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September 6, 2021 10 min

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As the Trump era brought spiking hate crimes, white supremacist rallies, and a renewed interest in racist online communities, journalist Talia Lavin began a fascinating social experiment aimed at understanding and exposing the white nationalist movement: She went undercover as an idealized Aryan date on white's-only dating sites. To disguise her own Jewish roots, Talia used images of an anonymous European huntress to set a trap for lonely white supremacists. The result of her investigation into the alt-right was 2020's acclaimed book, Culture Warlords. Nearly a year after its publication, Brie asked Talia about what drove her to want to enter the belly of the beast, what she learned, and whether her direct experiences with white supremacy have made her doubt the possibility of a broad, multiracial coalition. To what extent, if at all, is deprograming Nazis a useful goal? Is Nazi punching as scalable as addressing the social and economic marginalization endemic to some of her targets? Why not both? It was an unexpectedly spirited conversation that ended abruptly when Talia ended the interview. Did Brie push things too far?

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Produced by Ben Dalton (@wbend).

Theme by Nick Thorburn (@nickfromislands).

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