, 2022 4:32PM • 54:53
Teddy Wilson 00:00
The real lesson I think of January 6th is not just about what happened and how it happened and who planned and coordinated all that, but to understand that that’s something that can happen again. The far right movement, the broad far right, is diverse and has lots of sectors and different ideologies and everything, but they learn from each other, they adapt from each other strategies and tactics…Within the larger scope, the far right more generally, are all kind of moving towards similar political goal…It’s incumbent upon you to do what you can to stand up to these various types of fascism…You can’t refuse and resist fascism unless you have everybody working together.
Sam Goldman 00:59
Welcome to Episode 132 of the Refuse Fascism podcast, a podcast brought to you by volunteers with Refuse Fascism. I’m Sam Goldman, one of those volunteers and host of the show. Refuse Fascism exposes analyzes, and stands against the very real danger of fascism coming to power in the United States. In today’s episode, we are sharing an interview with journalist Teddy Wilson to discuss the January 6 Select Committee hearing, anti- abortion domestic terrorism and the rise in anti-semitism. Yep, it’s a wide ranging combo, you’re gonna want to hear it.
But first, thanks to everyone who goes the extra step and rates and reviews on Apple Podcasts, shares and comments on social media or YouTube. It helps us reach more listeners. and we read everyone of course we do. Here’s some proof. Here is a tweet that I’m sharing. @GoodPointKathy wrote: “A fantastic episode. He made the terrifying reality clear. They want total domination and now SCOTUS is fully complicit. But we should just be patient through decades of this? Hell no! Fight back, or else split the nation. I ain’t living under their theocracy.” Thanks. GoodPointKathy.
If you want to know more about the episode that she’s talking about, and who “he” is that makes this terrifyingly clear, you’re gonna want to listen to our interview from last week with Andrew Seidel. So go back listen to last week’s episode. And after listening to today’s episode, go help us find more people who want to refuse fascism by rating and reviewing on Apple Podcasts, and encouraging your friends and family who listen to do the same. Subscribe/follow so you never miss an episode. And of course, continue all that sharing and commenting on social media.
Sam Goldman 02:57
Before we get to this week’s interview, we have to talk about where we are right now as this fascist moment slams the accelerator. On January 6 this fascist mob stormed the Capitol. They shouted “where’s Nancy?” with plans to murder her and Vice President Mike Pence. Conspiracy theories and cries of the stolen election continued to be the litmus test for GOP leadership. The mass fascist movement has hardened in the wake of their January 6 coup attempt. Fascist initiatives, as we’ve discussed frequently, are continuing to advance, restricting voting, immigration and abortion across the country.
It is this fascist movement attacking trans minors in Florida, where this week the state’s medical board viciously banned gender-affirming care for minors. It is the fascist movement storming school board meetings threatening teachers they slander as “grooming their children.” Our co-initiator Andy Zee commented in one of our panels prior to the coup attempt that “a huge section of America is completely unhinged from reality, and fervently believe their alternate factory reality as morally superior and existential for their lives. The destruction of truth is a key factor in the forging of a fascist space, a fascist leader and fascist rule. We have lived it for four years, and it’s been metastasizing for 40.”
According to a new Pew Research Center survey, 45% of Americans say the U.S. should be a “Christian nation.” According to Capitol Police, in the years since Trump was elected in 2016, the number of recorded threats against members of Congress increased more than tenfold. Where we are right now, a fascist ex president who led a violent lethal failed coup continues to operate, free to be GOP front-runner and to hold rallies where he threatens journalists with torture and rape to gleeful applause from his cult followers. An all-sided effort at voter intimidation — to be clear, all sided, but all sides of the Republi-fascist party–is underway, emanating in large part from key leaders of the January 6 insurrection.
Trump lawyer and coup plotter, John Eastman, spoke earlier this month at a summit of prospective poll watchers and vote challengers, inciting election deniers to demand access to polling places and menace voters. This was at one of a number of summits being coordinated in part by the RNC itself. Meanwhile, Steve Bannon called on Alex Jones loyalists and Infowars listeners to become poll watchers.
Fascist armed vigilantes have already been seen stationed outside of early voting locations in Arizona, and it is in this context that in the early hours of Friday, October 28, a man broke through the back entrance of the Pelosi residence in San Francisco screaming: “where’s Nancy?” He attacked 82 year-old Paul Pelosi with a hammer, fracturing his skull, and attempted to tie him up before the police arrived. His goal was to assassinate the third in command of an administration that he believes is his political enemy, an existential threat. This 42 year-old seems to have traveled the crusty hippie to QAnon fascist pipeline, and blogs that horrific mind numbing journey over the past decade, most recently posting vile anti-LGBTQ content and pro- Hitler Infowars style screeds involving aliens and blood libels.
Time is running out for us, the people, to confront the reality: We are dealing with a fanatical and weaponized fascist movement. They are emboldened and battle-tested and only becoming more vicious, and they are not going to stop until they have it all, with the full horror that represents, unless we stop them. Trump incited, facilitated and championed the coup. The Republi-fascist party called the storming of the Capitol “legitimate discourse.” The GOP is the party of the big lie, of Q[Anon], of replacement theory.
The fascist point in all of this isn’t just to get elected or pass their policies — of course it is that, but — even more, their goal is to turn the state apparatus into a qualitatively more brutal, repressive apparatus to thrust oppressed people, Black folks, immigrants, LGBTQ people, women, into an even more subordinate position in society, and violate the rule of law wherever they please, even more violently, viciously repressing any challenge to their rule. This is a fascist party that is immune to shame or reason. It is a movement that is being normalized, as people talk about the midterms like a normal election as the Republi- fascists have already profoundly shredded the norms, changed the rules and destroyed lives.
And we’ve got to get real, the Democratic Party won’t stop this nightmare. Trump, fascist Fox News and the Republic-fascist Party have branded them as enemies and traitors, literally threatened them with death, tried to assassinate them. Yet, the Democratic Party consistently pulls to try to work with them, conciliate with them, collaborate with them, treat them as a legitimate party, and this election as a normal election. For instance, it’s highly unlikely that Biden will deliver a speech tomorrow where he walks people through: When I said MAGA movement was “semi fascist,” this is what I meant, and display an enlargement of the pictures of Paul Pelosi skull being hammered.
The Democrats are more willing to live within and coexist with an outright fascist form of rule than to risk open confrontation with fascist forces. Fascism must be resolutely opposed, actively resisted. There can be no reconciliation with fascism, except on the terms of the fascists. And we’ve got fascism on full display, and the Democrats refused to and I would argue, cannot actually fight this the way it needs to be fought in order to actually defeat it politically, whether or not they can eke out an electoral tit-for-tat.
One of the most insidious problems in the cultural conception of this moment is the individualism and individualization of these horrors; that Musk is a problem, that Kanye West is a problem, that Mitch McConnell is a problem, that the guy who attacked Paul Pelosi is a problem. They are, but the conception that each has to be dealt with individually, and ahistorically, that is a problem because in reality, these are all part of an enmeshed fascist onslaught within a society that we are all part of, and all of these threads traveled directly through January 6, which no one with any power has been held accountable for.
We got here in part because of this fidelity oath of accommodation and conciliation with fascists, and refusal to even call them fascists. In all accounts from the media and Democratic Party mouthpieces, the story of the attack assassination of Nancy Pelosi is minimized, from the fact that this was a repeated assassination attempt on the third in line of succession, to simply a crime in some, “both sides” escalation of rhetoric. Beyond the media portrayal this government minimized the fascist threat so much so that it seems there wasn’t security at the Pelosi’s home.
In Refuse Fascism’s first call to act, in 2017, we wrote: “Fascism is a strong word. It is a very serious thing. It has direction and momentum that must be stopped before it becomes too late. Fascism foments and relies on xenophobic nationalism, racism, misogyny, and the aggressive reinstitution of oppressive ‘traditional values.’ Fascism feeds on and encourages the threat and use of violence to build a movement and come to power. Fascism, once in power, essentially eliminates traditional democratic rights.”
We went on to say that if you work with fascists, you normalize the road to horror. You cannot try to “wait things out.” Those who lived through Nazi Germany and sat on the sidelines looking on as Hitler demonized, criminalized and eventually rounded up, one after another became shameful collaborators with monstrous crimes. Don’t consiliate, don’t accommodate, don’t collaborate. That was 2017, and it is the trifecta of conciliation, accommodation and collaboration that continues to shield this fascist movement against the people rising up to politically defeat them.
In today’s interview, we discuss the rising and raging anti-semitism. We just have to mention the Musk-ification of Twitter with racist anti-semitic and homophobic tweets surging once the acquisition took effect. I wanted to quote Wajahat Ali, who remarked in his article on the Musk takeover: “The world’s richest troll, who is beloved by white nationalists, just assumed control of Twitter, a digital town square that is used and abused to influence culture and politics. Despite the likelihood that the social media platform will now openly welcome hate mongers and conspiracy theorists, it is imperative for those dedicated to truth and democracy to stay, keep tweeting, and not cede the ground to fascists.” I agree with Wajahat’s basic stance here, the refusal to cede this ground fascists, but this must be part of a movement much larger than Twitter, one where social media becomes a tool of a mobilized people with enough vision to at least see a world beyond this fascist threat. With that, here is my interview with Teddy.
Today we are welcoming back journalist and researcher Teddy Wilson. Teddy’s Radical Reports is a substack newsletter that provides research, analysis and intelligence on the radical right. Welcome, Teddy. Thanks for joining us.
Teddy Wilson 12:49
Yeah, thank you so much for having me. Again, it’s a real pleasure to be back on.
Sam Goldman 12:52
I mainly wanted to get your input and analysis around anti-abortion domestic terrorism, because we touched on it last time, but you had a lot more to say and you have a lot of background in that area, so I wanted to loop back to it. But I did want to give you an opportunity to speak about the January 6 Committee hearings that just wrapped up. Were there any things that you think that people of conscience that are concerned about the fascist threat in the United States, any key highlights or takeaways that you think people need to be paying attention to, in light of that hearing wrapping up?
Teddy Wilson 13:33
I would say, first of all, that I think the way that the Select Committee wrapped up their public hearings really succinctly highlighted the main points of the investigation and really painted a picture of all the events that led up to the January 6 insurrection. They did a really good job of building a case, almost like prosecution, essentially. I thought it was really compelling. I think what people should be concerned about is the consequences of this upcoming midterm election, because if the Republicans gain back the majority in the House, if they gain back the majority in the Senate, any of these investigations into January 6 insurrection will pretty much be eliminated and halted. The Committee is under a lot of pressure to put out essentially a final report about what happened, and I think we’re expecting to see that from the Committee sometime before the end of this year.
While it was important that the Committee decided to subpoena former President Donald Trump, the likelihood that that subpoena is actually enforced is extremely unlikely. Whatever happens with the midterm elections will determine what happens with the Committee going forward and what happens with investigations into January 6. Final point I’ll just make on the importance of January 6, and the importance of the work that the Committee has doing, and also countless investigators and researchers that have worked for the Committee, some of which I know and have talked to over these last several months, have done a tremendous amount of work to investigate this.
One of the conclusions that people should understand about all this work is that it can happen again, and not just in DC, not just at the Capitol, but I think people should have a real concern about these kinds of events happening at the state level at a state capitol or a school board meeting. That’s the real lesson, I think of January 6, is not just about what happened and how it happened, and who planned and coordinated all that, but to understand that that’s something that can happen again. People should really consider that over the coming months and years as a real threat to small ‘d’ democracy.
Sam Goldman 15:50
That is a really important wake-up call for people who have not recognized that yet. It’s been said before by other guests, in many ways, the coup never ended; it’s continued. It’s continued by the fact that we have a slew of election deniers who are running for positions of power. You have people like Kari Lake who are saying they’re not going to concede a loss. This is ongoing, and it’s continuing. We should really, definitely heed your warning.
I want to shift the conversation slightly while still thinking about what we often call on the show the fascist ground troops. I was wondering if you could help us understand the overall picture when it comes to these fascist ground troops — that anti-abortion base that is willing to inflict violence to enforce their program? What are these people doing these days? Are they no longer a threat because in so many areas, they’re winning? Or is that not true? And what danger do those forces play in this new post Roe landscape?
Teddy Wilson 17:02
Since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe in the Dobbs decision, the anti-abortion movement has found itself in a crossroads essentially. Even before the Court’s decision overturning Roe, there was a lot of debate within the anti-abortion movement about how they should proceed if and when Roe was overturned. Post-Roe, we find ourselves in an interesting situation where essentially about half of the states either have banned abortion or are moving towards banning abortion. And then another half of the states have either already protected reproductive rights or are moving towards solidifying protections for reproductive rights.
Within the anti-abortion movement, I think there is a celebration of the overturning of Roe. There’s some victorious feelings around state lawmakers in various states both passing new laws heavily restricting abortion or completely banning abortion. And there’s also been state laws that have been revived that were previously unenforceable due to Roe v. Wade. But I think there is a developing understanding within the anti-abortion movement. This is a movement that seeks to end legal abortion full stop in every state. They want a federal ban on abortion with no exceptions. That’s their clear goal. It’s unambiguous. I think they see that they have arguably a larger challenge ahead of them than they faced in overturning Roe in attempting to either pass federal legislation to ban abortion or to attempt to restrict abortion and eventually ban abortion in states that have already protected abortion rights.
There is some growing frustration within the anti abortion movement about that as they are seeing states like California and New York and other places solidify abortion rights in those states. You also see other interesting things happening say in New Mexico. So where I live in Texas, abortion has been for all intents and purposes completely banned. New Mexico has always been one of those outlier states that has not just protected abortion but has really protected the right of pregnant people to access abortion throughout later stages of pregnancy. It’s one of those few states where if a woman is pregnant, and she’s 22 weeks pregnant, and all of a sudden finds out that there’s a fetal abnormality or that she’s at risk for death because of her pregnancy, New Mexico is one of those few states where pregnant people have been able to travel to and get later term abortion care. Now there’s a process of New Mexico building additional reproductive health care clinics and abortion clinics on the border of Texas so that pregnant people in Texas can have an easier time accessing abortion care and other types of reproductive health care that they may need.
It’s been interesting to watch how both the anti-abortion movement and the reproductive health rights and justice movement respond to the current moment. Now to get down into what you’re getting at with your question about the more radical elements of the anti-abortion movement; the extremist elements of the anti-abortion movement. That is part of the anti-abortion movement that was never satisfied or on board with the goal of overturning Roe v. Wade. That part of the movement always thought that that was essentially a half measure.
There are parts of the anti- abortion movement, particularly these so called abolitionists, that believes that states should have just essentially ignored the Supreme Court and ignored the Roe v Wade precedent and banned abortion and enforced it, they are much more radical in their beliefs and ideology and goals. They are similar in a way to the elements within the white supremacist movement that subscribe to this accelerationist ideology — which is, for those that may not be familiar, with this idea that using the political process to establish a white ethno state is too slow and cumbersome and it will never work. The accelerationist ideology says we need to create massive amounts of violence to cause a race war and then we can get the white ethno state we want.
There’s a similar kind of ideology within the anti-abortion extremist movement of pushing the legal limits and ignoring the courts, ignoring federal law, this idea that states are sovereign and states rights and they should be able to to enforce whatever laws they want. So that’s one of the divides within the anti-abortion movement They do pose a threat. You might think that because of the overturning of Roe v Wade, and because so many states are banning abortion or severely restricting access to abortion, that those parts of the movement wouldn’t be as active right or wouldn’t be as motivated. But I think those parts of the movement see states like California and New York strengthening abortion rights and other states where abortion may be restricted, but it’s not banned and there’s some protections for access in places like, say, Montana, for example, or even in Florida and a few other places that might be kind of in red states and conservative states, but there’s still some access to abortion, you will see that those extremists fringe of the anti-abortion movement will be motivated by that, because that’s the last frontier for them.
Especially in deeply blue states, there’s no real possibility for political change for them there, right. There’s no way that they could really use the electoral and legislative system to restrict access to abortion or ban it. That’s where you see the possibility of real world violence, where you see some kind of parallels to this within other elements of the far right extremist movement and more violent elements. Because when you look at the locations where we’ve been seeing far right, extremist violence, a lot of that has been taking place in places that people might generally think of as blue states or progressive areas of the country. There’s been a lot of far right extremist violence in Oregon, for example. There’s been a lot of right extremist violence in California, there’s been a lot of far right extremist violence in Illinois and throughout New England.
Just because you’re in a blue state and you feel like your reproductive freedom is protected, that doesn’t mean that far right, violent extremists aren’t going to be targeting you in those states. In fact, I think it makes it more likely that we’ll see violent attacks in places like that. People need to remember where one of the last incidents of anti-abortion extremist violence was, was in Colorado, which is not exactly a conservative state. There is a real pocket of conservatism there in Colorado Springs, but the state as a whole is not conservative at all. It’s become much more progressive over the last decade.
Sam Goldman 24:00
I just really appreciate the broad view and break down. The emphasis that you put on what overall the anti- abortion movement is going for, in terms of an all-out ban on abortion. It is really important that people grasp that they are refusing to accept a patchwork of sanctuary states or any safe spaces. They’re refusing that. This is a movement that does have fascist violence at its core. It is a movement that has bombed clinics, that has terrorized doctors, patients, that has murdered doctors and staff for decades, and that they aren’t going to stop until they totally obliterate this.
At the same time, it’s important that people recognize how much damage has already been done, and that for — I think the number now is — over 22 million women of reproductive age cannot access an abortion in their state. That is violence by the state. It is an act of violence when your body is hijacked. For all people who can become pregnant, this is a huge, huge concern, and it is having real world implications right now. I want to add the other thing that I’ve been thinking a lot about in terms of where they’re going in addition to the nationwide ban that you brought up. I think that we’re going to be seeing more things similar to what Georgia implemented around seeking to codify fetal personhood, and what the implications for criminalization could be for people who miscarry or induce their own abortions.
Teddy Wilson 25:43
We could probably do an entire other podcast about the criminalization of pregnancy and what that looks like. As I was talking about that kind of broad view I was bringing up how it compares to other parts of the far right movement. One thing that people should keep an eye on and understand is that the far right movement, the broad far right, is diverse, and has lots of sectors and different ideologies and everything, but they learn from each other, they adapt from each other’s strategies and tactics. Right now, something that people need to keep an eye on is the kind of current strategy and tactics that we’re seeing used by the far right to attack and target the LGBTQ community, particularly the trans community.
This strategy of targeting hospitals or other health care facilities, or schools, or individual doctors that provide gender-affirming care, or that are welcoming and affirming of various people within the LGBTIQ community, and then targeting them with online harassment, which has led to bomb threats and other threats of violence against various people, from teachers, to doctors, to health care workers. That’s been very effective, and we’ve seen these far right pundIts and social media influencers — people like Matt Walsh, and Christopher Ruffo — really weaponize this and really terrorize the LGBTIQ community. There’s lots of other parts of the far right that are watching how successful that is. People should be prepared to see far right, violent extremist elements of the anti abortion movement utilize that kind of same strategy. People should expect that and think through how to counter that and be prepared for it because I think it’s coming. It’s not a question of if it’s a question of when.
Sam Goldman 27:37
That’s really important. And I appreciate you bringing that in. Isn’t there overlap, would you say, between those who are vilifying and terrorizing parents who are taking their children to care, the doctors who are caring for them, and those who are on the frontlines of the anti abortion movement? Aren’t in many ways, those similar people?
Teddy Wilson 28:01
There are definite similarities between various far right actors as far as their kind of ideology and who they target. Where I would say there is the most overlap between, say, far right, violent extremists within the anti- abortion movement, and say white supremacist violent actors, is on those fringes. An example of this is centered within the Pacific Northwest. That has been an area that has been particularly a fruitful ground for various types of extremist movements — in places like Northern Idaho, Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington has been kind of a central area for various types of extremist groups like Abolish Human Abortion, which is a extremist group or even the Army of God, which is a violent extremist part of the anti-abortion movement, which has been around for 30 or 40 years. They have had connections with white supremacists, extremists, adherence to Christian identity, and there’s even been connections between some of these anti-abortion groups and the Proud Boys, that right wing, essentially street gang.
A lot of that has happened within the Pacific Northwest area, where we’ve seen these various groups and far right actors interconnect and communicate and sometimes become allies for various things. Within the larger scope, the far right more generally, are all kind of moving towards similar political goals. You do see, more of a kind of a specialization — a lot of folks that are involved in the anti- abortion movement tend to focus only on opposition to abortion, right. They may be, personally, also vehemently against LGBTQ rights, they may be against racial justice, they may share a lot of commonality with other far right actors, but there does tend to be kind of a singular focus on whatever their project is.
Where you see the most kind of overlap is within the far right and right wing media echo sphere, where you see people like Matt Walsh and others, like Christopher Ruffo, that are attacking multiple different marginalized communities. So it’s kind of complex and complicated with regards to how all these elements of the far right can sometimes fit together, but they are definitely all moving towards similar and shared goals. There’s just not the same kind of tension within the far right, or even kind of the mainstream right as there is on the left and in the progressive movement that there can be. There’s just far more tension between various parts of the progressive movement with regards to whether it’s people pursuing climate change goals or people pursuing gun safety laws, people looking to push the racial justice movement or advocate for reproductive justice.
Whatever it is, while they are often shared goals, there’s just a lot less of the same kind of automatic cooperation among the left. There’s so much competing for limited resources and limited money and funding on the left. That’s one of the things that irritates me most about the mainstream media discourse about the differences between the left and the right political spheres, is there’s often a tendency among the mainstream media to not just do the “this and that,” not just one side says this and the other side says that, but to think that there’s an equation there between what happens on the left and what happens on the right. They’re just vastly different, and sometimes by a degree of magnitude. For example, like the right wing media echo sphere, The Daily Caller, or The Daily Wire, or all these other podcast networks, there is nothing comparable to that on the left. There just isn’t. That’s one of the problems, I think. Folks that aren’t as familiar with how the right works, there’s that tendency to compare and there just isn’t a good comparison there, it’s just not, it’s just really different.
Sam Goldman 32:02
To kind of close out this part of our conversation, I wanted to share a thought that I’ve been thinking about and just get your opinion. It’s been over a week now since Biden said that one of the first things he’d do, if more Democrats win elections in November, is to codify Roe. I think this is just so rich, given the decades they’ve had to do it. So thousands have been terrorized this summer, and some of the some women have even been arrested for now-illegal abortions. This is, to me, coming way too late. But also, why in the world, should we think that they would actually do this, when no one is predicting that they’ll have more than 60 votes in the Senate, and they still won’t overturn the filibuster? I am wondering what your thoughts are on this possibility.
Teddy Wilson 32:51
I’m not a political analyst. Take whatever I say with a grain of salt, but, to me, if it sounds like anything, it sounds more like political signaling. I think you’re absolutely right when you point out that, essentially, they’ve had a few decades to codify Roe. And there’s also just the political reality of the near impossibility of codifying Roe with the current political makeup of Congress. From what I can tell, it does seem like the issue of abortion as a motivating factor for folks voting in the upcoming midterm election has waned a bit on people’s minds because it’s been several months now since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and I think folks have a difficult time kind of maintaining a certain level of anger about things like that. Not that these aren’t important issues, but it’s easy to transition to caring more about inflation and the economy and all these other issues that people are having to deal with in their day to day lives.
So yeah, I think that’s a big part of it, and I think there’s also a significant part of me that just thinks this is par for the course, that the Democratic Party, and even kind of more broadly, the progressive movement as a whole has often been quick to throw marginalized communities under the bus for political expediency. You probably remember hearing similar arguments about this, like if the Democrats can just you know, moderate on abortion and come to come some kind of compromise, then maybe they can get something else done on gun control or climate change or what have you. I think the history of what we’ve seen from the Democratic Party, at least over the last 20 to 30 years has been if we have to give in on abortion rights, if we have to give in on immigrant rights, if we have to give in on rights for the LGBTIQ community, whatever marginalized community we have to throw under the bus to get some kind of milquetoast, corporate legislation passed, we’re fine with doing that. And so from kind of my cynical point of view that it just seems like par for the course on what what happens in our current Democratic politics.
Sam Goldman 35:01
Thanks for sharing your perspective, I think it’s helpful, and that there is a lot to unpack in terms of why and how we’ve allowed this to become so normalized — the attacks on abortion that is. There are many examples of other things that we’ve seen this happen. How many times are we going to do the: yesterday’s outrage that sent us fuming becomes uhp, this is just how politics are, to people not being able to imagine people even having the right to abortion? That keeps me up at night.
Sam Goldman 35:40
Today, October 27, marks four years since the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, was attacked, where 11 people were killed, and six were injured. This took place the morning of October 27, 2018. The synagogue since then, has remained closed to the public, and there has been a rise in antisemitic rhetoric. In the past several weeks comments from a range of public figures including Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, have sparked concern about implications of real world violence. Trump saying things like “No president has done more for Israel than I have. U.S. Jews have to get their act together and appreciate what they have in Israel before it’s too late.” Can we get your thoughts on the discourse around the anti semitism? Is there a rise that we should be paying attention to? What danger do you see posed in the elevation of such rhetoric and is there a connection to real world violence in addition to the harm posed by overt anti semitism being platformed?
Teddy Wilson 37:00
The discourse around Kanye West’s anti semitic comments has been varied, from looking at him as kind of a clownish figure that he’s had a history of making outlandish statements over the past several years — there is a part of the discourse that tends to view it more within that kind of prism. There has been some interesting and insightful commentary on his statements and seeks to unpack it a bit because there’s a lot there to really chew on. One good piece that I would recommend folks read was published in The Washington Post by Karen Attiah, and I’ll just quote from the way she ended the piece: “I only wish we could cancel the rabidly racist white men in our culture and politics, just as we’ve done for ignorant Black rapper who makes really ugly shoes.” It’s a great piece as a whole, to read. I think it’s important. It really kind of delves more into it from the perspective of a Black woman, so I think that’s a good piece for people to read.
Also, Talia Levin, who is the author of Cultural Warlords, who has spent years studying anti semitism and white supremacist rhetoric online, she wrote also a great piece in Insider that I really recommend people go read. So I think the kind of discourse around Kanye West’s anti semitic comments has kind of been varied — everybody kind of has a take on it, but most of the takes I’ve seen had been kind of surface level, there’s not been a real unpacking of the things that he has said and why they are anti semitic, like how he’s using these anti semitic tropes. I think partly because some of what he said it takes a while to unpack some of the stupidity that is in there before you can get down to the anti semitic tropes.
As far as the rising amount of anti semitism that we’ve seen and how that translates to real world violence, that is real. I’m someone that, as a part of publishing my newsletter at Radical Reports, I’m constantly monitoring various types of extremist activity, particularly violent extremist incidents across the country, motivated by various parts of the far right; everything from the militia movement to the white supremacist and neo-Nazi movement to explicit anti semitism coming from various kind of neo-Nazi groups. One data point, the Anti Defamation League, which tracks all these various types of anti semitic incidents around the country, we’re coming to the end of October, there’s already been more anti semitic incidents this year than there was the entirety of the previous year.
I think we’re coming up on 300 specific anti semitic incidents of Nazi propaganda or violent targeting of Jewish individuals, organizations. There is, just from a numbers perspective, more anti semitic incidents this year than there was last year, than there was the previous year. There’s been an increase over the last three or four years, especially since 2016. As someone that monitors this and tracks what is happening, I can just look at what happened this week — not just in response to Kanye West — there has been some real world consequences from the statements made by Kanye West. In addition to this neo-Nazi group that hung anti semitic, white supremacist banners over the freeway in Los Angeles. The Holocaust Museum in Los Angeles extended an invitation to Kanye West to come visit the museum and maybe get educated. Since that became public knowledge, the Holocaust Museum has been targeted with violent threats by Neo-Nazis and white supremacist, both online and in real world. So the museum has had to respond to that.
In other places, there has been even more. There’s been a number of anti semitic incidents in Tempe, Arizona. So much so that the mayor of the city had to speak out about it and talk about how they were going to respond to that. In North Carolina over the last couple of weeks, there’s been hundreds of anti semitic white supremacist, neo-Nazi flyers that have been distributed in several towns all over the state of North Carolina. A few other cities around the country, there’s been incidents of either protest or propaganda from various neo-Nazi groups being spread in neighborhoods, particularly. And of course, there’s been violent threats that have been targeted at Jewish houses of worship, specifically in response to the anniversary of the shooting in Pittsburgh. So that’s all just this week.
There’s not just evidence from a data standpoint, as far as how much there has been, but just looking anecdotally around the country about what’s going on, there’s a lot of evidence that shows that this is increasing. One of the things about anti semitism that I think people that don’t follow extremist movements in the far right, or particularly kind of the white supremacist movement, the thing that people don’t necessarily tend to understand is how critical anti semitism is to building kind of a cohesive ideological structure for those. White supremacist, yes, they target all kinds of minority and marginalized groups They are anti Black, they’re anti immigrant, many of them are even anti-Catholic. There’s been more and more of them that have targeted the LGBTIQ community, particularly the trans community, but where anti semitism typically fits in is that it’s their explanation for who is behind what they view as the dilution of the white race.
That’s why you see them blaming Jews and not necessarily powerful Jews; they target any Jewish person online, because they view them as the conspirator behind all of everything that they hate. It’s something that they take particular umbrage with, because for most Jewish people, for most people of the Jewish faith, particularly the United States, they can pass as white. I mean, I’ve heard people say this that I’ve known, they’ve talked to me about kind of living as a Jewish person in America, you’re white until people find out you’re a Jew. When you read white supremacist neo-Nazi rhetoric online, I think that’s one of the things that they hate the most about Jews is their ability to pass as white. Kind of a phrase you hear is a “race traitor,” essentially.
That’s what I think people need to understand about how insidious anti semitism is, is because it’s not just targeting Jewish people out of hatred, it’s also they are built into the DNA of the white supremacist movements ideology, and that gives them a “cohesive reason” to hate every other marginalized group. It’s definitely a rising problem, and that when people like Kanye West or Trump or anyone with a large reach, and a large audience, makes anti semitic statements and doesn’t receive immediate pushback, it’s going to inspire more anti semitism, and it’s going to lead to more real word violence and targeting of people of Jewish faith.
I wouldn’t say that people should try to understand white supremacist ideology or thinking in a kind of logical way, because it falls apart as soon as you apply logic to it, but there’s white supremacists online cheering Kanye West for making these anti semitic comments and kind of repeating their kind of talking points about how they talk about Jewish folks. That’s where you see where anti semitism Trumps anti-Blackness in a way, because it’s kind of the glue that holds it all together.
Sam Goldman 44:58
As much as we talk about Kanye, which we should, because people have been unleashed and emboldened by those statements being so platformed, let’s not lose sight of Tucker Carlson and others who gave him endless airtime and who have said the same thing. When Kanye was invited to go to the Holocaust Museum, he said, “nah. Planned Parenthood is my Holocaust Museum.”
Teddy Wilson 45:29
There’s also a direct connection between anti semitism, white supremacy and anti-abortion. I won’t go into it in detail. But if folks are interested, I suggest reading the work of Dr. Carol Mason, who’s a professor at the University of Kentucky. She’s written a book about the anti-abortion movement. It’s all about the apocalyptic narratives of the anti-abortion movement, and she’s done a lot of work in connecting white supremacy and anti semitism within the anti-abortion movement. There’s a lot of evidence there. Everything going back decades in which the far right portrayed abortion doctors as caricatures of Jewish doctors in cartoons. So there’s a definite connection there. So, once again, I recommend if folks are interested in kind of reading more in depth of that, check out the writings of Dr. Carol Mason.
Sam Goldman 46:22
We’ll include it in the show notes.
Teddy Wilson 46:23
I would say another thing to mention about anti semitism. You often see with Republicans and folks on the right, there’s a kind of standard deflection that they do. There is some “what about-ism,” where they often bring up insensitive or even anti semitic remarks made by people on the left, whether it’s Democratic politicians or other progressive activists, and there’s that false equivalence they make between unconditional support of the State of Israel and anti semitism.
There’s an important distinction to make there, right: You can make thoughtful critiques and criticisms of the policies of the State of Israel without being anti semitic, right, there’s a distinction there. You can definitely level criticisms on the state of Israel and how they have treated Palestinians and the de facto apartheid state without being anti semitic. There’s a difference. I think Republican politicians have exploited that constantly to deflect from any criticisms of anti semitism. What you always, always, always see whenever any Republican politician is criticized for any kind of possible anti semitism is: I am a steadfast supporter of Israel. Which is not the same thing as not being anti semitic. There’s a lot of Jewish folks in America that think to themselves: “I’m an American, I’m not an Israeli, what you’re saying makes no sense to me.” That’s important to identify. Two is kind of the deflection.
Then lastly, you mentioned Tucker Carlson, and in some ways what he says, I think it’s worse. The way it’s worse is because he’s saying it in a suit and tie on television and presenting it as this mainstream political discourse. He’s saying these awful, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, transphobic things, but he’s saying it as though he’s just a respectable political commentator. And I think that goes to embolden everyone else and further kind of radicalizes the right wing, when that kind of rhetoric was allowed to fester like that. He may not be saying it in a way that sounds more outrageous because he’s saying it in a more polished kind of rhetoric, but because of who he is in the platforming has and the way he’s saying it, in a way it’s even more dangerous,
Sam Goldman 46:27
Yeah, and he’s also saying many of the exact same things. He also chose to run anti semitic interviews; that’s a production choice. And it was not met with any kind of: “I’m sharing this interview because I’m going to debunk it.” Which, okay, maybe — I still think would be platforming hate, but — maybe there’s a justification for it. But that wasn’t what was going on. It’s the same type of way, whether you’re talking about Tucker Carlson, or you’re talking about a Doug Mastriano. These are people going for elected office who are running on an overt platform of anti semitism, even if people say they may not win.
Okay, you’re still talking about a huge section of people that are giving this a thumbs up, and that should frighten everyone in so whether it’s Kanye or Farrakhan or Marjorie Taylor Greene, or Trump, whoever it is that’s amplifying promoting anti semitism, they’re doing it as part of a profoundly reactionary, in many of these cases, straight-up fascist discourse and program. These views, these programs, they need to be exposed, Teddy, you were talking about breaking down for people, if there’s confusion about what these are about. Then they need to be firmly opposed. I want to just thank you again for coming on the show for sharing your expertise, your insight, your perspective, and of course, your time with us. If there’s anything that I didn’t say that you want to bring up, before we close, any last words, I’m here for it.
Teddy Wilson 50:21
Thanks so much for inviting me on. It was a real pleasure to get to talk to you about all this. If folks are interested, if they’re interested in finding my work, find me on Twitter @ReportbyWilson, and you can find my newsletter on Substack. If you go to RadicalReports.Substack.com there’s a free and paid version of the Substack if you want to subscribe. So for those that are listening, I’d be grateful for either one of those. It always seems like there’s so much more we can talk about, even though that we’re talking about some subjects that can get pretty heavy, I think it’s important to be able to talk about these things and really dig into them and digest them and unpack everything.
There’s just so much information out there for people, I think it’s important to kind of take a minute and really talk about what all these things mean and get a deeper understanding about [them], because in many ways, things that we talked about today, they can affect people in their everyday lives. Whether it’s extremists trying to subvert the democratic processes on elections, whether it’s state or local elections to extremist violence, that could be affecting themselves or their neighbors. Maybe you’re not a trans person, but maybe your neighbor is. Maybe you go to a Christian church, but maybe friends of yours go to a synagogue down the street. It’s important to understand these things, because it’s not just abstract, right? This is happening to real people that live in your community.
If you’re like me, if you’re, you know, white, cisgendered, heterosexual male and you have the benefit of essentially every privilege that you can, it’s incumbent upon you to do what you can to stand up to these various types of fascism and really put yourself out there because to use your podcast and you can’t refuse and resist fascism, unless you have everybody working together in a coalition to really push back against it.
Sam Goldman 50:58
I recommend that people read the 538 article on the real life impact of the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The report that they utilize from we-count was released October 28. The report details that at least 10,000 fewer abortions have occurred because Roe v Wade these numbers are just the early warning signal. I recommend that people read the full report on the implications of the early months since the overturn of Roe the tops decision and a link to the article which links to the full report in the show notes. Force motherhood is female enslavement. This must never be accepted or accommodated to go abortion on demand and without apology, everyone.
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