Turner Tuesday Volume III
This chapter begins with the protaganist, Earl Turner, complaining about being in pain. Sadly, this isn't because he and his companions have received justice, but rather because he's put in some hard labor. Specifically, he was involved in recovering his terrorist cell's weapons from their hidden cache in Pennsylvania and returning them to the rest of the group. Little of consequence happens in the introduction to this part of the story, save that we have another editorial aside from the future:
(Note to the reader: Throughout his diaries Turner used so-called "English units" of measurement, which were still in common use in North America during the last years of the Old Era. For the reader not familiar with these units, a "mile" was 1.6 kilometers, a "gallon" was 3.8 liters, a "foot" was .30 meter, a "yard" was .91 meter, an "inc. ' was 2.5 centimeters, and a "pound" was the weight of .4s kilogram-approximately.)
We've already discussed the value of this "historical perspective" to convincing the reader that Earl Turner's forces will win, but what I find interesting in this specific passage is the claim that the metric system will eventually replace the English or Standard units presently in use in the United States. Don't get me wrong- I think the metric system has substantial advantages over the U.S. system- I'm just a little surprised that Pierce would present the metric system in a positive light, given that resistance to its adoption in the U.S. is largely resident in the same socioeconomic groups that Pierce wants to recruit. I wonder if this is a mistake on Pierce's part, or if it is a deliberate attempt to imply that the noble white supremacists are just as technically sophisticated as their opponents. Given that Pierce had a Ph.D. in Physics (And yes, that scares the crap out of me) I think the latter option is entirely plausible.
In any case, Earl and friend headed up into Pennsylvania to recover their weapons. Of course, things were beginning to bode ill for our "heroes."
The consequence was that we had nearly a two-mile hike each way instead of less than half a mile. And it took three round trips to get everything to the car. We brought shovels, a rope, and a couple of large canvas mail sacks (courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service), but, as it turned out, these tools were woefully inadequate for the task.
This, of course, serves to advise Pierce's readers about the proper equipment for recovering a stash of weapons. Indeed, so too does the description of how the weapons were stored:
Even digging down to the top of the oil drum (actually a 50-gallon chemical drum with a removable lid) in which we had sealed our weapons wasn't too bad. The ground was fairly soft, and it took us less than an hour to excavate a five-foot-deep pit and tie our rope to the handles which had been welded to the lid of the drum.
Then our trouble began. The two of us tugged on the rope as hard as we could, but the drum wouldn't budge an inch. It was as if it had been set in concrete.
Although the full drum weighed nearly 400 pounds, two of us had been able to lower it into the pit without undue difficulty three years ago. At that time, of course, there had been several inches of clearance all around it. Now the earth had settled and was packed tightly against the metal.
We gave up trying to get the drum out of the hole and decided to open it where it was. To do that we had to dig for nearly another hour, enlarging the hole and clearing a few inches all around the top of the drum so we could get our hands on the locking band which secured the lid. Even so, l had to go into the hole headfirst, with Henry holding my legs.
Although the outside of the drum had been painted with asphalt to prevent corrosion, the locking lever itself was thoroughly rusted, and I broke the only screwdriver we had trying to pry it loose. Finally, after much pounding, I was able to pry the lever out from the drum with the end of a shovel. With the locking band loosened, however, the lid remained as tightly in place as ever, apparently stuck to the drum by the asphalt coating we had applied.
Working upside down in the narrow hole was difficult and exhausting. We had no tool satisfactory for wedging under the lip of the lid and prying it up. Finally, almost in desperation, I once again tied the rope to one of the handles on the lid. Henry and I gave a hard tug, and the lid popped off!
This passage is, in essence, entirely instructional. It gives the readers two bits of information: first, it provides some workable suggestions for caching weapons: store them in a sealed drum that you bury in the middle of nowhere. Second, it describes in detail some of the problems that may be encountered in retrieving those weapons and, in so doing, implies the sorts of tools and equipment necessary for the task. Both of these simply make it more likely that a prospective terrorist would be able to accomplish the tasks that Pierce's fictional terrorists do. This passage also serves to notify readers that there will be hard work involved in committing treason against the United States. Doubtless Pierce wants to discourage the... shit, I don't know... hobbyist racists (as opposed to those who do it professionally) from joining his terrorist organization. All of these objectives are particularly apparent when we consider the following:
...we still had to carry more than 300 pounds of munitions half a mile through dense woods, uphill to the road, and then more than a mile back to the car.
With proper pack frames to distribute the loads on our backs we might have carried everything out in one trip. It could have been done easily in two trips. But with only the awkward mail sacks, which we had to carry in our arms, it took three excruciatingly painful trips.
We had to stop every hundred yards or so and put our loads down for a minute, and the last two trips were made in total darkness. Anticipating a daylight operation, we hadn't even brought a flashlight. If we don't do a better job of planning our operations in the future, we have some rough times ahead!
So, in short, the virtues of planning are spoken of, the inevitability of hard work is acknowledged, and a set of equipment advisable to have is given. In short, our tutorial in caching weapons is more or less complete.
From there, we move on to an accounting of what else is going on in the country. Our protaganists stop over at a diner on the way home with their weapons and see a news broadcast on T.V:
The big story of the day was what the Organization had been up to in Chicago. The System, it seems, had killed one of our people, and in turn we had killed three of theirs and then engaged in a spectacular - and successful - gunfight with the authorities. Nearly the whole newscast was occupied in recounting these events.
How exciting! White supremacists are finally striking back against the tyranny of law enforcement! But what does Turner mean when he discusses the death of an organization operative? Well, he goes on to tell us:
We already knew from the papers that nine of our members had been arrested in Chicago last week, and apparently they had had a rough time in the Cook County Jail, where one of them had died. It was impossible to be sure exactly what had happened from what the TV announcer said, but if the System had behaved true to form the authorities had stuck our people individually into cells full of Blacks and then shut their eyes and ears to what ensued.
That has long been the System's extra-legal way of punishing our people when they can't pin anything on them that will "stick" in the courts. It's a more ghastly and dreadful punishment than anything which ever took place in a medieval torture chamber or in the cellars of the KGB. And they can get away with it because the news media usually won't even admit that it happens. After all, if you're trying to convince the public that the races are really equal, how can you admit that it's worse to be locked in a cell full of Black criminals than in a cell full of White ones?
Unfortunately, there is an amount of truth here. Law enforcement personnel have, from time to time, used prisoners as a means to abuse other prisoners when the officers are not permitted to do it themselves. In that regard I can't argue with Pierce. What I can challenge is the notion that African-American criminals are in some way "worse" than white criminals. I think it highly likely that the relevant issue is the race of the "new fish" in the cell, in comparison to the race of the other prisoners. I doubt a black prisoner in a cell full of white inmates, particularly inmates drawn from Tuner's "Organization," would fare at all well. Moreover, are we surprised that a group of criminals would abuse a member of an organized terrorist group dedicated to eradicating their ethnicity? Color me shocked.
Of course, the Organization retaliated for this:
Anyway, the day after our man-the newscaster said his name was Carl Hodges, someone I've not heard of before-was killed, the Chicago Organization fulfilled a promise they'd made more than a year ago, in the event one of our people was ever seriously hurt in a Chicago jail. They ambushed the Cook County sheriff outside his home and blew his head off with a shotgun. They left a note pinned to his body which read: "This is for Carl Hodges."
That was last Saturday night. On Sunday the System was up in arms. The sheriff of Cook County had been a political bigwig, a front-rank shabbos goy, and they were really raising hell.
Although they broadcast the news only to the Chicago area on Sunday, they trotted out several pillars of the community there to denounce the assassination and the Organization in special TV appearances. One of the spokesmen was a "responsible conservative," and another was the head of the Chicago Jewish community. All of them described the Organization as a "gang of racist bigots" and called on "all right-thinking Chicagoans" to cooperate with the political police in apprehending the "racists" who had killed the sheriff.
Well, early this morning the responsible conservative lost both his legs and suffered severe internal injuries when a bomb wired to the ignition of his car exploded. The Jewish spokesman was even less fortunate. Someone walked up to him while he was waiting for an elevator in the lobby of his office building, pulled a hatchet from under his coat, cleaved the good Jew's head from crown to shoulder blades, then disappeared in the rush-hour crowd. The Organization immediately claimed responsibility for both acts.
So, you know, a reasonable and measured response. As always, as well, Jews are blamed for any efforts to "oppress" members of the organization, though we are certainly given no arguments as to how they're responsible. Apparently any time a white man is opposed to white supremacists, it's because he's secretly under the control of the Jewish conspiracy. Where I come from, we have a term for what that kind of logic. Eventually, with the help of near martial law and the national guard, the location of a Chicago cell of the Organization is located. Yet, even with overwhelming force, the authorities seem quite at a loss to stop the Organization terrorists, or prevent them from making a "statement:"
One of the men in the apartment apparently had a sniper's rifle, because two Black cops more than a block away were picked off before it was realized that Blacks were being singled out as targets and uniformed White cops were not being shot at. This White immunity apparently was not extended to the plainclothes political police, however, because an FBI agent was killed by a burst of sub-machine-gun fire from the apartment when he momentarily exposed himself to hurl a teargas grenade through a window.
We watched breathlessly as this action was shown on the TV screen, but the real climax came for us when the apartment was stormed and found empty. A quick room-by-room search of the building also failed to turn up the gunmen.
Disappointment at this outcome was evident in the TV newsman's voice, but a man sitting at the other end of the counter from us whistled and clapped when it was announced that the "racists" had apparently slipped away. The waitress smiled at this, and it seemed clear to us that, while there certainly was no unanimous approval for the Organization's actions in Chicago, neither was there unanimous disapproval.
This passage does several things. First, it introduces the killing of white people by white terrorists in order to bring about a white supremacist revolution. This was something, you will recall, that Pierce shied away from last time. This time, however, we're finally being introduced to the idea- even if in the process the sparing of certain whites is described more prominently. Secondly, that the three Organization terrorists have the time and ability to select their targets so carefully even while so outnumbered implies that they are nearly godlike in their abilities. The same is implied by their ability to escape capture. Doubtless, many readers would like to believe that they would be equally skilled in battle as these near-miraculous white supremacists. Moreover, this fits in with Pierce's doctrine of racial superiority, and leads his readers to believe that they, too, could be invincible warriors for whiteness. (Man, I feel absurd just saying that) Finally, the response of the people in the diner is telling. Once more, we seem to receive the message that many average Americans (meaning, of course, white Americans in Pierce's world) would approve, or be amenable to, a white supremacist takeover. This is a crucial part of Pierce's effort to convince white Americans to take up arms against the government.
From this talking up of the white supremacist cause, we reach yet another educational discussion of terrorist tactics:
As last night's TV news ended, Henry and I choked down the last of our meal and stumbled outside. I was filled with emotions: excitement, elation over the success of our people in Chicago, nervousness about being one of the targets of a nationwide manhunt, and chagrin that none of our units in the Washington area had shown the initiative of our Chicago units.
I was itching to do something, and the first thing that occurred to me was to try to make some sort of contact with the fellow in the cafe who had seemed sympathetic to us. I wanted to take some leaflets from our car and put one under the windshield wiper of every vehicle in the parking lot.
Henry, who always keeps a cool head, emphatically vetoed the idea. As we sat in the car he explained that it was sheer folly to risk calling any attention whatever to ourselves until we had completed our present mission of safely delivering our load of weapons to our unit. Furthermore, he reminded me, it would be a breach of Organization discipline for a member of an underground unit to engage in any direct recruiting activity, however minimal. That function has been relegated to the "legal" units.
The underground units consist of members who are known to the authorities and have been marked for arrest. Their function is to destroy the System through direct action.
The "legal" units consist of members not presently known to the System. (Indeed, it would be impossible to prove that most of them are members. In this we have taken a page from the communists' book.) Their role is to provide us with intelligence, funding, legal defense, and other support.
Whenever an "illegal" spots a potential recruit, he is supposed to turn the information over to a "legal," who will approach the prospect and sound him out. The "legals" are also supposed to handle all the low-risk propaganda activity, such as leafleting. Strictly speaking, we should not even have had any Organization leaflets with us.
We waited until the man who had applauded the escape of our members in Chicago came out and got in a pickup truck. We drove by him and noted his license number as we pulled out of the lot. When the network is established, the information will go to the proper person for a follow-up.
So, in other words, we are given a brief tutorial in how to compartmentalize a terrorist group so that functions that can be kept above-ground are kept so, and that underground operatives are not risked unnecessarily. This pattern was used to good effect (and by "good" I mean something other than a moral judgment) in Northern Ireland where the terrorist IRA served as the underground counterpart to the above-ground Sinn Fein. Once more, we have less of a novel and more of a terroist handbook.
Once they returned to their headquarters, we are treated to still more instructional material- this time in the selection of a home base for terrorist activity:
The new place is much better in every way except the rent. We have a whole building to ourselves. It is actually a cement-block commercial building which once housed a small machine shop in a single, garage-like room downstairs, with offices and a storeroom upstairs.
The place has been condemned, because it lies on the right-of-way for a new access road to the highway which has been in the planning stages for the last four years. Like all government projects these days, this one is also bogged down-probably permanently. Although hundreds of thousands of men are being paid to build new highways, none are actually being built. In the last five years most of the roads in the country have deteriorated badly, and, although one always sees repair crews standing around, nothing ever seems to get fixed.
The government hasn't even gotten around to actually purchasing the land it has condemned for the new highway, leaving the property owners holding the bag. Legally, the owner of this building isn't supposed to rent it, but he evidently has an arrangement with someone in city hall. The advantage for us is that there is no official record of the occupancy of the building- no social security numbers for the police, no county building inspectors or fire marshals coming around to check. George just has to take $600-in cash-to the owner once a month.
In the process of describing some desirable properties of a hideout, Pierce uses this as a chance to further demean the government. Remember that, given that we're only in Chapter 3, Pierce is still trying to convince us of the necessity of revolution. Certainly his complaints about high taxes and poor public resources are part of this effort.
Finally, after a brief technical discussion of how to make the place livable without having to actually pay bills:
So, having decided to make the move, we did it today. Since there was no electricity, water, or gas in the new place, it was my job to solve the heating, lighting, and plumbing problems while the others moved our things.
Restoring the water was easy, as soon as I had located the water meter and gotten the lid off. After turning the water on I dragged some heavy junk over the meter lid so no one from the water company would be likely to find it, in case anyone ever came looking.
The electric problem was a good deal more difficult. There were still lines up from the building to a power pole, but the current had been shut off at the meter, which was on an outside wall. I had to carefully knock a hole through the wall behind the meter, from the inside, and then wire jumpers across the terminals. That took me the better part of the day.
The rest of my day was occupied in carefully covering all the chinks in the boards over the downstairs windows and in tacking heavy cardboard over the upstairs windows, so no ray of light can be seen from the building at night.
We come to the end of the chapter. This chapter may have seemed dull, but that's because it is. In fact, this chapter reads like a set of stereo instructions, which makes sense because it shares a purpose with stereo instructions. In large part this material is entirely instructional and is only loosely wrapped in a narrative. As such, the perception of it as dull is quite accurate. Yet, at the same time, it is brilliant in that, however boring it is, it still conveys the information in a way more vivid than standard instructional manuals can usually achieve. As such, Pierce is definitely using his medium well.
And so, another episode of Turner Tuesday draws to a close. Join us next time when Earl Turned remarks: "The cold water relieved the throbbing almost immediately, and I leaned back gratefully on the pillows which Katherine propped behind me on the couch."
Doubtless she then assured him that it happens to lots of men.
See you next time.