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During the Cold War, the supposed threat of Communism was the justification for super-sized budgets and a continuous stream of wars and interventions-some overt, others covert or proxy-none of which had anything to do with defending the United States-and none of which ended in victory. These were sold to the American people as being fought to "defend freedom" or "support democracy." After the Cold War ended it became more difficult to justify such a massive military.
Donald Trump's campaign and presidency have ushered in a tide of blatantly racist, classist, sexist and politically repressive nostalgia, encapsulated by his ominous slogan, "Make America Great Again." As Trump and his Republican allies work to dismantle civil, voting, reproductive and immigration rights, another vestige of the past -- anti-communism -- has begun to reappear.
Clancy Sigal died Monday night at 90. He wrote "Going Away" in the midst of the McCarthy period. It is a soul-searching memoir filled with fascinating characters. He chronicles the battles over racism at a time when the modern civil rights movement was just getting started. The novel became something of a cult favorite among the baby-boom generation of radicals in the 1960s and 1970s, and has remained in print and popular among subsequent generations.
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The Peekskill Riots tell the story of postwar reaction. They document the conservative impulse and structural readjustment programs that blocked the American left’s ability to establish a social-democratic United States following World War II, but they also tell the story of resistance to homegrown fascism: a resistance the reemerged in the 1960s and is rising again today.