The New Hate: A History of Fear and Loathing on the Populist Right

Arthur Goldwag, Author
Arthur Goldwag. Pantheon, $27.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-307-37969-6
Reviewed on: 12/19/2011
Release date: 02/07/2012
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Goldwag (Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies) delivers an informative and lively history of organized hate groups and their role in U.S. politics. Less about prejudice than America’s “relentless quest for scapegoats,” he traces the American conspiratorial tradition from colonial times—where the Puritans feared Jesuit conspiracies as much as Indian ambushes—to the present, covering the movements and vitriolic commentary against the Masons, Catholics, Jews, Communists, and Muslims. A witty narrator, Goldwag combines his research with contemporary analysis to explain what conspiracy theories all have in common and to show how the new hate is the same as the old, though it’s now “hiding in plain sight.” The only thing different, which the election of the country’s first black president brought into sharper relief, is how much more mainstream hate has become thanks to the Internet and 24-hour cable news shows, with the populist Right’s obsessions becoming talking points for supposedly mainstream politicians to gain advantage with voters. The book is exhaustively well researched and passionately written, though Goldwag sometimes veers off to cover very obscure figures. Yet whether he’s analyzing the origins of Glenn Beck’s ideology or demystifying the Illuminati, Goldwag excels at showing how the obsessions of the past connect with those of the present. Agent: Victoria Skurnick, the Levine Greenberg Agency. (Feb.)
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