Contemporary White Supremacy in America: What are its Links to the Nazi Past?

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Contemporary White Supremacy in America:

What are its Links to the Nazi Past?

The Center for Jewish Civilization at Georgetown University is pleased to announce a day-long conference entitled “Contemporary White Supremacy in America: What are its Links to the Nazi Past?” Held at the National Press Club, this forum seeks to examine how hate groups in the United States draw upon ideas, propaganda, recruiting techniques, and worldviews from the Nazi era. In what ways do extremists in this country invoke the anti-Semitic theories and practices of their Nazi forerunners? And in what ways do they diverge and/or offer new perspectives and tools for disseminating hatred of Jews and others? Join us and our slate of renowned scholars, diplomats, journalists, and practitioners as we try to make sense of the current extremist moment in the United States. This event is free and open to the public.

When: Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Where: National Press Club, 529 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20045

RSVP REQUIRED to all, or part, of the conference here.

All registered attendees will be receiving a specialized QR code that they must present at the door to gain entry into the conference.

For accessibility concerns, please contact the National Press Club at 202-662-7500.

Schedule of Events*


Jacques Berlinerblau, Rabbi Harold White Professor of Jewish Civilization, Director, Center for Jewish Civilization, Georgetown University


Lara Logan, Former Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, CBS News

Fr. Patrick Desbois, Braman Endowed Professor of the Practice of the Forensic Study of the Holocaust, Center for Jewish Civilization, Georgetown University; President, Yahad-In Unum

Christian Picciolini, Co-founder, Life After Hate, Author, White American Youth: My Descent into America’s Most Violent Hate Movement–and How I Got Out.



Wendy Lower, John K. Roth Professor of History, George R. Roberts Fellow, Claremont McKenna College; Director, Mgrublian Center for Human Rights

Norman Goda, Norman and Irma Braman Professor of Holocaust Studies, University of Florida

Andrej Umansky, Braman Endowed Fellow of the Practice of the Forensic Study of the Holocaust, Center for Jewish Civilization, Georgetown University


Kristen Clarke, President, National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law


Jessica Roda, Assistant Professor, Center for Jewish Civilization, Georgetown University

Kirsten Dyck, Affiliate Adjunct Professor, Department of History, James Madison University

J. Mackenzie Pierce, Sosland Fellow, Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum



Anna Sommer, Associate Director, Center for Jewish Civilization, Georgetown University

Seyward Darby, Editor in Chief, The Atavist Magazine

Wendy Lower, John K. Roth Professor of History, George R. Roberts Fellow, Claremont McKenna College; Director, Mgrublian Center for Human Rights


Danielle Pletka, Senior Vice President for Foreign and Defense Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Visiting Lecturer, Center for Jewish Civilization, Georgetown University

Bart Bonikowski, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Harvard University

Benjamin Hett, Professor, Department of History, Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY


Ira Forman, Former U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, U.S. Department of State; Senior Fellow, Center for Jewish Civilization, Georgetown University


*This schedule is subject to change. Please check our website frequently for updates.

Jacques Berlinerblau

Jacques Berlinerblau is the Rabbi Harold White Professor and Director of Jewish Civilization in the Walsh School of ForeignService. Holding separate doctorates in Sociology and ancient Near Eastern languages he has published 8 books and written dozens of scholarly articles on subjects ranging from Secularism, to Jewish-American literature, to African-American and Jewish-American relations. His next book project is on the fiction of Philip Roth. His latest publication is Campus Confidential: How College Works, or Doesn’t, for Professors, Parents, and Students, published in 2017 by Melville House.

Lara Logan

Lara Logan has served as CBS News’s Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent since 2006. Over the last few decades she has received international recognition for her reporting in high-risk war zones and areas of political unrest. Before being promoted from her correspondent position in 2002 at CBS, Logan’s work as a reporter, editor, and producer appeared in numerous reputed outlets including CNN, NBC, Fox/SKY, ABC in London, the European Broadcast Union, and Reuters Television in Africa. She is the recipient of several awards including the Daniel Pearl Award (2011), the John F. Hogan Distinguished Service Award (2011), the John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award (2011), an Emmy Award (2008), the Association of International Broadcasters’ Best International News Story Award (2007), five American Women in Radio and Television Gracie Awards (between 2000 and 2008), and the Radio & Television Association David Bloom Award (2008).

Father Patrick Desbois

Father Desbois is President and Founder of Yahad- In Unum. In 2015, Desbois launched the initiative Action Yazidis which seeks to uncover facts of the Yazidi genocide committed by ISIS. He is the former director of the National Service of French Bishops for Relations with Judaism, and is presently Advisor to the Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with the Jews. Desbois holds several degrees and honorary degrees. He is the recipient of the “LBJ Moral Courage Award” by the Holocaust Museum Houston, and the Lantos Human Rights Prize from the Lantos Foundation. He has written several books on his genocide research and is the winner of the 2008 National Jewish Book Award. His latest publication is In Broad Daylight: The Secret Procedures Behind the Holocaust by Bullets, published in 2018 by Skyhorse.

Christian Picciolini

Christian Picciolini is an award-winning television producer, a public speaker, author, peace advocate, and a reformed violent extremist. His life’s work bears witness to an ongoing and profound need to atone for a grisly past, and an urgency to make something of his time on this planet by contributing to the greater good. After leaving the violent hate movement he helped create during his youth, he began the painstaking process of rebuilding his life. While working for IBM, Christian earned a degree in international relations from DePaul University, and later began his own global media firm. In 2009, Christian cofounded Life After Hate, a nonprofit dedicated to helping others counter racism and violent extremism. He is currently working to help build the world’s first global network of extremism preventionists, who are helping people disengage from hate movements and other violent ideologies around the globe. In 2016, Christian won an Emmy Award for his role in directing and producing an anti-hate advertising campaign aimed at helping youth disengage from white-supremacist groups. He has worked as an adjunct professor at the college level, and is a frequent commentator on national and international news networks. Christian Picciolini’s memoir and latest publication, WHITE AMERICAN YOUTH: My Descent into America’s Most Violent Hate Movement—and How I Got Out, where he details his involvement in, and eventual exit from, the early American white-supremacist skinhead movement, was published by Hachette Books in 2018.

Wendy Lower

Professor Wendy Lower is the Director of the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights and the John K. Roth Professor of History and George R. Roberts Fellow at Claremont McKenna College. She is the author of Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields, a 2013 finalist for the National Book Award. A few of her other books are The Diary of Samuel Golfard and the Holocaust in Eastern Galicia, Lanham MD: Altamira/Rowman and Littlefield and USHMM, 2011, The Shoah in Ukraine: History, Testimony, Memorialization, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008 (co-edited with Ray Brandon) and Nazi Empire-Building and the Holocaust in Ukraine, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press and USHMM, 2005 (paperback, 2007, audio version 2010).

Norman Goda

Norman J.W. Goda is the Norman and Irma Braman Professor of Holocaust Studies. He received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He studies modern European history and specializes in the history of the Holocaust, war crimes trials, and twentieth century diplomacy. He teaches a variety of courses on the Holocaust and Nazi Germany from historical and interdisciplinary perspectives. He is the author of Tomorrow the World: Hitler, Northwest Africa, and the Path toward America (1998); Tales from Spandau: Nazi Criminals and the Cold War (2007); The Holocaust: Europe, the World, and the Jews (2013). He has also co-authored, with Richard Breitman, US Intelligence and the Nazis (2005) and Hitler’s Shadow: Nazi War Criminals, US Intelligence and the Cold War (2010). He has published articles in various journals including the Journal of Modern History, The International History Review, and The Journal of Contemporary History, and his work has been the subject of stories by the The New York Times, the Associated Press, US News and World Report, and other major news outlets. Goda has served as a consultant to the US and German governments, as well as for various radio, television, and film documentaries in the US, Europe, and Israel. His latest publication, Jewish Histories of the Holocaust: New Transnational Approaches (Making Sense of History), was published by Berghahn Books in 2016.

Andrej Umansky

Andrej is a Research Fellow, Faculty of Law at the Institute for Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure, University of Cologne, Germany, and is historical and legal advisor to Yahad-in-Unum. He obtained a master’s degree in French and German law from the Universities of Cologne and Paris I and another master’s degree in the history of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe from the University of Paris IV. In 2016, he finished his PhD at the University Amiens, France, about the Holocaust in the Northern Caucasus in 1942-43. His work led informed his book, La Shoah a l’Est: Regards d’Allemands. He serves as Secretary General for the Yahad In-Unum.

Keynote Speaker: Kristen Clarke

Kristen Clarke is the president and executive director of the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, an organization that seeks to promote fair housing and community development, economic justice, voting rights, equal educational opportunity, criminal justice, judicial diversity and more.

Ms. Clarke’s career has been dedicated to the strengthened American democracy by combating discrimination faced by African Americans and other marginalized community. She has pursued that calling through careers at the Civil Rights Bureau for the New York State Attorney General’s Office, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., and the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. Within each position, she has served the country through the enforcement of civil rights on matters such as criminal justice, education and housing discrimination, fair lending, voting rights, immigrants’ rights, gender equality, reproductive access, LGBT issues, police misconduct and brutality, and human trafficking.

Her honors and awards include the 2018 Louis L. Redding Lifetime Achievement Award, 2018 Harvard College Service to Society Award, the 2017 Choate Rosemary Hall Alumni of the Year, the 2017 Thurgood Marshall Award from Quinnipiac University School of Law, the 2016 Alumni of the Year by the National Black Law Students Association, the New York Law Journal’s 2015 Rising Stars, the 2014 New York State Senate Proclamation for Exemplary Service, the 2012 Best Brief Award for the 2012 Supreme Court term from the National Association of Attorneys General, among others.

Jessica Roda

Jessica Roda is an anthropologist and ethnomusicologist currently serving as an Assistant Professor at the Center for Jewish Civilization. She earned Ph.D.s from both Sorbonne University and the University of Montreal where she studied political implications of Sephardic and Arab-Jewish music and the Unesco Convention of Intangible Cultural Heritage, respectively. More recently, Dr. Roda began an ethnography of Ultra-Religious Jewish Life in Montreal and New York City. Before joining the Center, Dr. Roda was a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University (Department of Jewish Studies), Concordia University (Department of History and Anthropology/Sociology), and University of Quebec in Montreal (Canada Research Chair in Urban Heritage). In 2014, she was selected by the Royal Society of Canada and the Science Coucil of Japan to participate in WISET Program. She has been a visiting scholar at UCLA (Department of Ethnomusicology), Columbia University (Heyman Center), and Universidade Estadual de Cambinas, Brazil. Beyond her academic life, she is also trained as a pianist, flutist, and modern-jazz dancer (City of Paris Conservatory). Her latest publication, “From French Guiana to Hasidic Montreal,” was published in  the Association of Jewish Studies magazine, AJS Perspectives, in 2018.

Kirsten Dyck

Kirsten Dyck is the author of Reichsrock: The International Web of White-Power and Neo-Nazi Hate Music (Rutgers University Press, 2017). She currently works as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in the English Philology Department at Poltava National V.G. Korolenko Pedagogical University in Poltava, Ukraine.  She is also an Affiliate Adjunct Professor with the History Department at James Madison University. She has held fellowships with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the German-American Fulbright Commission, and The Auschwitz Jewish Center. She holds a BFA in Music and an MA in Ethnomusicology from York University in Toronto, Canada, as well as a PhD in American Studies from Washington State University.

J. Mackenzie Pierce

Mackenzie Pierce received his PhD in musicology from Cornell University and is currently a visiting fellow at the Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. His articles have been published or are forthcoming in the Journal of Musicology, 19th-Century Music, and in the first edited volume devoted to the composer Roman Palester. His research has led to collaborations with international scholarly communities and performers. A highlight of this work was the scholarship and performance festival “Forbidden Songs” in spring 2018, which featured six US premieres of works by Palester and the premiere of Poland’s first postwar feature film with new English subtitles. His research has been supported by fellowships and grants from the Polin Museum for the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, the Title VIII Program of the US State Department, the Kosciuszko Foundation, and the Beinecke Foundation.

Anna Sommer Schneider

Anna Sommer Schneider is Associate Director and Associate Teaching Professor for the Center for Jewish Civilization. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Jewish Studies at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland. She is the author of She’erit Hapletah: Surviving Remnant. The Activities of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Poland, 1945-1989 (2014, Published in Polish) and co-author of Rescue, Relief and Renewal: 100 Years of the Joint in Poland (2014), and she co-curated an exhibition of the same title that year. She is also the author of numerous scholarly and critical articles of Holocaust memory and the history of the Jews in post-World War II Poland. Her most recent writings include “The Survival of ‘Yiddishkeit’: Impact of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee on Jewish Education in Poland, 1945-1989.” She served as a guide and educator at the State Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oświęcim between 1998-2018.

Seyward Darby

Seyward Darby serves as the editor in chief of The Atavist Magazine. She formerly held positions at other esteemed news sources as deputy editor of Foreign Policy and online editor of The New Republic. In September 2017, her article on women in the alt-right movement, “Rise of the Valkyries”, was chosen as the cover story for Harper’s Magazine. Her scholarship on the topic has been spotlighted by National Public Radio. Currently, Darby is writing a book about women and white nationalism in America. Her focus is on social justice and culture.

Danielle Pletka

Danielle Pletka is senior vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where she oversees the Institute’s work on foreign policy and the Middle East. She has master’s degree from the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Smith College. Her most recent publication is a report entitled “Tehran Stands atop the Syria-Iran Alliance,” published in 2017 by the Atlantic Council.

Bart Bonikowski

Bart Bonikowski is an Associate Professor of Sociology and a faculty affiliate of the Center for European Studies, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and the Institute for Quantitative Social Science. Relying primarily on innovative survey and network analysis methods, his research applies insights from cultural sociology to the study of politics. Bonikowski’s most recent work examined the impact of trade and IGO networks on cross-national attitude diffusion, as well as the consequences of within- and between-country variation in popular understandings of the nation-state for political change. He is currently launching a new project on the logic of populist discourse in democratic polities, focusing on popular attitudes, media representations, and political messaging. Bonikowski’s publications have appeared in the American Sociological Review, The International Journal of Comparative Sociology, and a number of edited volumes. His latest publication, “Populism and Nationalism in a Comparative Perspective: A Scholarly Exchange,” can be found in Nations and Nationalism. 

Benjamin Hett

Benjamin Hett was born in Rochester, New York but grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, leaving him with a lifelong if mostly heartbreaking attachment to the Edmonton Oilers of the NHL. He earned a BA in Political Science and English Literature from the University of Alberta (1987) and then a J.D. from the University of Toronto (1990). Four years of legal practice – it felt like eight – convinced him to return to the University of Toronto for an MA in History (1995) before he moved on to Harvard for a Ph.D. (2001). For two years he taught in the History and Literature program at Harvard alongside advising graduate students at the Harvard Law School. In 2003 he joined the faculty of Hunter College and in 2006 that of the Graduate Center, CUNY. Hett’s work has gradually shifted from a focus on the theory and practice of criminal law in Germany, through the legacy of National Socialism in postwar Germany, to the Second World War on the Eastern front and the work of West German intelligence services in the 1950s. He is the author of three books (Death in the Tiergarten, 2004; Crossing Hitler, 2008; Burning the Reichstag, 2014) and a number of articles. Hett has been a recipient of the Hans Rosenberg Prize for the best article on German history by a North American scholar; the Fraenkel Prize from the Wiener Library in London; and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies. His latest publication,The Death of Democracy: Hitler’s Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic was published by Henry Holt and Co. in 2018.

Ira Forman

Ira N. Forman is a Senior Fellow on Anti-Semitism at the Center for Jewish Civilization and a Senior Fellow at the Moment Institute. In the fall of 2018, he was appointed Senior Advisor on Anti-Semitism at Human Rights First. Mr. Forman served as the State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism from 2013-2017.  From 2011-2012 he served as the Jewish Outreach Director for the Obama for America campaign. He also served for nearly 15 years as the Executive Director of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC). Mr. Forman received his B.A. from Harvard University where he graduated Magna Cum Laude in Government. He received his M.B.A. from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. He co-edited and wrote for the reference book Jews In American Politics.