In 1978, an American neo-Nazi published The Turner Diaries, an infamous race-war novel that went on to inspire so many far-right and violent extremists in the subsequent decades. So it wasn’t a huge shock when anti-democratic rioters showed up at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, casually recommending that people read the atrociously racist book.
“Please don’t go buy this book. The money can still go back to white power groups, if you do,” Kathleen Belew, a University of Chicago assistant professor of history, tells hosts Will Sommer and Asawin Suebsaeng on this week’s episode of the Fever Dreams podcast. “It’s the book that’s very important to Timothy McVeigh before the Oklahoma City bombing. And it’s come back up around January 6th. We have footage of Proud Boys instructing journalists to go read The Turner Diaries.”
Belew, an author and professor who Sommer dubs “one of the sharpest minds out there on white supremacists and political violence in the United States,” sees other parallels between the fascist novel and the horrible day in January. She points out that the noose and makeshift gallows erected outside the Capitol during the pro-Trump riot is a possible “reference to The Turner Diaries, which has this thing called ‘The Day of the Rope.’” And, Belew adds, “notably in The Turner Diaries, there is an attack on the U.S. Capitol.”
Belew also discusses the similarities between the white-power and far-right movements of 1990s America, and the white supremacist elements today that try to draw influence and numbers from the horrors and conditions of the past half-decade.
Elsewhere on the episode, Suebsaeng and Sommer discuss the right’s latest alternative to Twitter, the mellifluous Gettr (no snickering at the name, please), which is causing a lot of controversy—even in Trumpist circles—because of its connection to an exiled Chinese billionaire named Guo Wengui.
You might remember Guo as the guy on whose yacht Steve Bannon was arrested. He’s a flashy fellow, with a real penchant for Lego sculptures, furs, and rap, who once tried to launch a fashion line modeled by Rudy Giuliani’s assistant. And even as longtime Trump adviser Jason Miller, Gettr’s CEO, downplayed Guo’s involvement in the app to our co-hosts, Guo has been boasting on his own website that Gettr is the culmination of all his hopes and dreams. But since Guo has had some beef with other Trumpworld figures like Roger Stone, yeah, there’s drama.
Also, looks like Trump is not joining Gettr yet despite Jason Miller’s best pleas—and some (puritanical) users are annoyed because Gettr keeps serving them up Sonic the Hedgehog crush porn. However, Gettr will match your number of real Twitter followers with imaginary ones on Gettr, so maybe it has a future among clout-chasers after all.
The Daily Beast’s Kelly Weill also joins this episode to talk about the ongoing implosion of the Oath Keepers. Spare a tear for these tough-guy rioters, who just cannot stop snitching on each other to the Feds. A few of them accepted plea deals last week, which is causing all the others to freak out, and even though leader Stewart Rhodes has not yet been charged by prosecutors, his alleged money mismanagement—buying himself steaks and lingerie on the Oath Keepers’ dime—has led to more than a few disgruntled followers. Maybe one of them will turn state’s evidence, although a former Oath Keeper tells Kelly that he thinks his erstwhile brethren are all “lemmings” who will follow Stewart Rhodes to the end.
And finally, don’t miss Suebsaeng and Sommer’s thoughtful discussion of the Purge franchise (plug: “The rare movie that we talk about on the podcast that you should actually see”), along with an update on audit-mania. Spoiler: The right wants to audit even red states now, which, as Suebsaeng points out, “gets to the further masturbatory element of it.” So if Sidney Powell has any say in it, it looks like Sonic is going to Texas next.