Digital Memory and Populism| Radical-Right Populist Media Discourse in Social Media and Counter Strategies: Case Study of #ConfederateHeritageMonth 2021 Twitter Campaign
Social media offer an opportunity for marginalized radical groups to bypass the mainstream media and gain political subjectivities in the public sphere. This study investigates how a populist right-wing group—the neo-Confederates—used the hashtag #ConfederateHeritageMonth in April 2021 to create a parasitic public sphere and construct their own collective memory on Twitter, and how their discursive actions were neutralized by their opponents. As a right-wing populist group, neo-Confederates have limited access to the mainstream public sphere, as is their memory discourse on the American Civil War. As is the case of many other radical and extremist groups, it is on social media where they can negotiate and shape their collective memory. In this study, quantitative and qualitative research methods were used to uncover neo-Confederate’s main themes of the Civil War memory on social media (the Confederacy as a legitimate part of American history; the Confederacy as a struggle for states’ rights), as well as counter strategies to neutralize them.