For reasons that I won't go into right now, I've done a great deal of research on Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing. Any serious inquiry into Mr. McVeigh's psychology and motives would be incomplete without turning over that scariest of rocks, The Turner Diaries.
There are a number of things in my psychology that have fueled my morbid fascination with the Militia Movement-White Supremacist-Anti-Federalist axis. The Turner Diaries are written by William Pierce, former physics professor and virulent anti-semitic white supremacist. Pierce's program involves a "white vanguard" gaining control of a nuclear arsenal, and then using the resulting leverage as a way to create the Aryan Nations at nuclear gun point. Sometimes, I wish that the Feds would just roll a fuel-air explosive out the back of a c-130 and blow the motherfucker and the rest of his cracker trash ilk back to the 1800's where they belong. Of course, the Feds really shouldn't be doing this to anyone, but they have all the good hardware. However, this would be a super project for a Left Wing Special Action Group. Let me know if you're interested.
But back to our investigation. For me, the trail begins very close to home. The start of my interest in Pierce starts with the fact that he owns a 400+ acre compound in Pocahontas County, West Virginia . Now, I have family in Pocahontas, and I was a little shocked to discover that the man that inspired The Order and (at least in part) SGT McVeigh was tucked away in the deep hollows of those green mountains. There is a great deal of speculation that Pierce funded his purchase of the land with stolen monies from Bob Matthews, the bank robbing leader of The Order. However, the forensic accountants at the FBI have never been able to prove it, but then Pierce is a very intelligent, if very pathological, man.
In my research on McVeigh, I read The Turner Diaries, many times in fact. The book is terrifying, filled with a numbing repetition of violence and racist vitriol. And yet, it has a kind of compulsive force - a strange cross-pollination between fascist political theory (a la Starship Troopers) and the Men's Adventure genre, stuff like Mack Bolan "The Executioner" and pulp westerns. Like a tuning fork, the text is able to induce vibration in those whose minds are already cut to a sympathetic harmonic.
When I discovered that the author's compound was about 90 minutes from my parents house, I decided that I would visit, under the guise of purchasing a rare first edition of TTD from the author. I'm white, keep my hair short, and have a slight hillbilly accent. I figure I could pass.
I wanted to email someone before I came out, so that the skins at the gate wouldn't drill me at the gate with their pre-ban AK-47's. I knocked around the National Alliance website, looking for the contact information. That's when I found the reading list. There was a list of "Recommended Reading for the Racially Aware." And there was a good deal of Jack London on that list.
This was confusing. After all, wasn't London the guy that wrote "To Build A Fire" and Call of the Wild? But it turns out that while the self-educated London had some very progressive ideas about labor and class struggle, he had some very confused ideas about race and evolution. In short, he was a white supremacist. That's something they didn't tell you in grade school. Actually, that's something they didn't even bother to tell me in college, while I was getting my English degree. At the top of the Pierce-approved London reading list was a book called The Iron Heel.
I decided that I'd better get my hands on this book and find out what the hell was going on. It took a Powell's special order, but I finally got that slim volume in my hand. That was when I discovered The Turner Diaries' dirty secret: It's a ripoff - plagiarized.
The structures of the books are nearly identical. The diary format is stolen here. The "cataclysmic struggle" is here. The spontaneous uprisings and secret police are here, along with the totalizing "System" in the control of a rich and powerful few. Rip-off job that The Turner Diaries is, it's essentially The Iron Heel that's had a hardcore racism virus run against it.
But is any of this really a surprise? Should it surprise anyone that Piece came along and floated the latent racism of London's other works to the surface, cross-breeding to create this bastard progeny? I think London would have approved of the anti-black sentiment, turned a blind eye to the jew-baiting, and been openly horrified by the overt fascism of Pierce's latter-day nazism. But any kind of racial supremacism is like a reactive gas, waiting to combine with other elements, to corrode and weaken the whole. Should it surprise anyone that Pierce is an intellectual freak-of-nature, somehow gifted with the intellectual force to become a physicist, yet weak-minded enough to need the crutch of plagiarism? He's a virus-writer, but instead of cranking out VB script that exploits the security holes, he cranks out a meme virus that slips in through the security holes in the minds of the uninnoculated or compromised. Like a virus writer, he knew a good piece of open-source code when he saw it, The Iron Heel. All that remained was to splice in his own hacks, tag it with his handle, and drop it into the fertile organic network of American free speech. Sure, it's a crude hack, a step up from script-kiddiedom. But it gets the job done. And that's all it needs to do. It doesn't need to be art, it just needs to slip in the back door.
I think my morbid fascination with this, as a kind of freelance literary profiler of the far right, stems in some part from my own shame. The racism I felt when I left the mountain town of my youth, the heart of the white mountains. The fear, and suspicion, and hate that came so easy to me when I first met black people, gay people. My sheltered mind went into a kind of system shock when confronted with even a small slice of the outside world. Somehow I got past it, through nothing more than everyday exposure. And I kept reading, I had a whole university library and 5 years of unstructured time to read. And all that code when into my mental lexicon of memes and thought proteins, cross-indexed for easy access and future reference. And now, when I read something like The Turner Diaries, the men in the sub-mircron filtration Chemurion suits emerge from the clean room with their vacuum traps. They hoover up the memes and peel back the protein sheath. The virus gets spun down in the centrifuge, cut to pieces with enzymes, run through the sequencer. And the white coated man emerges from the lab, with a clipboard, and announces, "You know what? This looks very similar to something we indexed in 1995..." And they begin to formulate a vaccine - for widespread distribution, to stop the spread.