Teaching About White Nationalism: History Professor Offers Guidance

Assistant Professor of History Jeremy Best deployed his expertise in modern German history to explain the rise of white nationalism in the United States and offer suggestions on how to teach about it. His article, “Teaching Against White Nationalism: How One Historian Took Action,” is in the December 2017 newsletter of the American Historical Association, Perspectives on History.

Dr. Best recalls his response to the appearance of white nationalist posters on the ISU campus shortly after the November 2016 election. He decided the most appropriate course of action for a historian was to focus his message on politically moderate students who may be committed to an inclusive, multicultural worldview but needed the tools to apply it to this new reality. He helped students decode the posters, illustrating their links to Nazi propaganda with its racist and misogynistic message of Aryan supremacy. The result of the discussions he fostered was, he writes, positive: students sought to open dialogue with those who may have seen the posters as mild efforts to counter the apparent threat of diversity.

The article can be found here: Teaching Against White Nationalism: How One Historian Took Action