AuthorLueders, Bill

Now and then I think about a young man I met across the street from the Wisconsin state capitol in April 2020, at a rally of far-righters opposing mandates designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19. He was in his early twenties, carrying guns including an assault-style rifle. Unlike almost every other protester in attendance, he was wearing a mask-but I gathered that it was mostly meant to disguise his identity.

We spoke for a while over the thunderous din from the crowd that numbered in the thousands, including people driving around the capitol. He said he was just exercising his rights. I questioned how he could present himself in such a way, calculated to stir fear. We didn't reach any agreement.

The protests against pandemic restrictions, egged on by then-President Donald Trump, reflect the far right's malignant denial of reality. A significant number of our fellow citizens don't believe that a virus that has killed more than 2.5 million people worldwide and more than 550,000 in the United States is real. But they are convinced that an election that withstood more than sixty legal challenges and was deemed by the Trump Administration itself as the "most secure" in U.S. history was stolen. They even tried to overthrow the government over it.

This wave of mass delusion among people like the young man I met has long roots, as the writers in this special issue devoted to the U.S. far right explore. Melissa Ryan, who sounded an alarm about the far right in an article for The Progressive's August/September 2019 issue, shows how today's Republican Party is in cahoots with "militia members, conspiracy theorists including QAnon believers, and those with white supremacist and other extremist views."

Matthew Lyons, the author of a 2018 book titled the Insurgent Supremacists: The U.S. Far Right's Challenge to State and Empire, gives an enlightening overview of the far right, with an eye to how it will evolve in the future. Luis Feliz Leon focuses on the far right's ties to the military and law enforcement agencies. Lexi McMenamin profiles a small but mighty...

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