Past Present Podcast: Nazis in Charlottesville, the Google Memo, and Blondeness

Charlottesville Candlelight Vigil at the White House, Washington, DC USA

In this week’s episode of Past Present, Natalia, Neil, and Niki debate the role of neo-Nazis in the white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, the Google memo, and the political power of blondeness.

 Nazis in Charlottesville

We discussed the deadly attack by white nationalists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia. Niki has written about her experience in Charlottesville for U.S. News & World Report and for Vox. In thinking about the history of Nazism in the U.S., Natalia recommended James Q. Whitman’s book, Hitler’s American Model, which examines how Hitler looked to American race law as a blueprint for Nazi Germany. Niki added Nina Silber’s Washington Post piece, “Worshiping the Confederacy is about white supremacy – even the Nazis thought so,” to the conversation. Natalia also shared Kenneth Jackson’s book, The Ku Klux Klan in the City, for understanding the northern and urban origins of the twentieth century KKK, and Timothy Snyder’s Black Earth which shows how Nazism’s goal was to destroy current state borders to create a white “utopia.”

The Google Memo

Google fired the software engineer James Damore for writing a memo, “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” where he argued women and men didn’t experience systemic bias at the company. (You can read the 10-page document here.) Natalia pointed to a Wired article that debunked Damore’s scientific claims. Neil noted that Damore’s first sit-down interview with an alt-right leader belied his claim that the memo represented an objective scientific project with no ideological agenda. In discussing the history of women in Silicon Valley and the computing industry, Natalia recommended Ben Allen’s Public Books review of Matthew Kirschenbaum’s Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing, and Marie Hicks’ history of British women computer programmers, Programmed Inequality.


We debated Amy LaRocca’s article for The Cut, “Political Peroxide: Blonde Privilege.”

What’s Making History

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