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New season of Sounds Like Hate podcast dives deeper into radicalization, white supremacy

The second season of the Southern Poverty Law Center podcast Sounds Like Hate, which launches today, continues its investigation into a violent neo-Nazi group and offers listeners an in-depth analysis of the “Lost Cause” movement to preserve monuments glorifying the Confederacy and those fighting to remove these monuments to white supremacy.

Geraldine Moriba and Jamila Paksima return as hosts of the series, which is available on all major podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher and TuneIn. You can also listen at soundslikehate.org.

Season one of the series provided listeners with insight into The Base – a terroristic neo-Nazi group that believes the United States should be pushed toward collapse so that a white ethnostate can rise in its place. In the second season, listeners meet one of the organization’s recruits, along with family members who hope to deter him from radicalization.

The new season also delves into why many people across the country wish to keep more than 1,700 Confederate flags, monuments and other symbols on display in public spaces, perpetuating the revisionist notion that the Civil War was fought not to maintain slavery but rather to defend the South against Northern aggression.

“Confederate monuments are symbols of hate and white supremacy, yet there are believers in the ‘Lost Cause’ who seek to whitewash or erase the dreadful truth of this chapter in U.S. history,” said Susan Corke, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project. “The process of removing them is not simple; it seeks to democratically resolve big questions about representation, history and memory in America.” 

A tactical switch

The first season included three episodes about The Base.

In season two’s “Baseless: Part IV,” listeners will gain exclusive access to a family farm in Michigan that a 17-year-old Base member turned into a paramilitary training ground for The Base until it was raided by the FBI. Moriba and Paksima interview the young recruit’s father and grandmother, who explain their attempts to deter him from a dangerous path by initiating a criminal investigation of The Base. 

“The first episode of our new season of Sounds Like Hate explores most parents’ worst nightmare,” said Corke. “This season allows listeners to not only meet one of the organization’s recruits, but to hear from family members who hope to deter him from radicalization. We also help listeners – especially parents – know what they should or could be doing to prevent radicalization in young people.

“Parents can greatly increase their ability to spot signs of radicalization and intervene effectively by reading this guide, which was produced by Dr. Cynthia Miller-Idriss of the PERIL lab at American University and SPLC.”

“Baseless: Part V” follows the trail of another young white supremacist in Massachusetts whose radicalization began in high school. The episode shows how young adults are indoctrinated into believing the false narratives about “white genocide” and the “great replacement” theory, which holds that white people in Western countries are being systematically replaced by immigrants of color. It also examines how extremists often move from one white nationalist group to another, a path that some traveled – from the Patriot Front to the Proud Boys and other groups – before storming the U.S. Capitol during the deadly insurrection on Jan. 6.

‘Monumental Problems’

Season two also closely examines the reverence among some Southerners for the “Lost Cause,” a version of history that erases the legacy of hundreds of years of slavery and Jim Crow segregation.

“Monumental Problems” focuses on local resistance to removing publicly displayed Confederate monuments and symbols by introducing Camille Bennett of Project Say Something, who discusses how the historical preservation of Confederate monuments perpetuates white supremacy.

This three-part series takes listeners to the shoals of the Tennessee River in North Alabama, where Project Say Something asks the community of Florence to question why a Confederate monument in front of a local courthouse should remain standing. The organization and Bennett refuse to back down from the question, “What do we want to see honored in our public spaces?” The episode concludes with Bennett’s trip to Montgomery, where she speaks to Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill.      

“Communities like Florence and leaders like Camille Bennett across the state have shown us what it looks like when Alabamians come together to push for change,” said Katie Glenn, policy associate for the SPLC. “The story of Project Say Something and their advocacy is one that teaches us about the necessity of listening to the community when they demand better from their leaders in their calls for racial justice.”

“Monumental Problems: Part II” offers tales of forgotten veterans in a family from the Texas Hill Country. The state has more than 180 public symbols dedicated to the Confederacy, and many Texans who support them refuse to acknowledge that the Confederate Army fought for the right to continue the enslavement of Black people or that white Americans continue to benefit from the impact of slavery, whether their ancestors were enslavers or not.  

“Monumental Problems: Part III” explores why more than 1,700 Confederate monuments and symbols remain on public lands across the country, as noted in the May 25 update of the SPLC’s Whose Heritage? report.

Focusing on public spaces such as Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta, where a giant carving of three Confederate leaders is etched on the face of a mountain, the series follows the financial trail of a powerful family and those corporations still investing in the Lost Cause narrative.

‘No place on public land’

As the battle to remove Confederate symbols goes forward, it’s important that local leaders have the authority to rid their public spaces of symbols of hatred. Some Southern states, however, have enacted laws that prohibit or erect barriers to the removal of local monuments.

“Local elected officials shouldn’t be punished, and they certainly shouldn’t face steep fines for merely responding to the needs of their constituents,” Glenn said. “They need the autonomy to do what is best for their neighborhood, their school district, their city and their county. Monuments to the Confederacy honor the oppression and enslavement of Black people, and they have no place in public life or on public land.”

Illustration by Zoë van Dijk