SISTERS IN HATE : American Women on the Front Lines of White Nationalism :

SEYWARD Darby is a white Southerner, several of whose ''forebears fought on the wrong side of the Civil War,'' but in examining the subjects, she never confuses empathy with understanding.

While ruthless in her condemnation of racist ideology, she suggests how that ideology becomes inseparable from a persons' sense of herself, and presents a strong case that comprehending this is crucial if we are to battle white supremacy.

Her focus on lives of three very different women makes her book as readable as a good novel; skillfully combined with history and analysis, her subjects' stories provide a better picture of the forces driving white backlash that several of the best sellers attempted to do so in the wake of Trump's elections.

AS many white Americans struggle to better understand  Black lives, it is crucial to understand the people don't think those lives matter - the white nationalists whose support Donald Trump is ever more openly seeking to win a continuation of his presidency.

The term ''neo-nazi'' is euphemistic : There's nothing neo about people who brandish the swastika that are banned in today's Germany.

We know that at least 47 percent of white women voted for Trump in 2016, and that it was more often the daughters than the sons of the Confederacy who organized to build those monuments to Confederate heroes.

 Still, it's hard to wrap our heads around the idea that women, traditionally expected to be gentle and nurturing, could be driving engines of white-supremacist hatred.

The journalist Seyward Darby shows that this is one more sexist assumption we ought to discard. ''Men like Josef Mengele and Madison Grant were the best known purveyors of social science and policy at the height of the eugenics movement's popularity,'' she writes.

''Women, though, were on the real front lines, incorporating eugenics into the fabric of everyday life.''

After Trump's election in 2016, Darby spent several years trying to fathom what moves women to support white supremacy, the belief  that America should remain a predominantly white country governed by white people.

The result is superbly written ''Sisters in Hate,'' which undermines many common assumptions about the far right.

Darby writes that her years spent studying white nationalism have inclined her to pessimism, but her book ends on a hopeful note. 

Corinna, who once supported swastikas as armbands and Tiler tattoos, now worships in a mosque whose members are mostly people of color, having converted to Islam in 2018 and had her tattoos covered up.

The last time we saw her, she is using her bodybuilding skills to teach calisthenics to women at the mosque who said they would like to be healthier, but didn't know where to start.

It's a scene that calls to mind a remark often repeated by the defense attorney Bryan Stevenson,  who  created the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Ala : Each of us more than the worst thing we've ever done.

The World Students Society thanks review author, Susan Neiman.


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!