At the farmers market, I found something I didn’t expect–White supremacists.
by Rebecca Bratten Weiss
August 9, 2021
The ultimate symbol of this reorientation toward the local is the farmers market. […]
Farmers markets across the nation and even abroad have, in recent years, begun to attract White supremacist groups. Kelly Weill reported in the Daily Beast that “the far right’s love of the markets plays into a larger fascist talking point that idealizes pastoral life and demonizes ‘degenerate’ urban living. The contrast attempts to cast white supremacy as a purer alternative.” Weill’s story was inspired by a 2019 incident in the progressive college town of Bloomington, Indiana, in which a local farmers market ousted farmer Sarah Dye, known as “Volkmom” in the White supremacist group Identity Evropa. Other farmers began to sell pins that read “Don’t buy veggies from Nazis.”
Yes, the “America first” ideology is widespread in our rural communities, where a preference for natural food and holistic medicine doesn’t always signal progressive politics but rather a distrust of urban liberals, coastal elites, and shadowy globalist influences. But a similar mechanism has functioned in anti-globalist movements abroad, connecting love of the local with fear of foreign influence and opposition to the influx of ethnically diverse immigrant groups.
Consider the Brexit phenomenon in the United Kingdom. While the movement to leave the European Union was driven by many complex factors, including a distrust of neoliberal capitalism, Brexit likely never would have happened were it not for a spirit of hostility to and fear of the outsider–specifically, the UK’s diverse immigrant population. So it is troubling to note that, according to a survey by industry publication Farmers Weekly, a majority of farmers voted to leave the EU in spite of forecasts that Brexit would harm farmers and farming. It is hard to think of the British agrarian countryside as anything other than benign, but the painful truth is that these communities are overwhelmingly White.
Distinctions between insiders and outsiders become crucial to group identity, with all that is depraved and corrupt relegated to the dangerous world outside the closed circle.[…] In our enthusiasm to reorient our politics and economics toward the local, we need to be aware of how localism can go wrong. This means learning to recognize strains of thinking that, intentionally or not, can lead to nationalist prejudices. Variants on localism that normalize prejudice or insist on a closed community, rather than intersecting communities with open gates and doors, are dangerous. Words like globalist are often deployed as a dog whistle for “Jewish”–as a covert antisemitic slur. Localism as a defense of Western values, or as a preservation of White, Western civilization as some kind of fundamentally superior society, is shorthand for White supremacy.
Weiss finished her piece by saying that if you disagree with her you’re not a Christian.