Unpacking ‘Hate’: The New Face of Far-Right

“Hate in the Homeland” is a seminal work that offers a new lens through which to view the rise of far-right extremism. It is an essential read for anyone interested in understanding the complexities of this growing threat.

Charlottesville: A Moment Frozen in Time at the 'Unite the Right' Rally. Photo by Anthony Crider

The escalating rise of far-right extremism has transitioned from a peripheral concern to an urgent crisis requiring both immediate and sophisticated scrutiny. The global arena is experiencing an alarming escalation in hate crimes, xenophobic attitudes, and anti-democratic ideologies, predominantly stoked by far-right elements.

 

This unsettling trend transcends the boundaries of marginal groups and isolated enclaves; it has permeated mainstream political discourse, media narratives, and even quotidian interactions. The ramifications are dire, encompassing the degradation of democratic principles, the disintegration of communal harmony, and the looming specter of violent discord. In this precarious milieu, dissecting the underpinnings of far-right extremism is not merely an intellectual endeavor but a pressing necessity for safeguarding the pillars of civil society.

Dissecting Extremism: Miller-Idriss’s “Hate in the Homeland”

 

It is against this backdrop of urgency and complexity that Cynthia Miller-Idriss’s Hate in the Homeland: The New Global Far Right assumes its pivotal role. The book serves as an incisive lens and a reflective mirror, capturing the multifaceted nature of this burgeoning menace while offering innovative paradigms for its analysis. Far from limiting her study to the conventional frameworks that view extremism as the byproduct of formal political or social movements, Miller-Idriss ventures into the less-charted territories—both physical and digital—where such extremism is incubated, with a particular emphasis on youth populations. This comprehensive exploration transcends traditional understandings and delves into the nuanced ecosystems that nourish extremist ideologies, especially among younger generations.

The Role of Space and Territory in Far-Right Ideology

 

From the beginning, Miller-Idriss dives deep into the relationship between far-right extremism and the concepts of space, place, and territorial belonging. She explores how far-right groups use rhetoric, propaganda, and messaging to invoke spaces of belonging, nationalist geographies, and white territories, and delves into the historical and contemporary importance of space and territory in far-right movements, including the Nazi party’s use of the metaphor “blood and soil” and the current far-right fears of a “great replacement.”

The Aesthetics of Extremism: Clothing, Food, and Subcultures

 

The book focuses on how far-right groups use clothing and fashion to communicate their extremist ideologies and intimidate their opponents. She argues that studies on youth subcultures often neglect food and clothing to focus on music, language, and style, despite their clear connection to nationalism, nativism, and belonging. Fight clubs, mixed martial arts gyms, and related fighting styles have become important spaces for the recruitment and radicalization of the far-right. Coded messages in clothing, tattoos, and other aesthetic signals open up access to far-right scenes. This aesthetic is designed to foster socialization among like-minded youth, help disseminate far-right ideas, and contribute to the normalization of extremist ideologies. Such focus on aesthetics is a fresh perspective, rarely touched upon in existing literature.

The Internet and Radicalization: A Balanced View

 

Miller-Idriss also nuances the role of the internet in the radicalization process. She argues that while online spaces and modes of communication facilitate these cooperative engagements, they are not the primary cause of extremist collaboration. It’s a blend of online and offline activities that allows the far-right to maximize the efficacy of their ideology. This is an important clarification, especially in an age where the internet is often disproportionately blamed for all forms of radicalization.

Women’s Role in Far-Right Extremism: Community and Reproduction

 

The book also touches upon the role of women in far-right extremism, particularly their contribution to maintaining white supremacy through community participation and reproduction. This is an essential aspect of the relationship between space, place, and far-right extremism, and adds another layer to the complex issue of radicalization.

Gaps and Contributions: The Psychology of Extremism and Future Research

 

Despite its comprehensive nature, the book does not examine radicalization as a process and says little about the psychology of extremist actors. It also does not delve into the implications of the distinction between cognitive radicalization and extremist behavior. However, these gaps do not diminish the book’s significant contributions to the study of radicalization and violent extremism. “Hate in the Homeland” is a seminal work that offers a new lens through which to view the rise of far-right extremism. It is an essential read for anyone interested in understanding the complexities of this growing threat. While it may not answer all questions, it certainly raises new ones, offering fresh avenues for research and analysis in this field.

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Ph.D. in Philosophy (Université Paris Sciences et Lettres). Associate Researcher at the University of Montreal, specializing in political theory and pluralism. Editor of Politics and Rights Review.

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Ph.D. in Philosophy (Université Paris Sciences et Lettres). Associate Researcher at the University of Montreal, specializing in political theory and pluralism. Editor of Politics and Rights Review.