Thursday, January 15, 2015

My Review of The Turner Diaries

I finally took my own advice (I'm good at dishing it out, not so good at taking it myself) and read The Turner Diaries. I was fully prepared to hate it -- I was looking forward to talking about a constipated writing style, cardboard cutout characters, a stumbling plot and wooden prose descriptions. I was actually more than a little disappointed when I got none of that stuff. It is, very surprisingly and for the most part, well-written.

The very first chapter, in which the narrator describes four "Negroes" from the "political police" kicking down his door to search for guns (which are of course outlawed), is a Wayne LaPierre wet dream. Soon our "hero" and the members of his group, The Organization (as "the resistance" is called), organized like a series of communist-like "cells", blows up the FBI building with a truck bomb containing ... ammonium nitrate. It's not a coincidence that Timothy McVeigh had two pages from this book in his getaway car after the Oklahoma City bombing. They were the very two pages that describe the preparations for blowing up the FBI; I won't provide it here --it's a workable blueprint for bomb making.

Ultimately, I think that it's really an inversion of, and a through-the-looking-glass take, on the Weather Underground's journey in the early 70s. Take away all the White Supremacy stuff and you have a ripping good tale, a dystopian alternate history/sci-fi take on the future as imagined in 1978. All of the wackjob stuff you would expect is in here: Confiscation of guns, requirement to have an electronic ID to buy stuff, the need to go "underground" and fight against The System, the stockpiling of weapons and bomb-making materials.

I'm generally a big fan of the dystopian fiction genre (e.g. The Iron Heel by Jack London, 1984 by George Orwell, It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis). But this is really beyond the pale -- I've never read anything that is so matter-of-fact about the necessity to elevate the White Race by killing off all "subhuman mongrels", e.g. the blacks, the Jews, the Chicanos/Hispanics, the Asians, the mixed-race whites, etc. The list of intended victims runs into the billions.

While in the main the book is a gripping narrative of the actions of one Earl Turner, in the last quarter of the book or so it veers off into racist and anti-Semitic polemic that is hard to take. Besides (spoiler alert), all non-whites die in the end. And I do mean all. It's not a pretty prediction, but it's one that the Neo-Nazis and others of their ilk salivate over. This book really does enact the "Final Solution", on everyone that isn't white. Not surprising, since William Pierce, the author, was a Big Shot in the Neo-Nazi movement in this country and founded the National Alliance white-separatist, white nationalist, anti-Semitic organization. That fact was the only thing that kept me from believing that it was intended as a overblown, over-the-top satire on Nazis. You remember Poe's Law. The notorious fascist group, The Order, took its name and behavior directly from the book, which had an organization with the same name and the same designs.

This book is definitely worth reading. if only to get a chilling insight into the thinking of these people.

NOTE: As a sidebar, while I was reading it, I could not help but notice some eerie parallels between this book (1978) and The Talking Heads' song,  "Life During Wartime" (1979) -- was the song inspired by this book and not, despite what David Byrne claimed, the Weather Underground? I can see why he'd try to keep that part to himself.

It's an interesting question. The descriptions of life on the run in the song can be equally -- and is some cases, better --  applied to the events in this book.

Check out the lyrics, especially this line: "Heard about Houston? Heard about Detroit? Heard about Pittsburgh, PA?" That line has always been somewhat of a mystery to me. Until I read this book. The first bomb set off by The Organization (as "the resistance" is called) was set off in Houston. (On September 11, wrong year. Make of that what you will...) Later on, a bomb takes out Detroit, and there is also a surprise and deadly race riot in Pittsburgh by the non-whites who are not willing to kowtow to their new overlords.

It's in the book. I tried to find anything on the Internet that makes this correlation, and I couldn't find it. Maybe I am one of a very few people who have both heard the song enough to remember the lyrics and read this book. It doesn't seem to me that there would be a lot of crossover audience...

You can download The Turner Diaries free in a variety of formats, if you want to read it for yourself. I'm not recommending it as proper reading, but we must know our enemy!

1 Comment:

Katy Anders said...

This ain't no party, This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around.

This book is on my list. I'm up for any book viewed as dangerous, even if I know I'll hate the message going in.