The New Hate
A History of Fear and Loathing on the Populist Right
By Arthur Goldwag
(Pantheon, Hardcover, 9780307379696, 384pp.)
Publication Date: February 7, 2012
List Price: $27.95*
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From “Birthers” who claim that Barack Obama was not born in the United States to counter-jihadists who believe that the Constitution is in imminent danger of being replaced with Sharia law, conspiratorial beliefs have become an increasingly common feature of our public discourse. In this deeply researched, fascinating exploration of the ideas and rhetoric that have animated extreme, mostly right-wing movements throughout American history, Arthur Goldwag reveals the disturbing pattern of fear-mongering and demagoguery that runs through the American grain.
The New Hate takes readers on a surprising, often shocking, sometimes bizarrely amusing tour through the swamps of nativism, racism, and paranoid speculations about money that have long thrived on the American fringe. Goldwag shows us the parallels between the hysteria about the Illuminati that wracked the new American Republic in the 1790s and the McCarthyism that roiled the 1950s, and he discusses the similarities between the anti–New Deal forces of the 1930s and the Tea Party movement today. He traces Henry Ford’s anti-Semitism and the John Birch Society’s “Insiders” back to the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and he relates white supremacist nightmares about racial pollution to nineteenth-century fears of papal plots.
“The most salient feature of what I have come to call the New Hate,” Goldwag writes, “is its sameness across time and space. The most depressing thing about the demagogues who tirelessly exploit it—in pamphlets and books and partisan newspapers two centuries ago, on Web sites, electronic social networks, and twenty-four-hour cable news today—is how much alike they all turn out to be.”
Arthur Goldwag is the author of Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies and ’Isms & ’Ologies. A freelance writer and editor for more than thirty years, he has worked at Book-of-the-Month Club, Random House, and The New York Review of Books. He lives in New York City.
“An informative and lively history of organized hate groups and their role in U.S. politics . . . 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’ . . . Exhaustively well researched and passionately written . . . 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.”
“A well-reported study of disaffected groups who hate other groups whose members look or think differently than the haters . . . Goldwag terms the phenomenon "the paranoid style of hatred," and shows how that style has been linked to conspiracy theories for hundreds of years. The author examines with special depth hatreds against Jews, Catholics, Freemasons, African-Americans and the extremely wealthy. With the election of President Obama, the haters coalesced against what they saw as an obvious enemy. Goldwag is able to effectively use the hatreds toward Obama to illustrate the irrationality of the haters . . . A provocative, intellectually rigorous book written clearly and with an admirable lack of hatred.”
—Kirkus (starred review)
“Wide-ranging narrative . . . A useful primer on the nation's ‘long-standing penchant for conspiratorial thinking, its never-ending quest for scapegoats’ . . . [Goldwag’s] thoroughness in exploring this subject is impressive . . . If there's any comfort in this dispiriting account, it's that the conspiracy-minded have (largely) been confined to the margins of American political and cultural life. That's small consolation, though, when balanced against the unavoidable conclusion that the haters will always be with us or, as Goldwag puts it, the realization that ‘the New Hate is the same as the Old Hate—only now it's hiding in plain sight.’”
“One wishes that Goldwag were exaggerating, but if you spend a little time reading the vile comments sections on right-wing websites you will see that Goldwag has performed a valuable service in tracing the history of the new hate to the old.”
—Ron Rosenbaum, author of Explaining Hitler and How the End Begins: The Road to a Nuclear World War III
“Goldwag provides a lucid and detailed account of the irrational and bigoted right-wing populists and their conspiracy theories of power in the United States. These conspiracists are like intellectual vampires sucking the blood out of the body politic and leaving behind a weakened democracy in a fading twilight for civil society. Goldwag illuminates the conspiracists to reverse their trajectory of increasing influence, which is a periodic problem for our nation.”
—Chip Berlet, co-author Right-Wing Populism in America
“Arthur Goldwag confronts conspiracist fantasies and paranoia with reason and humanity—not to mention the briskness and drama of great historical storytelling. His dissection of how the political fringe has edged into mainstream culture deserves the attention and admiration of everyone who is concerned about the coarsening of our politics.”
—Mitch Horowitz, author of Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation
“This exhumation of the deep and gnarled roots of the American conspiratorial tradition could not be more timely. Combining a sweeping historical eye and sharp contemporary analysis, Arthur Goldwag explains not just why American politics in the Age of Obama is infected by a virulent strain of right-wing conspiracism—but why it has always been thus. From the Bavarian Illuminati of Adam Weishaupt, to the Tea Party Idiocracy of Michelle Malkin, The New Hate covers everything you need to know about the paranoid style in American politics.”
—Alex Zaitchik, author of Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance
“The New Hate is a timely examination of the deep roots of the conspiracy theories that have animated the American radical right for more than a century. This important book gives readers the background they need to understand the astounding extremist rhetoric that now passes for mainstream political debate.”
—Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center