What Does Music Say About The Future Of White Nationalism?

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Photo: Charlottesville AP Image
In this Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, file photo, white nationalist demonstrators walk into the entrance of Lee Park surrounded by counter demonstrators in Charlottesville, Va.

Like other political movements, white nationalism has shifted over time. Benjamin R. Teitelbaum, an assistant professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Colorado Boulder, has been spent much of his career tracking those changes by listening to white nationalist music.

He claims to have heard a moderation in the movement. Aggressive skinhead rock dominated in the 1990s. Over the last few decades, the soundtrack shifted toward mournful odes to a dying white race.

At the same time, leaders in Europe tried to take white nationalism into the political mainstream. Swedish anti-immigrant leader Daniel Friberg traded in his skinhead style for a suit and sunglasses. The buttoned-down image helped him sell his ideology as just another political alternative.

That's why Teitelbaum noted Friberg's attendance at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Teitelbaum wrote that white nationalists have moved from "accommodating critics to ignoring them." Going forward, he told Colorado Matters, activists may become more open about their political views. They could also embrace the antagonistic tactics of the so-called alt-right.

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