Contemporary literary culture has little acceptance for novels that outright condone a race war between White and minority populations. Neither did the 1978 canon, as White Nationalist leader William Luther Pierce’s, alias Andrew Macdonald, novel The Turner Diaries failed to make The New York Times’ Best Seller list. In fact, the book was only available by mail-order (through Pierce’s National Alliance magazine) until Lyle Stuart had it re-published in 1997. The F.B.I. declared the novel as the ‘Bible of the Racist Right’ and allegedly served as the ‘blueprint’ for the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1991. Now there is speculation that the novel was an influence on Dylann Roof’s massacre of nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina. In an effort to understand the literature behind the pathology, Living with Literature decided to review The Turner Diaries.
The Turner Diaries opens in the year 2099. Author Andrew Macdonald informs readers it is the centennial of the Great Revolution. A century prior, a White-supremacist militia, known as ‘The Order’, took control of world power and ousted any and every minority. The Introduction concludes with the publication of the recently discovered diary of Earl Turner, a guerrilla fighter in the Great Revolution. What follows is a journalistic chronicle of ‘The Order’ and their fight against the “liberal-Zionist” government known as ‘The System’.
When approaching an ideological-driven novel like The Turner Diaries, it is important to investigate the roots underpinning the motivation. In this case, what elements fuel the prejudice. To Earl Turner, and by proxy William Pierce, Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics are unsavory ancillary components of a base cause. That is, as professed at length in the novel, Judaism and the Israeli state. The diary-structured manifesto argues that Jews condone race mixing and thus can be guilted for nearly every ill plaguing the United States and Western society.
“And is that not key to the whole problem? The corruption of our people by the Jewish-liberal-democratic-equalitarian plague which afflicts us is more clearly manifested in our soft-mindedness, our unwillingness to recognize the harder realities of life, than in anything else.”
While followers of Judaism and Zionism are attributed fundamental blame, the Diaries slanders America’s Black and Hispanic population for quotidian crimes. In the mind of Turner and Pierce, if an interracial relationship occurs, it is undoubtedly against the will of a (predominately female) caucasian. The lack of prohibition against these ‘crimes’, the author argues, is as much a consequence of the ‘liberal Zionist agenda'(e.g.’Cohen anti-gun bill’) as the White population’s fear of being labeled a ‘racist’:
“I have been surprised to see how callous our volunteer Blacks are toward their own people. Some of the older Blacks, who haven’t been able to fend for themselves, are obviously near the point of death and starvation and dehydration, yet our volunteers handle them so roughly and pack them so tightly into the cars that it makes me flinch to watch them. When one overloaded Cadillac started onto the eastbound freeway with a lurch this morning, an ancient Negro lost his grip and fell off the roof, landing headfirst on the pavement and crushing his skull like an egg. The Blacks who had just loaded the car roared with laughter; it was apparently the funniest thing they’ve seen in a long time.”
The most intriguing feature of The Turner Diaries is the representation of the past. Like in this world, history has heavily effected the alternative future of the novel. There is little surprise that Turner and Pierce believe Nazi genocide in the 1940’s was a noble cause. However, this ignores many of the other conspiratorial and complex elements cited in the novel’s neofascist historical lens. This misunderstanding of history by the general public, the novel argues, is precisely what Pierece and followers of the movement feel legitimize their convictions and ambitions for various forms of ‘re-education’:
“But it was immediately apparent to the Revolutionary Command – and it soon became apparent to everyone else – that a new element had entered the picture. From our contacts inside one of the Federal police agencies we learned that our people are being killed by two groups: a special Israeli assassination squad and an assortment of Mafia ‘hit men’ under contract to the government of Israel. Where both these groups are concerned, U.S police have been given a hands off order by the FBI. (Note to the reader: The Mafia was a criminal confederation composed primarily of Italians and Siclians but usually masterminded by Jews, which flourished in the United States in the eight decades prior to the Great Revolution. There were several half-hearted government efforts to stamp out the Mafia during this period, but the unrestricted capitalism then flourshing provided ideal conditions for large-scale , organized crime and its concomitant political corruption. The Mafia remained in existence until virtually all its membmers – more than 8,000 men – were rounded up and executed in a single, massive operation by the Organization during the mopping-up period which followed the Revolution.)”
The difficultly with The Turner Diaries is categorization. Despite the alternative future, it does not read like a science fiction novel. Nor is it ‘dystopian’, as that leads the reader to believe there is a protagonist whom beats the injustice or becomes a maytr during the attempt. Instead, Pierce conceives a blueprint on how to achieve his vision of utopia. While politically opposite, the pyschological passages in ‘The Turner Diaries’ correspond most with the wildly influential pan-Africanist advocate writer Frantz Fanon. One supposes the most appropriate label for this vein of writing would be ‘racially-conscious’ literature.
The Turner Diaries has been condemned by the Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and many others. Author and Dr. William Luther Pierce has likewise been a persona non grata since leaving his Oregon State University teaching post in the 1970’s to become an outspoken white supremacist. This is, as contemporary culture deems, as it should be. In fact, most readers cringe and cower at the idea of reading such a vitriolic, yet undoubtedly important novel. However, for a culture supposedly so entrenched in socially-progressive initiatives, at least relative to genocide-supporting neofascists, why is there a fear of investigating the designated enemy? This is not a call for compulsory reading of The Turner Diaries. Or The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Or any other neofascist literature. Rather, it is a call for social awareness to rationally and intellectually reckon with deeply-rooted prejudice as a way to, hopefully, prevent future tragedy.