Reactions to my post, however, were mixed. Tom Bozzo seemed to find the entire thing to be as frightening, and ludicrous as I did. Brayden (of Pub Sociology) seemed to harbor a different notion, praising the comic as a source of amusement, but dismissing it as a sign of serious danger. This approach was, in turn, roundly critiqued by my Former Hypothetical Roommate, who made the following useful observation in reference to Pat Robertson:
Robertson scares the living crap out of me, and I used to be a pretty dedicated church youth group and Bible study leading type guy. He is firmly in the wing-nut crowd Brayden is talking about. But unlike Brayden who can just think these guys are funny nut bags, I know people who live their lives based on what guys like this say. When Robertson called for dedicated Christians everywhere to pray for liberal Supreme Court Justices to get sick and die, I know and worked with people who did just that. In fact they organized prayer groups and prayer vigils to achieve that end. Brayden, these guys are not all that funny, and their access to mass media and ability to convince otherwise bright individuals of the rightness of their position is horrifying.
So, like I said, it was a post with a very mixed response. For my own part, I come down much closer to FHR's position than anyone else's. While I may find these wacky conservative comics to be funny, I am very much aware that others receive them as enlightened truth. A message, no matter how ridiculous, will often be believed if it is given authoritatively, communicated appealingly, and not opposed by an equally powerful message. A comic book like "Liberality for All," provides a powerful message precisely because it absorbs the reader into a world of fiction- it designs a world to fit its arguments, thereby avoiding the ugly necessity of fitting an argument to the facts. I tend to think that messages must be opposed, no matter how absurd they may seem, or they can become quite convincing on their own. This is one of the major motivations for my semi-regular feature The Insanity Parade (See here for the latest edition) which challenges logical and scientific fallacies on the internet and in popular media. I feel compelled to challenge this sort of falsehood in the hopes of giving at least one person reason not to buy into bunk.
Of course, doing that means that I sometimes find myself reading material that I more or less loathe. This is precisely what happened recently when I found myself reading through the Turner Diaries, a novel written by white-supremacist William Pierce about the violent overthrow of the United States Government. It goes without saying that the overthrow is brought about by a white-supremacist group with plans to exterminate all non-white races in the world. Now I didn't start reading this thing because I harbor secret sympathies for the Nazis. Rather, I think it's beneficial to read what people you disagree with read, and in this case I'm glad I did.
The Turner Diaries are nothing short of brilliant- not in the sense that I agree with them, but rather in that they are a perfect form of propaganda. I have a difficult time imagining a better way to incite disenfranchised and uneducated men to revolt against the Federal Government, a more pernicious way to justify the slaughter of innocent people, or a more thorough introduction to the craft of terrorism and guerrilla warfare. For all that it contains less technical information than the Anarchist Cookbook it is vastly more dangerous because, like Liberality for All, it packages its pro-terrorism material into a relatively innocuous package.
Having run across this foul thing, I was confronted with a serious dilemma. I could simply read it and then draw my conclusions- but that wouldn't benefit anyone. This is particularly the case since, while I have long known of The Turner Diaries, I have never encountered an actual refutation of it. I have certainly seen reviews, but these have truly not done this book justice, or refuted it as thoroughly as we should ask. So, I turn to a third option: I will make it a regular feature.
I am announcing a new feature here at Total Drek named "Turner Tuesdays." On Tuesday, several times a month, I will dissect one chapter from the Turner Diaries, and attempt to grapple with its falsehoods, its propaganda, and its rhetorical tricks. My goal is to help show where it uses lies, fallacy, and imagery to do what logic cannot: make a case for racial genocide. Much as it was once believed that speaking a demon's name deprived him of power, I hope that a solid analysis of this book will help dispel the awful strength it possesses.
This feature will not run every week, as I don't always have the time to do the job properly, but it will be more frequent than the Insanity Parade. Additionally, with the help of the online edition of the book, readers can compare my claims to the original book and see what they believe. Read what I have to say and read what the book has to say, then make up your own mind. That's more choice than William Pierce ever wanted his readers to have.
Things like The Turner Diaries must be challenged, or their seeming invulnerability will become essentially real. This is my own attempt to do just that.
And hey, when I get done with this, maybe I should try something a little easier? Like plugging a dam with my thumb, maybe.