I received quite a bit of feedback from last week’s newsletter, Five Ways to Fight Fascism. A few folks wrote in with some of their own suggestions or things y’all are already doing in your communities or things you’d like to happen. But I also received some questions and requests to dig in more on how to document local far-right activity. This week, I’ll expand on that idea further.
First, let’s talk about why it matters. As I wrote earlier this month, the Right is tearing society apart piece by piece, and we’re all living under a constant threat of political violence. They’ve refocused their efforts locally, and we’re seeing it play out in School Board meetings, local elections, threats, intimidation and violence. People on the ground know it’s happening, and there’s local reporting of individual incidents but I’ve yet to see an exhaustive record of far-right activity from one town or county.
Local journalism has been decimated, and the outlets that remain generally do not have the budget for enough reporters or investigative reporting. The Right has used this to their advantage, using local social media community groups to spread fear, disinformation, and conspiracies. They’ve also turned local public meetings into vehicles for their own viral stardom. With these advantages, the Right can dominate the local civic discourse, and heavily influence any national press coverage of a community.
Tracking far-right activity in a community, and making it available to journalists, civic leaders, and activists, is a labor-intensive but simple way to start to push back. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy. A Google doc and/or spreadsheet is an easy way for a couple of people (I wouldn’t attempt something like this alone.) to start. Down the road, you can add things like social media accounts or a website to report what’s happening and start to tell the story of how the far-right is negatively impacting where you live.
A few suggestions of what to track:
- Far-Right candidates for elected office
- Far-Right elected officials and public officials
- Far-Right GOP party officials
- Hate groups operating in the area. (SPLC has this information organized by geographic location.)