A group of white supremacist neo-Nazis interrupted an author discussion Saturday at the popular Washington, DC bookstore Politics and Prose.
Author Jonathan Metzl, director of Vanderbilt University’s Center for Medicine, Health, and Society, was discussing his book “Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland,” when about 10 men thought to be from a group called the American Identity Movement—formerly known as Identity Evropa—barged into the bookstore with a megaphone and began chanting white supremacist slogans.
One of the men said, “You would have the white working class trade their homeland for handouts.” He added, “But we, as nationalists and identitarians, can offer the workers of this country a homeland, their birthright, in addition to health care, good jobs and so forth.”
As they walked through the bookstore and out the door, the men chanted, “This land is our land.” The incident lasted about 10 minutes.
They carried out this stunt as the aftermath of the mass shooting on the last day of Passover by a fellow white supremacist was unfolding at the Chabad of Poway synagogue outside San Diego, CA, which killed 60-year-old Lori Kaye and injured three others, including an 8-year-old girl, Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, and a visitor from Israel.
I haven’t read Metzl’s book, but The Washington Post describes the irony of Saturday’s interruption, given the book’s subject matter, as follows:
Metzl’s book explores how some lower- and middle-class white Americans are drawn to politicians who promise to improve their lives but who promote policies that place white Americans at greater risk of illness and death. His research found that people in states that rejected Medicaid expansion and blocked the full Affordable Care Act lived shorter lives and states that made it easier to buy guns saw hundreds more firearm deaths.
Appearing on MSNBC’s AM Joy on Sunday, Metzl said the group entered the bookstore “ironically at the moment in the talk where I was making the claim that America is better when we’re the most generous, the strongest, the most inclusive.”
He added that one man in the audience who had come to listen to the discussion was a member of one of the host families that helped Metzl’s father escape the Nazis in Austria and seek refuge in the U.S.
Members of the antifascist movement who have been diligently working to identify and expose members of the former group Identity Evropa, and now the American Identity Movement, said they had identified many of the participants in Saturday’s disruption.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted a message in response to both the attack at the Chabad of Poway and the disruption at Politics and Prose.
“Between the horrific act of hate and antisemitism at Chabad of Poway and the ignorance and hate from the white nationalists who interrupted a book talk today in DC, my heart is broken,” Bowser tweeted.
Metzl offered another positive take: