Alexander Laban HintonJun 30, 2021
It Can Happen Here
White Power and the Rising Threat of Genocide in the US
NYU Press 2021
If many people were shocked by Donald Trump’s 2016 election, many more were stunned when, months later, white supremacists took to the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, chanting “Blood and Soil” and “Jews will not replace us!” Like Trump, the Charlottesville marchers were dismissed as aberrations—crazed extremists who did not represent the real US.
It Can Happen Here: White Power and the Rising Threat of Genocide in the US (NYU Press, 2021) demonstrates that, rather than being exceptional, such white power extremism and the violent atrocities linked to it are a part of American history. And, alarmingly, they remain a very real threat to the US today. Hinton explains how murky politics, structural racism, the promotion of American exceptionalism, and a belief that the US has have achieved a color-blind society have diverted attention from the deep roots of white supremacist violence in the US’s brutal past. Drawing on his years of research and teaching on mass violence, Hinton details the warning signs of impending genocide and atrocity crimes, the tools used by ideologues to fan the flames of hate, and the shocking ways in which “us” versus “them” violence is supported by inherently racist institutions and policies. It Can Happen Here is an essential new assessment of the dangers of contemporary white power extremism in the United States. While revealing the threat of genocide and atrocity crimes that loom over the country, Hinton offers actions we can take to prevent it from happening, illuminating a hopeful path forward for a nation in crisis.
Jeff Bachman is Senior Lecturer in Human Rights at American University’s School of International Service in Washington, DC.