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memri
September 6, 2019 No.
1472

The Evolving White Supremacy Ideology And Its Protagonists

By: Michael Davis, Ze'ev B. Begin, and Yigal Carmon*


Introduction: Deeds Are Led By Words

The simplistic notion that terrorists, whether Muslim jihadi or white supremacist, are just "cowards" and "mentally ill" is still prevalent even among high-level decision makers. Reacting to the El Paso shooting on August 4, 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted: "Today's shooting in El Paso, Texas was not only tragic, it was an act of cowardice." On August 5, in his White House statement after an additional shooting occurred in Dayton, Ohio, Mr. Trump alluded to white supremacism as a dangerous ideology, but went on to characterize the shooters as "people that are very, very seriously mentally ill." On the same day, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney explained on ABC's This Week show that "these are sick people. You cannot be a white supremacist and be normal in the head. These are sick people. You know it, I know it, the president knows it."

These observations echo similar attitudes concerning jihadi terrorism in Europe. In May 2017, following the Manchester Arena terrorist attack, UK Prime Minister Theresa May denounced the as "callous and cowardly."[1] In August 2017, French Interior Minister Gérard Collomb declared: "We are working with the Minister of Health to try and identify all profiles of those that may take action tomorrow... the government is thinking of mobilizing all  psychiatric hospitals and private psychiatrists to try and deter the threat of individual terrorists..."[2]

Sociopolitical developments of the last decades led to new arguments that have become part of hate discourse – namely, that European culture and traditions are being endangered by immigrants who will replace it. These arguments, that expand the scope of existing hatred against African-Americans, Jews, and the LGBTQ community, appeal to many. Participants in the new discourse enjoy a sense of belonging to a group of loyalists, sharing admiration of their heroes, and using jargon that has been newly developed, comprising catchy slogans, smartly coded acronyms, and visual symbols. Social media is being leveraged to quickly spread these messages to an eager audience of thousands. For example, a recent study shows that the number of tweets mentioning the "Great Replacement" conspiracy theory, which was introduced by Jean R.G. Camus in France in 2011, increased from 120,000 in 2014 to 330,000 in 2018 (mainly in Europe).[3]

Thus, in recent years, prophets of this new white supremacist theory have been rather successful in disseminating their doctrine. They have convinced many that what they call "the White race" faces a concrete and immediate danger of losing its special status, or even the extinction of its identity and culture through "White genocide" arising from mass immigration, either to Europe from Africa and the Middle East or to the U.S. from Latin America. The declared enemies are not only these immigrants themselves but also those who enable immigration through their alleged global influence – that is, the Jews. These apocalyptic depictions encourage urgent, concrete action, in order to overcome the danger. The arguments and symbolism developed by white supremacist groups have become effective in recruiting new supporters, instilling in their minds a sense of mission and urgency and driving some of them to action, namely carrying out terrorist acts against their perceived enemies. According to their statements, they hope to achieve the direct purpose of reducing the number of these enemies – including through the provocation of civil war in the U.S. – and the indirect aim of showing the way to others who would follow them. As shown below, they have been quite successful in inspiring followers. Thus, although the history of white supremacy is relatively short, the effect of its indoctrination is comparable to the centuries-old preaching leading to jihadi terror. This new pace is of course facilitated by the social networks.

Following the El Paso shooting, a new level of alert to the danger of white supremacist violence has been reached in the U.S. (e.g. "We Worked To Defeat The Islamic State; White Nationalist Terrorism Is An Equal Threat"[4]). There are indeed fundamental similarities between Muslim jihadi terrorists and white supremacist terrorists (see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1457, Online Non-Jihadi Terrorism: Identifying Potential Threats, May 30, 2019), but regarding the vital struggle against their incitement in the U.S. there is an important difference: Unless they are jihadis, U.S. authorities will not act against domestic extremists spreading incitement. Thus, in his testimony in the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 23, 2019, FBI director Christopher Wray stated clearly: "We, the FBI, don't investigate ideology, no matter how repugnant. We investigate violence, and any extremist ideology, when it turns to violence, we are all over it."[5] However, for its victims, when ideology turns to violence, it is too late.

In struggling against terrorism of both origins, one must first realize that deeds are led by words which, in turn, reflect ideology. This being the case, the struggle must start with fighting white supremacist incitement across social media. Thus, the authorities' ability to do so effectively hinges on the criminalization of such incitement, as it aids and abets terrorism. In the U.S. this is a formidable challenge, since freedom of speech is cherished by Americans across the political spectrum as an all-important pillar of American democracy. However, the 11 white supremacist terrorist attacks in this decade prove that circumstances have drastically changed. Some of these terrorists operated after careful selection of the locations and timing of their attacks: an African Methodist Episcopal church, synagogues, and mosques – specifically during prayer times – or Latinos in a city known to host many of them. Hence, inciting against "the African-Americans," "the Jews," or "the Latino immigrants" can no longer be considered a general, vague threat. As shown in this report, these terrorist attacks are directly influenced by white supremacist incitement and by previous attacks, even from across the oceans. The evolving reality calls for a fresh look into the legal tools needed to combat this danger. 

The aim of this report is to briefly describe the main sources of inspiration of white supremacist terrorists who have acted since 2011, and to show that white supremacist argumentation, jargon, and symbols are demonstrably both contagious and dangerous.


Fig. 1: "Lineage" of white supremacist terrorists as stated by them. This is an updated and modified version of a figure published in MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1457, Online Non-Jihadi Terrorism: Identifying Potential Threats, May 30, 2019.

Urgency

White supremacist propaganda creates the impression that the danger to what supremacists refer to as "the White race" is imminent and that immediate action to reverse the process is needed. The following example illustrates that indoctrination regarding the fate of the white majority in the U.S.: a countdown to the time when, according to statistical projections, the U.S. will no longer have a white majority, which is assumed will occur in 2045.[6]


Fig. 2: The ongoing countdown by seconds to the loss of a white majority in the U.S.

Ideological Literature

The use of ideological literature as a source of inspiration is evident among many white supremacist groups and individuals. These books, at times, even serve as "professional guidebooks" providing operational ideas to be implemented in real life. An example of this came to light in the wake of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, when pages of The Turner Diaries – which include a call for attacking federal buildings – were found in the vehicle of Timothy McVeigh, the perpetrator.

While the "white supremacist library" includes books probably numbering in the dozens, there are few books that are regularly promoted and serve as an ideological basis for white supremacist cause and operation: Siege, The Turner Diaries, The Great Replacement and Mein Kampf.

The Turner Diaries (1978)

A 1978 novel by the American white supremacist, neo-Nazi, antisemitic author, and political commentator William Pierce. In 1973, Pierce founded the National Alliance, an organization that was intended to be a political vanguard that would ultimately create a white nationalist movement that would overthrow the U.S. federal government.

The Turner Diaries, which Pierce wrote under the pen name Andrew Macdonald, is a fictional account of a guerrilla war waged by a white supremacist organization that aims to overthrow the U.S. government and set up a neo-Nazi regime. In this book, violent attacks and public executions of "race-traitors" of the white European race take place. Such "traitors" include white women cohabiting with blacks, Jews, or other non-White males. The attacks take place in southern California on August 1, 1993, which is denoted as "the Day of the Rope."

White supremacists online refer to this frequently and share many calls for carrying out what it describes. For example, in the manifesto attributed to Poway, CA synagogue shooter John Earnest, one finds: "Some of you have been waiting for The Day of the Rope for years. Well, The Day of the Rope is here right now."[7]

Siege (1992)

This book is a compilation of newsletters written in the 1980s by neo-Nazi James Mason in collaboration with sect leader and mass murderer Charles Manson. Focusing on Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ themes, it calls for the establishment of a network of decentralized terror cells and for taking up arms against the "system." The book is a main inspiration for the Atomwaffen Division group, which has promoted it and Mason's ideas as "Siege Culture."[8] This book is also a recurring theme in white supremacist circles, under the slogan "Read Siege."


Fig. 3: The organization Iron Youth posted an image of an armed white man and woman, recommended The Turner Diaries and Seige, stating that The Turner Diaries "lays out a good gameplan for what we need to do immediately before, as well as after Siege kicks off." The hashtags on this post include #TheTurnerDiaries, #NatSoc, #Siege, #EcoFasc, and #prepper. Iron Youth Gab page, March 31, 2019. For more on this group see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8160 White Supremacist Neo-Nazi Group Works To Recruit New Members On Gab, Twitter, Instagram, And BitChute – With Intent To Take Violent Action, July 8, 2019.

The Great Replacement (2011)

This book was written by the extreme-right French writer Camus. The "Great Replacement" theory predicts that ethnic French people (Caucasian French) will be replaced by immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa. Thus, European civilization and its identity are in danger of being overrun by mass immigration, especially of Muslim origin, with the aid of a transnational group of globalist capitalist ruling elites called "Mondialists." Within a few years, this conspiracy theory became influential in far-right and white nationalist circles in Europe and also in the U.S. Christchurch mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant adopted "The Great Replacement" as the title of his manifesto.

Mein Kampf (1925)

This book by Adolf Hitler is prominent within white supremacist circles. This autobiographical manifesto, which outlines his political and ideological worldviews, is used as a political, cultural and social platform for many individuals and groups, not only by self-proclaimed neo-Nazis. This is apparent both in the symbols of the online activity – advocating Hitler and Nazi Germany by images, videos and memes – and in the operational aspects of the activity. 


Fig. 4: Blog post featuring a segment from the audio book of Mein Kampf featuring men marching with swastika signs and shields with the emblem of the violent racist skinhead Hammerskins. The blog author, bottom right, states that he is a member of the Combat 18 neo-Nazi terrorist organization. See also Self-Proclaimed Member Of 'Combat 18' Neo-Nazi Terror Organization Outlawed In Canada And Other Organizations Shares Hate Speech, Support For San Diego Synagogue Shooter, June 28, 2019.

Sources Of Inspiration For White Supremacist Activity In Recent Years, As Stated By The Perpetrators Themselves

The information listed below showcases the literature and terrorist attacks that have served as sources of inspiration for attacks that took place between 2011 and 2019. The information shows that in 11 attacks during in this time period, 184 people were killed and at least 387 others were wounded.

Date

Title

Description

1925

Publication of Mein Kampf

Adolf Hitler's autobiographical manifesto, which outlines his political and ideological worldviews.

1978

Publication of The Turner Diaries

The Turner Diaries, a novel by William Luther Pierce, outlines a civil war between the white supremacist "Organization" and the U.S. government ("The System") which is controlled by Jews. In the book, the Day of the Rope, which takes place on August 1, is an event in which the white supremacists carry out brutal massacres, ethnically cleansing Los Angeles by killing its Jewish and black inhabitants, and publicly hanging people labeled "race traitors," including federal officials and white women who have had relations with black men.

Pages of this book were found in the vehicle of Timothy McVeigh, who together with Terry Nichols bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, killing 168 people and wounding some 700. David Copeland, a member of the neo-Nazi group National Socialist Movement, said he was inspired by the book to carry out the London nail bombings in April 1999, which resulted in the death of three people and wounded 140. This day was also mentioned by John Earnest in the manifesto attributed to him.

1992

Publication of Siege

A collection of newsletters that James Mason wrote in the 1980s in collaboration with sect leader and mass murderer Charles Manson. With a focus on Holocaust denial and antisemitic and anti-gay themes, it calls for the establishment of a network of decentralized terror cells and for taking up arms against the "system."

2011

Publication of The Great Replacement

Camus's book warns against the purported danger of the replacement of ethnic French people (i.e. Caucasian French) by immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa. According to his theory, these immigrants are purportedly aided by a trans-national group of globalist capitalist ruling elites called "Mondialists."

07/22/2011

Oslo, Norway attacks

Anders Behring Breivik carried out two sequential terrorist attacks. He first detonated a car bomb in Oslo, which killed eight people and wounded about 200. He then proceeded to the island of Utoya, the site of a summer camp run by the youth division of the ruling Norwegian Labor Party. He used semi-automatic weapons to fire on campers and staff, killing 69 and wounding 66. Breivik stated that he had chosen to target this group in order to raise awareness of his manifesto and his ideology, which is anti-Muslim and anti-immigration. He directly inspired Tarrant

04/13/2014

Overland Park Jewish Community Center shooting

Frazier Miller was a neo-Nazi who for many years preached hatred of Jews, and in 1987 wrote: "The Jews are our main and most formidable enemies." In 2014, he shot dead three people near the Overland Park Jewish Community Center, near Kansas City, Kansas They were later found to be Christians.

06/17/2015

Charleston church Shooting

Dylann Roof entered the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, shot dead nine people and wounded three during an evening service. He claimed that his goal was to start a race war. His manifesto reflected many tenets of white supremacism, among them the belief that African Americans were raping white woman. He directly inspired Tarrant.

01/29/2017

Quebec City mosque shooting

Alexandre Bissonnette entered the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City, shot and killed nine and wounded 19 during an evening service. Bissonnette had been known to espouse far-right, white nationalist, and anti-Muslim views, and had harassed Muslims on a Facebook page for refugees. He directly inspired Tarrant.

04/07/2017

2017 Stockholm truck attack

Rakhmat Akilov, a 39-year-old asylum seeker from Uzbekistan, hijacked a truck and deliberately drove into crowds along a central street, killing five people and wounding 14, including 11-year-old Ebba Akerlund. Tarrant wrote: "To take revenge for Ebba Akerlund."

19/06/2017

Finsbury Park attack

Darren Osborne drove into a crowd of Muslims leaving a mosque after prayers in Finsbury Park, London, killing one person and wounding nine others. He directly inspired Tarrant.

02/03/2018

Macerata attack

Fascist activist Luca Traini, shot and wounded six African immigrants in Macerata, Italy. He claimed to have done this to avenge the murder of 18-year-old Pamela Mastropietro, whom he believed had been murdered by an African immigrant. He directly inspired Tarrant.

10/27/2018

Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

Robert Bowers entered the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA during morning services, shooting to death 11 people and wounding seven. He had been active on social media site Gab, posting antisemitic and white nationalist content. He directly inspired Earnest.

03/15/2019

Christchurch mosque shootings

Brenton Tarrant entered the Al Noor Mosque and later the Linwood Islamic Centre during Friday services, where he shot dead a total of 51 people and wounded 49. In his manifesto, Tarrant expressed xenophobic and white supremacist sentiment calling for the removal of Muslims from European lands and including neo-Nazi symbols such as the Black Sun and the Cross of Odin.  He directly inspired Earnest, Crusius and Manshaus.

04/27/2019

Poway, CA synagogue shooting

John Earnest shot and killed one person and wounded three others at Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, CA, before his weapon jammed. He directly inspired Manshaus.

08/03/2019

El Paso shooting

 

 

 

On August 3, 2019, Patrick Crusius entered a Walmart store in the Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, TX, where he opened fire, killing 22 and wounding 24. A manifesto posted online just prior to the attack and generally attributed to him stated that the attack was inspired by Tarrant's manifesto and was aimed against Latinos,  calling them a threat to the future of white Americans. He directly inspired Manshaus. 

08/10/2019

Baerum Mosque shooting

On August 10, 2019, Philip Manshaus entered the al-Noor Islamic Centre in Baerum, a town 20km outside Oslo, Norway, and opened fire. One person was wounded.

Idolization

A significant method of promoting and celebrating white supremacist ideology is by the attribution of sainthood to white supremacist terrorists, as can be seen in the figures below.


Fig. 5: A meme posted online by Philip Manshaus before he carried out his August 10, 2019 attack in Oslo showing Brenton Tarrant and his "disciples" John Earnest and Patrick Crusius. Tarrant is described as an "Annointed [sic] Saint for his sacrifice," Earnest is described as the "First disciple of Saint Brenton," and Crusius is described as "Directly inspired to fight back by Saint Tarrant." (Source: T.me/Tarrants_Lads/879?single)


Fig. 6: A digitally modified image of Velasquez' "Coronation of the Virgin" showing Hitler and Dylann Roof as God and Jesus respectively crowning Brenton Tarrant with Roof's distinctive bowl haircut; the image was titled "Coronation of the Bowl." See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8171, White Supremacist Online Incitement – Account Review: Neo-Nazi Graphic Designer Incites Against Blacks, Jews, Law Enforcement; Praises Mosque, Church, Synagogue Mass Murderers, July 15, 2019.


Fig. 7: An image glorifying Roof's Charleston church mass shooting, featuring a haloed Roof, gun in hand, above protestors outside the church where the shooting took place, with the text: "Chimps [blacks] lose control when they see the Bowl Patrol" –  the Bowl Patrol being an online group of white supremacists encouraging more attacks like Roof's, posted February 11, 2019. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8171, White Supremacist Online Incitement – Account Review: Neo-Nazi Graphic Designer Incites Against Blacks, Jews, Law Enforcement; Praises Mosque, Church, Synagogue Mass Murderers, July 15, 2019.


Fig. 8: An image idolizing Luca Traini, the Macerata shooter (Source: Nationalvanguard.org/2018/07/forza-nuova-demands-freedom-for-luca-traini). Text on top left: "Luca Traini the vindicator. The defender of Italy. The people's vendetta. The last legionnaire." Text top right: "Thank you hero #LUCATRAINILIBERO [#freelucatraini]." Bottom: "God of Race War" and #PERPAMELA [#forPamela]" – a reference to Pamela Mastropietro, allegedly murdered by an African immigrant. It also includes the emblem, albeit misspelled, of "The Roman Senate and People (SPQR)" In the background is the flag of Italy, with the white supremacist Black Sun symbol.


Fig. 9: A digitally modified image of Caravaggio's "The Inspiration of Saint Matthew" showing Tarrant as an angel and Earnest as Saint Matthew. The creator of this image also cited Earnest's manifesto, in which he wrote: "Tarrant was a catalyst for me personally. He showed me that it could be done. And that it needed to be done. 'WHY WON’T SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING? WHY WON’T SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING? WHY DON'T I DO SOMETHING?' – the most powerful words in his entire manifesto." (Source: Minds.com/newsfeed/980538199141195776)

*Michael Davis is Head of the White Supremacist Online Incitement project at MEMRI; Ze'ev B. Begin is a MEMRI Senior Researcher; Yigal Carmon is President and Founder of MEMRI.

 

[1] Bbc.com/news/uk-40023457, May 23, 2017.

[2]  20minutes.fr/societe/2118715-20170818-terrorisme-gerard-collomb-veut-mobiliser-hopitaux-psychiatriques-
reperer-individus-radicalises, August 18, 2017.

[3] "'The Great Replacement': The Violent Consequences of Mainstreamed Extremism," J. Davey and J. Ebner, Institute for Strategic Dialogue report, 2019; isdglobal.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/The-Great-Replacement-The-Violent-Consequences-of-Mainstreamed-Extremism-by-ISD.pdf.

[4] "We Worked To Defeat The Islamic State. White Nationalist Terrorism Is An Equal Threat," J. R. Allen and B. McGurk, The Washington Post, August 6, 2019; Washingtonpost.com/opinions/we-worked-to-defeat-the-islamic-state-white-nationalist-terrorism-is-an-equal-threat/2019/08/06/e50c90e8-b87d-11e9-bad6-609f75bfd97f_story.html.

[5] Washingtonpost.com/national-security/fbi-faces-skepticism-over-its-anti-domestic-terror-efforts/2019/08/04/c9c928bc-
b6e0-11e9-b3b4-2bb69e8c4e39_story.html, August 5, 2019.

[6] Uswhiteclock.org.

[7] For more on John T. Earnest, see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1454, The Anti-Jewish Manifesto Of John T. Earnest, The San Diego Synagogue Shooter, May 15, 2019.

[8] Spiegel.de/international/the-hate-network-an-inside-look-at-a-global-extremist-group-a-1226861.html, 2018.