by Ernest Hogan
I originally wanted to just write about The Turner Diaries as it related to science fiction, but then this Nazi punk committed an atrocity in Charleston, S.C., and a big, flaming chingada broke loose across the land. I read the book, took notes, and found I had way too much material for one blog post, so I decided to to a book review with the current-events angle over at Mondo Ernesto, and talk about the sci-fi issue, and how it relates to Chicanos, here in this Chicanonautica at La Bloga.
Yes, The Turner Diaries is science fiction, or more specifically, speculative fiction (there's ain't must sci in that there fi). They would have called it social science fiction back in the old days. It's also an example of a work of spec fic that had an impact on the real world. “We all wanna change the world, shoobie doo wah, oh, shoobie do wah,” as the Beatles said.
Timothy McVeigh, the infamous Oklahoma City Bomber, was a fan and promoter of The Turner Diaries. He was into science fiction, and liked to use the pseudonym “Tuttle” after the Robert De Niro character in Terry Gilliam's dystopian film Brazil. When asked about the people he killed, he said:
“Think about the people as if they were storm troopers in Star Wars. They may be individually innocent, but they are guilty because they work for the Evil Empire.”
Just categorize people in the right way, strip them of their humanity, and the killing becomes easy. Like some perverse cosplay gone horribly wrong. It's also the central lesson of The Turner Diaries.
In a way, The Turner Diaries is a precursor to the now popular zombie apocalypse genre. A lot of people find pleasure in imagining that most of the people in the world aren't human, and it's okay to commit acts of bloody violence against them, because, after all you're human, and you have to survive.
But how much of your humanity is left after you're covered in gore?
Replace the word Black (for some reason Pierce capitalized it, but leaves white in lower case in the early chapters) with zombie, and a new audience can be attracted!
You probably will have to change Jew, Chicano, and non-White, too . . .
Yes, Chicanos are mentioned, and recognized as a threat. The fact that we are mixed-blooded makes us especially revolting. Though at one point Turner and some of his Organization buddies (who all seem like clones of Turner, maybe in a movie one actor could play all the parts, his girlfriend could be him in drag, and he could also do black- and brownface . . .) disguise themselves as Chicanos:
“. . . we applied a dark stain to our faces and hands and pinned Chicano-sounding nametags on our fatigue uniforms. We figured we could pass as mestizos – so long as we didn't run into any real Chicanos.”
Chicanos and other mongrels – I'm a mongrel and damn proud of it, so I'm not offended – along with “race-traitors” are all butchered in the book's final act that goes on and on in a worldwide, bloody purge that makes Earth an all-white utopia – like a lot of the science fiction of the 20th century.
How it must have delighted Timothy McVeigh. Dylann Roof too. And those I wonder how those who are disturbed by the growing trend in diversity in speculative fiction would react?
But what is utopia to some, is dystopia to others. I can read The Turner Diaries because of my twisted sense of humor and fascination with propaganda and the grotesque, but as a proud Chicano/mongrel/Raza Cosmica kind of guy, I prefer books like George S. Schuyler's Black Empire, Sam Greenlee's The Spook Who Sat by the Door, Hank Lopez's Afro-6, and Chester Himes' Plan B, they're all better written, and are about fighting for humanity rather than destroying it.
If you want to change the world, do it by creating, not destroying.
Ernest Hogan is guilty of impure acts of artistic and literary mayhem.