It might seem that memory and heritage have lost their power to excite political action and are no longer the medium through which white supremacy is asserted. Yet Lost Cause mythology has never gone away and maintains its firm grip on the thoughts and emotions of many white Americans.
The road to Charlottesville is a mighty traffic circle—at once our future and our past. It has a driveway into every home—an entryway into every American life. The goal of this issue is to map its ideological and physical expanse. In so doing, we hope to close some lanes or, at the very least, to make a few potholes.
American exclusion and criminalization of non-white people proffered a blueprint to Nazis, who engaged intimately with it in the hopes of carrying it out to its logical extent: an openly racist legal system that systematically drove out the so-called racially decrepit to foster a pure Aryan state.
While white supremacists seek confirmation of their personal racial inheritance, they are often confronted with what they regard as deeply discrediting information, such as mixed-race ancestry. This new type of genetic information creates what we call a genetic stigma—a significant gap between the person’s prior conception of themselves and the way others in the broader community perceive them.
Even in the face of life-threatening natural disasters and military action potentially on the horizon, ‘45’ makes clear through his weekly escapes to his members-only, signature golf clubs that revitalizing the bonds of white fraternity is an essential part of his project of ‘Making America Great Again.’
White backlash was never limited to the southern states. Vast and sudden changes after 1865—especially implied by the prospect of emancipating four million black people—stirred ugly counterattacks and racial backlash against the nation’s free black northern population.
Life and cultural expectations in East Texas continue to promote segregation in both personal and social relationships. Although white supremacist marches like the one in Charlottesville grip American headlines, neo-Nazis and Klansmen supporting the same doctrine in the open are not uncommon behind the Pine Curtain.