Margaret Atwood and the Rise of the American ‘Alt-Right’: The Prophetic Punch of the Handmaid’s Tale
The horrific events in Charlottesville on August 12 provided a sinister snapshot of the transition of the “Alt-Right,” from fringe, hate-spewing online trolls to a critical mass of torch-bearing white men sporting Swastikas and automatic weapons. This assortment of homegrown neo-Nazis, white supremacists and new generation Klu Klux Klansmen are the foot soldiers of rabidly intolerant ideological groups increasingly empowered by dog-whistle affirmation from President Donald J. Trump.
That toxic ideology – and the government’s deference to it – was the seedbed of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian “speculative fiction” classic, The Handmaid’s Tale. Atwood conjured a future in which elements recognizable in “alt-right” ideology fueled a violent takeover of the United States of America and its remaking into a totalitarian theocracy called the Republic of Gilead. Atwood channeled the gender dynamics and the collective fears of North American women of the 1980s into a chilling conception of a near-future that seems spookily less-speculative since Charlottesville and its aftermath. Her vision of Gilead and its origins provide stark, relevant warnings for the direction of U.S. society that are more a call for collective action than predictive lament.
Join the resistance with an evening of spirited discussion about the intersection of the predictive punch of The Handmaid’s Tale and the warnings from Charlottesville.
Teacher: Phelim Kine