Association for Political and Legal Anthropology
American Ethnological Society
Cosponsored - Oral Presentation Session
I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. . . I’m going in. After this post on October 27, 2018, Robert Bowers is accused of launching his attack on Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing eleven worshippers and stunning the country. Everyone asked the same question: why? New York Timesreporter Richard Faussett was also driven by this question when he interviewed Tony Hovater -- a white nationalist, Nazi sympathizer from Ohio who participated in Charlottesville. Faussett wanted to find answers to Hovater’s turn to radicalism but “could feel the failure [even as I spoke to Mr. Hovater].” Faussett concluded a follow-up article by invoking a Minutemen album title, “What makes a man start fires?”
This paper explores an answer that white nationalists themselves have provided to this question: white genocide. As illustrated in Lane’s “White Genocide Manifesto” and the white nationalist “Fourteen Words” slogan (“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White children), white supremacists argue that whites face a “genocidal” threat from race-mixing, Jewish plots, desegregation, homosexuality, multiculturalism, integration, and white “infanticide” through abortion. If the first part of this paper considers these ideas in the hate rhetorics of contemporary white nationalists like Bowers and Hovater, the second part looks at precursors of white genocide, ranging from The Turner Diariesto tracts on “race suicide,” scientific racism, Jewish conspiracy, and Aryan superiority. In doing so, I link white genocide to broader discussions of race, genocide, and structural power.