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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Turner Tuesday Volume II

Some of you may remember a few weeks ago when I kicked off a new regular feature here at Total Drek with the first episode of Turner Tuesday. Turner Tuesday is our attempt to offer a chapter-by-chapter analysis of the white supremacist classic, the Turner Diaries. After a lengthy pause, perhaps brought on by my distaste for the subject matter, we're back this week with another episode. And a good thing too, since the series seems to have a following... of sorts.

Last time, you'll recall, our protaganist, Earl Turner, set the stage by discussing the deterioration of the United States into an inefficient, oppressive hell-hole. Needless to say, Turner blamed this decline on the evils of interracial mixing and a failure of the noble white man to assert himself properly. As you might guess, I was less than moved.

Now, please join me for the second chapter of the Turner Diaries.

Chapter 2

We join Turner and company after they have gone underground to avoid capture by the federal government. Almost from the start of this chapter, however, Pierce is in full-on lecture mode:

Our unit-that is, the four of us-leased this apartment under a false name nearly six months ago, just to have it available when we needed it. (We just beat the new law which requires a landlord to furnish the police with the social security number of every new tenant, just like when a person opens a bank account.) Because we've stayed away from the apartment until now, I'm sure the political police haven't connected any of us with this address.

But it's too small for all of us to live here for any length of time, and it doesn't offer enough privacy from the neighbors. We were too anxious to save money when we picked this place.

Money is our main problem now. We thought to stock this place with food, medicine, tools, spare clothing, maps-even a bicycle-but we forgot about cash. Two days ago, when the word came that they were starting the arrests again, we had no chance to withdraw money from the bank; it was too early in the morning. Now our accounts are surely frozen.

So we have only the cash that was in our pockets at the time: a little over $70 altogether (Note to the reader: The "dollar" was the basic monetary unit in the United States in the Old Era. In 1991, two dollars would buy a half-kilo loaf of bread or about a quarter of a kilo of sugar.)

And no transportation except for the bicycle. According to plan, we had all abandoned our cars, since the police would be looking for them. Even if we had kept a car, we would have a problem trying to get fuel for it. Since our gasoline ration cards are magnetically coded with our social security numbers, when we stuck them into the computer at a filling station they would show blocked quotas-and instantaneously tell the Feds monitoring the central computer where we were.

The preceding isn't interesting narratively, after all I don't care much that they have maps and whatnot. Nor, really, is the bicycle all that important to the story, though I find the notion of bicycle-born skinheads to be a little amusing. I betcha it has streamers on the handlebars and everything. What these paragraphs do, however, is suggest some of the issues potential subversives need to attend to. Specifically, it describes the need to lay in stocks of food, obtain shelter and transportation, secure medical equipment, and so on. This is, in narrative form, a set of instructional materials for persons who intend to emulate Earl Turner. As we've discussed before, this reflects the role of the Turner Diaries as both a narrative (if a stilted one), a set of philosophical justifications for treason, and a primer for terrorism.

This passage also introduces an important element that Pierce will use throughout the remainder of the book: occasional interjections written by an editor from the far future. Specifically I mean:

(Note to the reader: The "dollar" was the basic monetary unit in the United States in the Old Era. In 1991, two dollars would buy a half-kilo loaf of bread or about a quarter of a kilo of sugar.)

This is a propaganda tactic that Pierce uses to good effect. As will become clear, these future editors are highly sympathetic to Turner's goals and means. As such, the implication is that in the future Turner and his white supremacist buddies will win. This implication serves to further encourage the reader to adopt white supremacist views. In essence, Pierce is subtly arguing, "We're going to win anyway, so why not join now?" In truth, this is a stupid tactic because while I might easily write a story that presupposes that the Earth of the future is dominated by giant malevolent beings of fluffy sugar, that doesn't make it so. Yet, despite the logical absurdity of the tactic, its emotional impact can be substantial.

Of course, Turner and his cronies are not entirely alone. They have access to other "units" in the white supremacist underground, and these units may be better prepared than Turner's own. At the same time, discussing them affords Pierce a chance to further describe useful insurgency tactics:

Yesterday George, who is our contact with Unit 9, took the bicycle and pedaled over to talk to them about the situation. They're a little better off than we are, but not much. The six of them have about $400, but they're crowded into a hole in the wall which is even less satisfactory than ours, according to George.

They do have four automobiles and a fair-sized store of fuel, though. Carl Smith, who is with them, made some very convincing counterfeit license plates for everyone with a car in his unit. We should have done the same, but it's too late now.

They offered George one car and $50 cash, which he gratefully accepted. They didn't want to let go of any of their gasoline, though, other than the tankful in the car they gave us.

So, our protaganist and his friends are without an adequate supply of money. Whatever are they to do? As you might expect, Pierce intends the answer to be educational. He is well aware that any sort of terrorist activity requires money and, usually, in quantities that exceed what you can make through more traditional means. So, Turner and friends come up with a solution to their problem:

...we finally decided to go out and take some money. Henry and I were stuck with the chore, since we couldn't afford for George to get arrested. He's the only one who knows the network code.

We had Katherine do a pretty good makeup job on us first. She's into amateur theater and has the equipment and know-how to really change a person's appearance.

My inclination was just to walk into the first liquor store we came to, knock the manager on the head with a brick, and scoop up the money from the cash register.

Henry wouldn't go along with that, though. He said we couldn't use means which contradicted our ends. If we begin preying on the public to support ourselves, we will be viewed as a gang of common criminals, regardless of how lofty our aims are. Worse, we will eventually begin to think of ourselves the same way.

Henry looks at everything in terms of our ideology. If something doesn't fit, he'll have nothing to do with it.

In the above, we see several things. First off, we see a justification of crime in order to support the greater crime of terrorism. In this case, the revolution will be supported by the proceeds of liquor store robberies. I'm sure other famous revolutionaries would have been proud. Secondly, we see the mention of the "network code" and that George is too valuable to risk. As we will see more and more throughout the Turner Diaries, the instruction in terrorism includes comments intended to teach the readers how to compartmentalize their terrorist activities and how to choose those most expendable to use as attack agents. Third, we see Katherine begin her service as a member of the terrorist support staff. The Turner Diaries, as we will see, do not merely place white people above all others, but go further to place men above women. So, Katherine's mastery of makeup is a useful, but gender non-threatening, way she can contribute to the great masculine adventure of terrorism. Finally, Pierce uses this as a chance to expound upon the theory of terrorism- commenting that in order to gain popular support his terrorists must pick their targets carefully. He also places value on ideology, presumably in an effort to prevent his readers from turning to unplanned and random violence. Instead, he seems to prefer a more systematic campaign.

This, of course, leads us to one of the most morbidly humorous combinations of lines in the entire Turner Diaries. Please note that these passages are, literally, right next to each other:

In a way this may seem impractical [focusing on ideology], but I think maybe he's [Henry] right. Only by making our beliefs into a living faith which guides us from day to day can we maintain the moral strength to overcome the obstacles and hardships which lie ahead.

Anyway, he convinced me that if we are going to rob liquor stores we have to do it in a socially conscious way. If we are going to cave in people's heads with bricks, they must be people who deserve it.

Yep, nothing shows off moral strength and one's living faith like robbing liquor stores. Oh, but this is being done in a "socially conscious" way. Which means what, exactly?

As a matter of fact, "socially conscious" in this case translates to "anti-semitic."

By comparing the liquor store listings in the Yellow Pages of the telephone directory with a list of supporting members of the Northern Virginia Human Relations Council which had been filched for us by the girl we sent over there to do volunteer work for them, we finally settled on Berman's Liquors and Wines, Saul I. Berman, proprietor.

So, basically, if you're going to be a terrorist, support your activities by robbing those who financially support your enemy. Since, for Turner, all Jews are by definition the enemy we can easily see the logic in this choice.

Following this digression into ideology, we of course get the obligatory discussion of how to improvise weapons, and then we're off to rob a liquor store.

We parked about a block and a half from Berman's Liquors, around the corner. When we went in there were no customers in the store. A Black was at the cash register, tending the store.

Henry asked him for a bottle of vodka on a high shelf behind the counter. When he turned around I let him have it at the base of the skull with my "Ivory special." He dropped silently to the floor and remained motionless.

Henry calmly emptied the cash register and a cigar box under the counter which held the larger bills. We walked out and headed for the car We had gotten a little over $800. It had been surprisingly easy.

Three stores down Henry suddenly stopped and pointed out the sign on the door: "Berman's Deli." Without a moment's hesitation he pushed open the door and walked in. Spurred on by a sudden, reckless impulse I followed him instead of trying to stop him.

Berman himself was behind the counter, at the back. Henry lured him out by asking the price of an item near the front of the store which Berman couldn't see clearly from behind the counter.

And, of course, our courageous common thieves are quite successful. Note that the employee at Berman's Liquors was African-American. In the narrative this serves two purposes: one, it implies that all the "lesser races" in Pierce's cosmology are united in their opposition to the white man. At the same time, however, it saves Pierce from dealing with a nasty question: would it still be "socially conscious" to injure or kill a white person in the process of funding the white supremacist rebellion? As it happens, Pierce will answer this question in the affirmative later in the book. For now, however, avoiding the question gives Pierce more time to draw his readers into the narrative, asking them to accept only small atrocities, before moving on to larger and larger ones. Since this book is intended as a recruiting tool, among other things, the value of this tactic is clear.

As he passed me, I let him have it in the back of the head as hard as I could. I felt the bar of soap shatter from the force of the blow.

Berman went down yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he started crawling rapidly toward the back of the store, screaming loudly enough to wake the dead. I was completely unnerved by the racket and stood frozen.

Not Henry though. He leaped onto Berman's back, seized him by the hair, and cut his throat from ear to ear in one, swift motion.

The silence lasted about one second. Then a fat, grotesque-looking woman of about 60-probably Berman's wife -came charging out of the back room waving a meat cleaver and emitting an ear-piercing shriek.

Henry let fly at her with a large jar of kosher pickles and scored a direct hit. She went down in a spray of pickles and broken glass.

Henry then cleaned out the cash register, looked for another cigar box under the counter, found it, and scooped the bills out.

I snapped out of my trance and followed Henry out the front door as the fat woman started shrieking again. Henry had to hold me by the arm to keep me from running down the sidewalk.

Then again, the atrocities come pretty early. What we have here is the deliberate murder of an unarmed man, which is generally considered to be in poor taste. His wife is also assaulted while trying to defend herself and she, of course, is described as grotesque and fat. Doubtless this is Pierce's attempt to metaphorically argue that Jews are twisted, evil, and lazy, surviving on the labor of others. As it happens, that sort of ideology was quite common in Nazi Germany as well, and was used to justify the confiscation of Jewish property.

This is such a common theme in white supremacist ideology, that it's worth considering in greater detail. Jews were, historically, thought of as a sort of parasite in Europe during the middle ages. This, however, stemmed from the fact that Catholicism prohibited usury while Judaism permitted it. As a consequence, banking was potentially profitable for Jews and largely unprofitable for those Christians who actually adhered to the requirements of Catholicism. This is, of course, not to say that all Jews were wealthy bankers, but rather only that bankers tended to be Jewish. Since the borrowing of money grew in importance for both individuals, businesses, and governments over time, this placed Jewish-run banks in important social positions. Of course, if you had borrowed money from a bank that you couldn't pay back (i.e. had to default on a loan) it might be an attractive option to use religious differences as an excuse to erase the loan. This was, sadly, a common tactic of both individuals and nations and, as a consequence, gave rise to the view of Jews as greedy thieving individuals. It should be remembered, however, that this state of affairs came about not because of the inherent greed of Jews, but rather because of religious prohibitions on non-Jews that prevented them from providing services that they, in fact, couldn't do without.

And all this, of course, is not to dismiss simple racism as a misunderstanding. Rather, it is to elucidate historical relations that encourage particular racist images. As it happens, I find the entire notion that I should have to explain why any group is not inherently greedy to be particularly ludicrous. Well... except for the executives at Enron.

In any case, from here our protaganist Earl Turner muses about his past life. He describes himself as normal in every way, a previous employee at an electronics lab and then a consultant. In fact, he says he was normal in every way except for his involvement in a terrorist organization. This is a bit like describing yourself as normal in every way except for that third-eye, but I digress. Earl and his companion Henry decide to go retrieve the unit's firearms from their cache in Pennsylvania while George and Katherine attempt to locate new housing. This process is complicated by the need for gasoline, which is rationed thanks to wide-spread corruption. In fact, the practical issue of corruption gives Pierce another soapbox to send his protaganist up onto:

As rationing has increased during the last few years, so has petty corruption of every sort. I guess a lot of the large-scale graft in the government which Watergate revealed a few years back has finally filtered down to the man in the street. When people began realizing that the big-shot politicians were crooked, they were more inclined to try to cheat the System a little themselves. All the new rationing red tape has just exacerbated the tendency-as has the growing percentage of non-Whites in every level of the bureaucracy.

The Organization has been one of the main critics of this corruption, but I can now see that it gives us an important advantage. If everybody obeyed the law and did everything by the book, it would be nearly impossible for an underground group to exist.

Not only would we not be able to buy gasoline, but a thousand other bureaucratic obstacles with which the System increasingly hems the lives of our fellow citizens would be insurmountable for us. As it is, a bribe to a local official here or a few dollars under the counter to a clerk or secretary there will allow us to get around many of the government regulations which would otherwise trip us up.

The closer public morality in America approaches that of a banana republic, the easier it will be for us to operate. Of course, with everyone having his hand out for a bribe, we'll need plenty of money.

Looking at it philosophically, one can't avoid the conclusion that it is corruption, not tyranny, which leads to the overthrow of governments. A strong and vigorous government, no matter how oppressive, usually need not fear revolution. But a corrupt, inefficient, decadent government-even a benevolent one-is always ripe for revolution. The System we are fighting is both corrupt and oppressive, and we should thank God for the corruption.

So, we have a number of fun points. First, the blaming of individual corruption on corrupt politicians. In essence, this makes the entire supposed deterioration of U.S. society the fault of the government, rather than widespread failings in the people. Secondly, it expounds upon both a theory that corruption and inefficiency are what breed discontent, and the assertion that even repressive governments can stay in power as long as they aren't corrupt. This is an important point since it is difficult to see what sort of government Pierce might want, save a repressive one. Further, since the Organization was one of the most outspoken critics of governmental corruption, we can clearly assume that it isn't at all corrupt. Right? I mean, who ever heard of a hypocritical white supremacist?

As always, Pierce implicates the news media as being a tool of the government:

The silence about us in the newspapers is worrisome. The Berman thing the other day wasn't connected to us, of course, and it was given only a paragraph in today's Post. Robberies of that sort-even where there is killing involved-are so common these days that they merit no more attention than a traffic accident.

But the fact that the government launched a massive roundup of known Organization members last Wednesday and that nearly all of us, more than 2,000 persons, have managed to slip through their fingers and drop out of sight-why isn't that in the papers? The news media are collaborating closely with the political police, of course, but what is their strategy against us?

There was one small Associated Press article on a back page of yesterday's paper mentioning the arrest of nine "racists" in Chicago and four in Los Angeles on Wednesday. The article said that all 13 who were arrested were members of the same organization-evidently ours-but no further details were given. Curious!

Are they keeping quiet about the failure of the roundup so as not to embarrass the government? That's not like them.

Probably, they're a little paranoid about the ease with which we evaded the roundup. They may have fears that some substantial portion of the public is in sympathy with us and is aiding us, and they don't want to say anything that will give encouragement to our sympathizers.

But doing so gives him an opportunity to claim that most of the population (the white population, anyway) is secretly sympathetic to the white supremacist terrorists. This is an important activity for Pierce because, once again, it implies that rebelling against the government will be met with public blessings, rather than public opposition. This is intended to make his readers more likely to join his cause but, as we will see, Pierce routinely waffles on the actual sympathies of the public, leaving the reader at best uncertain as to what the citizenry as a whole might do.

Finally, after a little bit of additional discussion of camoflague techniques:

Meanwhile, our security rests primarily in our changed appearances and identities. We've all changed our hair styles and either dyed or bleached our hair. I've begun wearing new glasses with heavy frames instead of my old frameless ones, and Katherine has switched from her contact lenses to glasses. Henry has undergone the most radical transformation, by shaving off his beard and mustache. And we all have pretty convincing fake driver's licenses, although they won't stand up if they are ever checked against state records.

We arrive at the end of the chapter. A good thing, too.

So where are we to date? The U.S. has been depicted as a corrupt, rotting republic. White supremacist terrorists have been described as the only bastion of solid republican values left, and we've begun to gain an education in the tactics of terrorism. Our protaganists have also become thieves and murderers, though only of a "socially conscious" variety. Don't worry, though, things will begin to get truly unreasonable soon enough.

Join us next time for another exciting installment of Turner Tuesday, when Earl Turner will remark: "...I had to go into the hole headfirst, with Henry holding my legs."

I'll leave you to wonder what, exactly, he's talking about.


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