David Neiwert’s “Alt-America” is the result of years of watching, researching and reporting.
Seattle author David Neiwert has followed the radical right since his days as a newspaper editor in Sand Point, Idaho, in the late 1970s, when the neo-Nazi group Aryan Nations was putting down roots in northern Idaho. He and his publisher decided to ignore them, on the premise that “all they wanted was publicity,” Neiwert recalls, adding: “Clearly a bad idea.”
The paper would reverse that decision, and Neiwert, working newspaper jobs in Idaho, Montana and Washington, would continue to cover the extreme right. He was inspired by Idaho’s Bill Wassmuth, a former Roman Catholic priest and human-rights activist whose home was bombed by the Aryan Nations. “He would talk about how difficult it was to work with journalists because they would parachute in, then wander off to the next story. He said this is a subject that deserves to be treated as a regular beat.”
Neiwert has observed, researched and reported as the extreme right has flared, then fizzled, then roared back, fueled by resentment of the election of Barack Obama as president and energized by the internet and Donald Trump, whose election has energized the movement’s ranks. (Neiwert calls Trump “the gateway drug for the extreme right.”) He chronicles that history in a thoroughly frightening new book, “Alt-America: The Rise of The Radical Right in the Age of Trump” (Verso, 456 pp., $29.95). He answered some questions about his new book, at booksellers Oct. 16. Here’s an edited version of that conversation:
The author of “Alt-America” will appear at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24 at University Lutheran Church, 1604 N.E. 50th St., Seattle. Tickets are $5 and available through townhallseattle.org and at the door. Ticket information: 1-888-377-4510.
Q: You describe “Alt-America,” a community of true believers…