I was finally able to finish Rachel Maddow’s “Ultra” podcast during solo Thanksgiving travel. Even if Maddow’s old MSNBC show wasn’t your cup of tea, it’s worth a listen — the pacing, etc., is entirely different.
Attention binge listeners!
It's the moment you've been waiting for!
All Eight episodes of Rachel Maddow Presents: Ultra are now available.
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) November 21, 2022
The series is about an “America First” movement (sound familiar?) that gained popularity before the US entered WWII. Lots of Americans (including the most popular radio host at the time, civic and cultural bigwigs and dozens of members of Congress) joined the far-right, antisemitic, pro-fascist movement, and some engaged in nutty plots to overthrow the government and replace it with a fascist dictatorship.
The parallels to figures in the present day are often startling. The subject matter isn’t pleasant, but Maddow’s guests, including historians and journalists, keep the discussion lively and entertaining. Overall, I found it kind of comforting to know that Americans faced down this threat before and neutralized it. The methods used to shit-can the fascists then are also instructive for our time.
Not quite a spoiler: the justice system wasn’t fully equipped to stop the plot and punish the perpetrators — that required action from a lot of Americans, including journalists, activists and voters.
As an aside, it’s interesting that the story about a sprawling, pre-WWII fascist plot was so thoroughly stuffed down the memory hole. I’d heard of “American First” and certain prominent Americans’ antisemitism and fondness for fascism in the run up to WWII (Lindbergh, Coughlin, etc.), but most of stuff covered in the podcast was news to me. The saying about those who forget history comes to mind…
Anyhoo, check it out. Open thread.