I have known of The Turner Diaries for at least twenty years, but never considered reading it until J.M. Berger published The Turner Legacy, an analysis of the history and impact of this book, known as the bible of violent white nationalists.
The book itself is unremarkable; 120 pages of slightly less than young adult novel grade writing, produced in the early 1970s, published as a collected work in 1978, and set in the early 1990s. The nature of the work is such that it remains a functional tool of the final step of radicalization today. The original author, William Luther Pierce, adjusted the original timeline from the 1980s to 1990s when the work was published as a book, and an editor today could easily substitute 2021 as the start year.
I only read about thirty pages of the book, but I read every page of Berger’s analysis. The unintentional genius of Pierce’s work isn’t clear to the casual reader, but Berger makes it accessible. The reason this book is so influential is a combination of the writing style, which appeals to the less educated, it’s relatively formless nature, which permits the reader to mentally insert his own specific views at the appropriate points, and the implicit assumptions about the likely reader’s place in the progression towards violence.
Five Stages of Violent Extremism
The Turner Diaries presume anyone reading it has already reached stage four, and is engaged in self-critique. Are they doing enough for “the cause”? The book provides methods and motivations to act immediately. Six groups and nine “lone wolves” did take action, killing 200 people, the bulk of whom died in the Oklahoma City bombing.
Victims Attributed To The Turner Diaries
Given the rhetoric flowing from Donald Trump regarding race, guns, and the legitimacy of our electoral process, we should assume that a new wave of violence is about to erupt, and that The Turner Diaries will again provide the template for such activity. The worst event credited to the influence of this book, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, was committed by veterans who had taken part in the thirty eight days of ground combat during Desert Storm.
Today there are half a million veterans who have seen hardcore urban combat in Iraq and long distance counter-insurgency in Afghanistan. Our Congress simply abandoned about 30,000 of them, mostly men who had closed head IED injuries, who were dismissed with PDO (personality disorder) discharges, leaving them with no benefits. The rest are also being shortchanged in various ways as the excitement (and profit) of the endless war dwindles. We were always going to have some trouble with returning veterans, but this mistreatment sets the stage for it to be orders of magnitude worse than if we had, as a nation, done the principled thing.