home Must Reads Must reads: Neonazis, women in politics, YouTube mysteries, climate action, HIV

Must reads: Neonazis, women in politics, YouTube mysteries, climate action, HIV


Good morning, gentle readers! We’ve got some really stellar reads this morning that should keep you engrossed for hours as you gear up for the week — whether you’re interested in the bloom of neonazi culture, or the future of climate activism. Let’s dive in!

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Is there a neo-Nazi storm brewing in Trump country?‘ (Lois Beckett for The Guardian)

An increase in neonazi activity in the United States has many concerned, and this article delves into some of the reasons why the movement is proving wildly successful, including the leveraging of populist politics to appeal to people who feel downtrodden and unheard. Someone who doesn’t think ‘white pride’ is the solution to their problems can be persuaded via other means, and the results are an ominous sign for America’s future.

Their political party had been misrepresented, Heimbach explained to the waitresses. They’re not the KKK. They’re focused on family and faith and local control, on fighting the international corporations who came into Appalachia and took all the profits from Kentucky’s coal. Heimbach did not try to sell the waitresses on his plan for a white ethno-state, his conviction that the Holocaust did not happen, his belief in thousands of years of Jewish conspiracy. He just talked about family struggles and immigrants taking jobs and hurting workers and how white Americans needed more representation.

For the First Time, Death Threats Forced a Woman Out of a Congressional Race. It Won’t Be the Last.‘ (Sady Doyle for Elle)

Politics can be nasty, and the tone of political discourse has taken a distinct downhill trajectory in recent years. While it shouldn’t be the case, some women in politics have come to accept constant abuse on social media, in their inboxes, and on their phones as the price of doing business. Now, however, death threats and intimidation are driving women out of the political sphere, which should be very, very worrisome.

And yet, between men and women, women still receive an elevated level of specifically gendered hostility that makes campaigning or governing as a woman more fraught. One man tweeted at Julia Gillard over 300 times in two years, sending a string of “violent and sexually graphic messages” so abusive that the Guardian couldn’t print them. Compared to that, a few thousand people calling Bernie Sanders or Kevin Rudd “idiots,” which was the most common insult for both men, seems practically civil.

Welcome to Poppy’s World‘ (Lexi Pandell for Wired)

YouTube can be a strange place, and this is an absolutely fascinating dive into the world of ‘Poppy,’ an enigmatic, confusing, complicated character in the YouTube ecosystem. She makes strange, haunting, bizarre, avant garde videos that are simultaneously repulsive and fascinating, compelling and confusing. But who is she? That’s not a question with a simple answer, because she’s also incredibly secretive, for a woman who lives out loud on the internet.

Poppy is in character. As in her videos, her voice is whispery and feminine. She often refers to herself in the third person (“Comedy Central likes Poppy, so they gave her a show,” she says at one point). It is, to say the least, awkward. I find myself doing most of the talking. When she does answer my questions, her replies are clipped, like a shy child or a particularly creative chat bot.

Michael Foster Is Defiant‘ (Kathryn Robinson for Seattle Met)

In October 2016, a coordinated action shut down large swaths of oil transportation infrastructure in a protest against fossil fuels. The activists involved believe that the time is now for action, and that in the absence of decisive moves on the part of governments and communities, it’s necessary to take a monkeywrench to the proceedings. Now, Michael Foster, their outspoken leader, faces two decades in prison, and he’s unrepentant. Who is he? What brought him to this breaking point?

Asked what will befall humankind in the absence of immediate action, he’ll shift and dodge, until, pressed, he puts his head in his hands. “I don’t want to focus on whether or not we become roving bands of cannibals looking for gasoline,” he says, agitated. “I can talk about the gloom and doom, but every time I do I have to say, ‘It’s here! Life is here!’ We have to live as if the future matters—today!”

America’s Hidden H.I.V. Epidemic‘ (Linda Villarosa for New York Times Magazine)

Many in positions of privilege think of the HIV crisis as something that has resolved, and of HIV as a chronic condition to be easily managed with medications. However, in some American communities, HIV is still very much an aggressive public health emergency, and it’s one that’s paradoxically getting worse in a nation that prides itself on having the best health care on Earth. This piece explores why, though Americans are facing a looming question: With GOP-led changes to healthcare policy, is this problem going to get worse?

The crisis is most acute in Southern states, which hold 37 percent of the country’s population and as of 2014 accounted for 54 percent of all new H.I.V. diagnoses. The South is also home to 21 of the 25 metropolitan areas with the highest H.I.V. prevalence among gay and bisexual men. Jackson, the capital of Mississippi, the country’s poorest state, is best known for blues, barbecue and “The Help.” It also has the nation’s highest rate — 40 percent — of gay and bisexual men living with H.I.V., followed by Columbia, S.C.; El Paso; Augusta, Ga.; and Baton Rouge, La.

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Photo: Fibonacci Blue/Creative Commons