The fall of civilisation

(First published on July 06, 2019)

CNN recently aired a documentary by Dr Fareed Zakaria titled ‘State of Hate’. There is reasonable cause to believe that in itself this work will become an inflection point, and for all the wrong reasons. But before we get there let me point out the report’s merits. It is very well-researched and well-presented work. Like any other long-time fan of Dr Zakaria would tell you, most of the times he instinctively gets things right. In fact, in this report he manages to highlight a very crucial part of the puzzle that is the rise of the white supremacist intolerance in the West and which I will seek to dissect in some detail a bit later. And for what is its worth, this work is the start of mostly honest conversation whose time has come. But in its attempt to deconstruct the edifice of white supremacism the report features one Jared Taylor, President of the New Century Foundation, an organisation often accused of white supremacism.

Mr Taylor was interviewed by Dr Zakaria and as happens in any documentary report of this nature, most provocative parts of it were retained. What the producers of the programme perhaps did not realise was that their guest would release an unedited audio version of the entire interview. When you listen to the unedited version you realise that perhaps Mr Taylor was not the right choice for what the report was seeking to accomplish. One, he does not condone violence of any kind. Two, he comes out as a very smart man who knows how to argue his way out of a situation where he is being treated as a hostile witness, albeit politely. Make no mistakes. He does believe in racial hierarchy, the superiority of his race over many others, but he shows deference to other races too and even his radical solutions pale in comparison to the kind of violence we have recently witnessed in the name of the white identity. His worldview, while apparently rational seems driven by an irrational fear of losing his identity. But if I had a nickel every time I heard something weird coming out of a person’s mouth, I would be one of the richest men in the world. He is not exactly the representative sample of the violent supremacist movement we have come to regard as a threat. This is not to say that his interview and the way he was represented in the report will not be used by more radical groups. These groups have almost always portrayed media as deeply dishonest and compromised among other things. Nothing here helps dispel that case.

In this report, Dr Zakaria refers to a curious little book that led to the radicalisation of Timothy McVeigh, the perpetrator of 1995 Oklahoma City bombing who was executed by lethal injection exactly two months before 9/11. The book is called Turner Diaries and is written by William Pierce, a physicist turned white radical. You have to read the book to know how clever and frightening work of fiction it is. It is the Rosetta Stone of white radicalism. Earl Turner is a young man who becomes a member of an underground terrorist organisation called the Order. The purpose of this organisation is to bring a white revolution in the US and purge the country of other races. His career starts with a plot of an attack on the FBI building, a place where a conspiracy to introduce an internal passport system is in full swing. Only shortly before this, a conspiracy to confiscate guns has come to fruition and the Order defied it by hiding its weapons. The career progresses in a dialectical manner. First small bombings. Murders. Remorse. Inner dialogue rationalising actions. Dehumanisation of blacks and Jews. Gradually the language becomes harsher, crime more severe. Mixing of races is called mongrelisation, those guilty of it race traitors. The triumph comes in the shape of mass hangings of other races and nuking the better part of the country. But it doesn’t stop there. Purges are encouraged in Europe. Outside Europe and the US, this job is accomplished through the nuking of Tel Aviv, China, and many other parts.

While this work, often referred to as the Bible of white supremacy, works as the go-to guide of this specter. As a result, it has inspired many attacks from the murder of Jo Cox, to various other crimes. And the framing is important. The Order is faced by the tyranny of the System, a pejorative reference to the federal government. The reader is mentally prepared that he/she will be accused of being a racist. Reading this book you realise how easy it is for all this to become real. Television, the emblem of moral decay, is dominated by minority communities especially heavy accented Jews. One would have thought that Dr Zakaria would have read this part too and realised how the representative of a minority community would sound like talking about these matters. Perhaps a white person could present this case better. Or perhaps he is an idea ahead of its time.

Speaking of ideas ahead of their time, if not out of place, president Obama was one. Incredible damage was done during his time. That is why you see a surge in white nationalism. It is a problem that needs much healing. As Stephen Covey once pointed out that you cannot be expected to share something if you are insecure about sharing or haven’t had your heart’s fill. He uses his daughter’s example to make the point. In view of this, Trump is perhaps what the doctor ordered. He often flirts with things bordering extremes but is in a better position to win the trust of those who fear the loss of their identity. And despite many controversies, as his speech on this Independence Day proves his voice can be useful in healing the racial divides. Perhaps the Democrats ought to pay some heed too and be reluctant to experiment with ideas whose time has not come.

In the end, this entire episode also makes a point for me. When Dr Zakaria argues with Mr Taylor that by virtue of being of Indian origin he too is an Aryan and a Caucasian, his assertion is immediately rejected. I have been saying for long that while Indians and Pakistanis criticise each other, they are viewed as the same by the world. What they say about each other, or Arabs and Israelis say about each other is retained and used against them. The latter is important because in his hate of Muslims, Mr Netanyahu continues to empower far right in the West. Perhaps someone ought to present him with a copy of Turner Diaries.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2019.


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