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"The Turner Diaries": Fuel for White Supremacists

I've spent half a century (yikes) writing for radio and print—mostly print. I hope to be still tapping the keys as I take my last breath.


A dystopian novel published in 1978 describes the actions of a guerrilla army of white supremacists in taking over the American government. Despite the fact that the book is fiction, it has become a must-read text among the people who cannot tolerate the idea of equality among races. The poorly written diatribe influences racists long after its best before date has expired.

The National Alliance

William Luther Pierce was a man who stirred hatred of non-whites among his followers. He led what he called his National Alliance from a fenced-in compound in Hillsboro, West Virginia. He commanded an “army” of 1,500 skinheads and had fans all over the world.

His goal was to set up all-white homelands from which Blacks, Jews, Latinos, and others would be expelled. Pierce died in 2002 and Deborah Lauter of the Anti-Defamation League said of him that he “created a very regimented, sophisticated network. He was the godfather of hate in this country. I imagine his death will be a blow to the movement.”

Ms. Lauter was right in one respect: the National Alliance did fall apart, but its core beliefs live on and have been amplified.

The Turner Diaries is just one of many race-baiting books.

The Turner Diaries is just one of many race-baiting books.

The Turner Diaries Plot

In 1978, Pierce wrote The Turner Diaries under the pseudonym Andrew Macdonald. The book records the exploits of the fictional Earl Turner, a soldier in a guerrilla army of Aryan extremists. He is portrayed as a national hero in the struggle against a society in disarray created by non-whites.

It starts in 1991 and describes an America with inflation destroying standards of living and soaring crime rates. Increasing numbers of non-whites are swamping the white population into minority status. Non-white immigration is portrayed as a major threat. Black gangs control the streets, invading homes, raping and stealing at will because under an earlier law all privately owned guns have been confiscated.

Turner joins with Aryan sympathizers to take control of the government. In 1999, a truck bomb is exploded outside FBI headquarters by the “Organization” (white supremacists) to overthrow the “System” (American society). And then, Turner undertakes a suicide mission to fly a bomb-laden plane into the Pentagon, crippling the defence nerve centre.

As the Organization takes over, it brings about complete white control of the planet by exterminating non-whites with nuclear weapons.

Influence of The Turner Diaries

The description of the bombing of the FBI building has an eerie echo. In the book, a rental truck is loaded with ammonium nitrate fertilizer, fuel oil, and dynamite. It is detonated shortly after 9 a.m., killing hundreds of people.

On the morning of April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh parked a rented truck outside the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City. It was packed with ammonium nitrate and fuel oil. At 9.02 a.m., the bomb was detonated, tearing off the front of the building and killing 168 people.

A building destroyed...

A building destroyed...

On his way to committing the atrocity, McVeigh carried some pages torn from The Turner Diaries. It's said that he slept with a copy of the book under his pillow.

The book has spawned other hate groups. The Aryan Republican Army and the New Order both cite The Turner Diaries as the source of their inspiration to rob banks, plan to bomb state capitals, and put cyanide in the public water supply.

And, the reach of its ideology has gone far beyond the United States. A shooter killed 50 people in a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand in March 2019. He published a white supremacist manifesto that drew heavily on the racist phrasing The Turner Diaries. He complained that there is a campaign to take away the Second Amendment right of Americans to own guns; another theme in the book.

The El Paso Walmart killer of August 2019 praised the Christchurch murderer and said his target was Hispanics. The geopolitical intelligence group Stratfor points out that the El Paso shooter’s statement specifically mentions “the ‘great replacement theory,’ the idea that white people are going to be replaced by people of color. This concept, sometimes referred to as ‘white genocide,’ has been linked to a number of other killers …” It’s a concept at the core of The Turner Diaries.


Earl Turner’s Ally

An editorial in Boulder Weekly states its premise clearly in its title: “Earl Turner Has an Ally in the White House.”

Joel Dyer writes that U.S. President Donald Trump “has brought his own brand of racist conspiracy theories into the ... mix and given them mass exposure as only a sitting president could.”

He adds that Trump pushes “his fictional accounts of an ongoing invasion of brown murderers, brown drug dealers, brown rapists and brown MS-13 gang members who are said to be attacking our southern border. Trump constantly dehumanizes people of color whether they live in Black urban communities in the U.S., his proclaimed ‘shithole’ countries in Africa and the Caribbean, or are asylum-seekers fleeing violence in Latin American.”

Donald Trump’s policies are about renewed white identity through, for example, banning other kinds of people from the United States and reproductive health policies that are directed toward the propagation of more white children.

— History professor Kathleen Belew

Trump has given up all pretense of using dog-whistle phrases; at his rallies he goes full bull-horn in talking about a Hispanic invasion. He has Tweeted about California’s law providing sanctuary to undocumented immigrants as a “ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept.” He has talked about illegal immigrants (people he actually employs at some of his golf courses) as “animals.”

Words such as “infestation,” “breeding,” and “animals” come straight out of Earl Turner’s playbook.

The extreme hostility to non-white immigrants espoused by the broader white power movement has been massaged and repackaged into the policy positions of Donald Trump and the Republican Party.

— Chauncey DeVega, Salon

Bonus Factoids

  • In July 2019, FBI Director Christopher Wray told the U.S. Congress that the majority of the agency’s domestic-terrorism investigations involve white supremacy movements.
  • In 1973, the U.S. Justice Department laid charges under the Fair Housing Act against Fred Trump and his son, Donald Trump, for refusing to rent apartment units to African Americans. The Trumps denied any wrongdoing but agreed to an out-of-court settlement to avoid having to go to trial.
  • The Southern Poverty Law Center says that in 2018 it was tracking a total of 1,020 hate groups. New Mexico is the only state to have no such organizations, while California has the most with 83.


  • “William L. Pierce, 68; Ex-Rocket Scientist Became White Supremacist.” Jeffrey Gettleman, Los Angeles Times, July 24, 2002.
  • “The Turner Diaries.” Anti-Defamation League, undated.
  • “Alt History.” J.M. Berger, The Atlantic, September 16, 2016.
  • “Oklahoma City Bombing.” FBI, undated.
  • “Where the El Paso Mass Shooting Fits in the Evolution of White Supremacist Tactics.” Scott Stewart, Stratfor, August 2019.
  • “Earl Turner Has an Ally in the White House.” Joel Dyer, Boulder Weekly, August 8, 2019.”
  • “Scholar Kathleen Belew on New Zealand, Donald Trump and the Rise of ‘white power.’ ” Chauncey DeVega, Salon, April 2, 2019.
  • “Hate Map.” Southern Poverty Law Center, 2019.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2019 Rupert Taylor


Ken Burgess from Florida on August 16, 2019:

A very informative article.

Its a bit of a stretch trying to turn the Turner Diaries into Trump's Manifesto, but I have to give you an A for the effort.

Dean Traylor from Southern California/Spokane, Washington (long story) on August 15, 2019:

Very informative piece about a troubling book. This may sound off topic, but one thing I've noticed about people like Pierce is that they may have a strong educational background, but their writing is horrible. It's as if they traded in their intellect and skills when they started spewing hate.

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