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Big Brains

Jan 7, 2019

The revelation for historian Kathleen Belew came while researching a 1979 anti-Ku Klux Klan rally in Greensboro, North Carolina that turned deadly when five members were murdered by a group of Klansmen and neo-Nazis. 

Belew was struck by the reflection of the killers, some of them Vietnam War veterans.

“They kept saying, ‘Well I shot communists in Vietnam, why wouldn’t I shoot communists in the United States?’” Belew says.

From those comments, Belew’s research has revealed a surprising history of how the Vietnam War created the modern white power movement, a thesis she details in her book, Brining the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America.

On this episode of Big Brains, Belew shares the previously unknown history of the social movement of the white power movement, from the 1970’s through the Oklahoma City bombing, and explains the tools she uses as an historian to better understand the present.  

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