Date of Award


Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Academic Program

History BA



First Advisor

Joseph Peterson, Ph.D.

Advisor Department



In 2016, the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville came to a violent end. American news outlets were left with scraps of rhetoric to piece together what would become a popular narrative going forward. Their conclusion was that the American far-right is heavily influenced by European ideas of civilization, race, and immigration. European nativist ideology is what inspired the people at Charlottesville as well as the numerous attacks on different racial groups that were carried out in the years to come. This thesis rejects all of that. The American far-right does not and has never had to be influenced by Europe. The issue of American right-wing extremism is one that has very American roots and attempts to pass blame on to Europe only seeks to avoid confronting those roots. As this research shows, the American far-right and Europe have a strange relationship. At points in history, Europe as seen a mythical homeland and the last bastion of Western civilization in desperate need of defending. At other times, American far-right uses Europe's conflicts and crises against them for their own nativist gain. Throughout, America abandons its own sources of ideological inspiration for identical European rhetoric in a quest for legitimacy. More recently, the American far-right and Europe fight hand in hand against the newest threat to civilization: Islam. This thesis intends to examine these dynamics in order to find out why Europe seemingly plays a large role in ideology of the American far-right.