Following the Capitol insurrection, Amazon removed The Turner Diaries from its shelves. Will it be enough? Following the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, Amazon took the unusual step on January 12 of removing all copies of a novel called The Turner Diaries from its virtual shelves. That may seem like a drastic stance given the debate over censorship and free speech that has accompanied these types of purges. But it’s one that signifies just how notorious the book has become, and how much real-world damage it’s arguably caused. Written and self-published by a racist man who founded a dangerous white supremacist organization, The Turner Diaries has long been viewed as a fundamental manual of extremism. While other more well-known cultural artifacts like The Catcher in the Rye (a favorite of presidential and other assassins) or The Anarchist Cookbook (a well-known “murder manual” for terrorists, mass shooters, and other extremists) have captured the public consciousness as bait for potentially violent, disaffected loners, The Turner Diaries has been little-known for decades outside of extremist circles. But within those extremist circles, it became well-established as a core text due to its use as, essentially, a training manual for America’s largest neo-Nazi organization — and then the internet made it more accessible than ever. Although The Turner Diaries is fiction, its narrative mirrors recent real-world events, probably because many modern-day extremists have been so influenced by it. We can see that influence in the most direct and chilling way — because, among other things, The Turner Diaries ends with a violent terrorist coup against the US government, not unlike the January 6 Capitol insurrection. But while The Turner Diaries is foundational to modern white supremacy’s terrorist tactics, it may have shaped the ideology even more — and that’s an influence that will be harder to remove than the book itself. The Turner Diaries was first published in its entirety in 1978 under the pseudonym Andrew Macdonald. The real author was William Luther Pierce — a racist man the hate-watch group Southern Poverty Law Center dubbed “America’s most important Nazi” of the 20th century. It would be hard to overstate Pierce’s galling contributions to the cause of US white supremacy — and that’s without considering The Turner Diaries. (…) The book contains lurid, graphic violence carried out against liberals, government officials, members of the media, and Black and Jewish citizens. It gleefully urges white militias to rise up and engage in guerrilla warfare against the oppressive government — think the ’80s action movie Red Dawn, in which Russia invades the US and small-town civilians fight back with renegade tactics, but with more racism and bloodlust. Among other things, the book features car bombings, suicide missions, and one scene in which white supremacist terrorists hang politicians en masse — a scene that some experts felt had echoes in the Capitol insurrection, during which a gallows was erected amid calls to hang certain elected officials. The book chillingly culminates in Turner planning to fly a plane into the Pentagon in a suicide bombing mission — an act the narrative tells us ushered in a “New Era” of white supremacist rule and made Turner a national folk hero to the subsequent Aryan civilization. By all accounts, Pierce intended the book to be influential, more than just a work of fiction, and it was. In many chapters of the National Alliance, the book was required reading and was essentially presented to new members as an instruction manual. Pierce also intended it to glorify violence against nonwhites and progressives. (…) After its serial publication, Pierce published The Turner Diaries in novel form in 1978 through his own independent press, after which it circulated underground for over a decade, known mainly only to white nationalists, extremists, and the people who kept a close watch on them. By the late 1980s, an advertisement for the book had appeared in the extremist survivalist magazine Soldier of Fortune, making it available via mail order. That’s how it ended up in the hands of an Army recruit named Timothy McVeigh. ater, at McVeigh’s trial for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing — the worst terrorist attack on US soil prior to 9/11 — McVeigh’s fellow soldiers would testify that he was obsessed with the book and pored over it constantly. He sold copies of the book at gun shows, and mailed others to friends and family urging them to read it. One of them did read it, and later recognized McVeigh’s attack on the Oklahoma City federal building as drawing straight from The Turner Diaries’ terrorist template. When authorities arrested McVeigh, they found excerpts from the book in his car.

via vox: How a dystopian neo-Nazi novel helped fuel decades of white supremacist terrorism

Cover of The Turner Diaries (1st ed.)
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