Teaching Against White Nationalism: How One Historian Took Action

Historians in the News
tags: White Nationalism

Jeremy Best is assistant professor of history at Iowa State University. His research focuses on globalization, race, and religion among Protestant missionaries and their supporters in 19th-century Germany.

One week after the November 2016 election, white nationalist posters were hung on several buildings at Iowa State University in Ames (fig. 1). It was the second time that semester that such posters had appeared in the middle of the night on the campus where I teach history.

Iowa State is not alone. The Anti-Defamation League documented 159 incidents of racist fliers and stickers placed on 110 American college campuses in the 2016–17 academic year alone.

As they did the first time, university administrators removed the posters quickly and issued a brief press release and statement to the campus community. But as a white historian teaching at a majority white institution who researches the production and transmission of racial ideas in Germany, and as a teacher of modern German history, I could not hope the whole issue would go away, as our administration seemed to do.

I did not believe I would persuade these poster-hangers to cease their surreptitious business. Instead, I wanted to disrupt their deceptive identitarian message. I decided to set aside my lesson plan for the next day’s class and discuss the posters and their direct connection to the iconography and ideology of National Socialism.

Read entire article at AHA

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