Political party using antiquity to “Make Spain Great Again”

VOX is an anti-immigrant, Islamaphobic, homophobic, and misogynist political party in Spain that in 2019 won enough votes to elect twenty-four legislators to Spain’s Congress of Deputies. In a body of 350 seats this is not enough to enact a legislative agenda but they now have a voice and legitimacy that they had previously lacked. Like many far-right parties VOX’s rhetoric depends on a nostalgia for a supposedly more peaceful, more prosperous (and actually less equitable) past. Although VOX finds its inspiration primarily in Spain’s more recent, fascist, past, it also invokes the Greco-Roman world to legitimize its politics.

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Cato the Elder Endorsing Misogyny in Online Forums

Cato the Elder was a Roman senator who is usually remembered as the preeminent advocate for traditional values in ancient Rome. He is best known for ending many of his speeches in the senate by saying “Furthermore, Carthage must be destroyed,” even if he had been speaking on a different topic, as a way of pressing for further military action against Carthage following that city’s defeat in the Second Punic War. Several other sayings attributed to Cato have survived, two of which are favorites in online misogynist communities such as those that Donna Zuckerberg has described in her book Not All Dead White Men: Classics and Misogyny in the Digital Age. One quoted in Plutarch’s Life of Cato criticizes Romans for their supposed subservience to women: “All mankind rules its women, and we rule all mankind, but our women rule us.” In another, quoted from Livy’s history of Rome, Cato calls woman “a violent and uncontrolled animal.”

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Classical Shirts Mask Hate with Humor

“Culture Wars” is a store on the custom apparel website TeePublic.com that advertises itself as “designs in support of European culture and civilization.” Like another online apparel store that Pharos has documented, “Culture Wars” offers many shirts with classical images and themes that promote both coded and explicit racism, homophobia, and misogyny. But whereas the previously documented site promoted a violent and hyper-masculine vision of the classical past, “Culture Wars” takes the approach of attempting to mask much of its hatred with humor.

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Nixon Claims Homosexuality Destroyed Greece, Rome … and America?

Richard Nixon, the 37th president of the United States (1969 – 74), is primarily remembered for the Watergate scandal. During the congressional investigation that led to Nixon’s resignation, more than 3,000 hours of recorded conversations between Nixon and his advisors came to light. Within the small percentage of these recordings that have been studied, the President invokes Greco-Roman antiquity twice in support of the homophobic claim that “homosexuality destroyed” both Greece and Rome. What may seem at first a laughably ignorant view of ancient history looks different when one realizes that these tapes show one of the most powerful men of his time echoing the views of white supremacists.

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Ancient Roman Quotes on Notorious Nazi Website

The Daily Stormer has been described as “the leading hate site on the Internet” and “probably the world’s most notorious Nazi website.” Its founder, Andrew Anglin, has been described as “a prolific Internet troll and serial harasser” and has been documented previously by Pharos for an anti-Semitic complaint about “the utter decay” of “the traditions that began with Homer and Hesiod, Socrates and Plato.” Anglin wrote in the Daily Stormer’s style guide” for contributors that “the tone of the site should be light” so that “the unindoctrinated” can’t “tell if we are joking or not” while admitting that “this is obviously a ploy and I actually do want to gas kikes.” The site is best-known for its unabashedly racist and anti-Semitic coverage of current events, with recent articles such as “Virginia: Groid faces murder charges after shooting his coalburner in a stolen car” and “Jews aggressively shilling propaganda to justify an American invasion of Venezuela” but it also features historical content, including an article entitled “The Roman Empire’s Jewish Problem.”

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Classical Antiquity and the fear of “White Extinction”

As has been widely reported, the alleged shooter in the Christchurch massacre in New Zealand subscribed to a racist conspiracy theory that national and world governments are trying to eliminate white people by encouraging immigration of non-white people, intermarriage between white people and non-white people, abortion, and, in the more paranoid versions of the theory, violence against white people. This theory fuels racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia and can inspire violence like that seen in Christchurch: the shooter killed fifty Muslim worshippers and injured fifty more. He titled his manifesto “The Great Replacement” after a version of this theory articulated in France; in the U.S. this theory has often been known as “white genocide” or “white extinction.” The Christchurch shooting brought this theory widespread attention but it has a long history among hate groups and, more recently, in more mainstream circles. And as with other hateful ideologies, Greco-Roman antiquity is frequently invoked in support of it, by giving legitimacy to the idea that white people are somehow endangered.

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Greco-Roman Antiquity in the Pseudo-Academic Journal of White Supremacy

The Occidental Quarterly is a white supremacist publication designed to look and feel like a peer-reviewed journal in order to give itself credibility as a platform for racists and anti-Semites. Its articles are available only to paid subscribers (except for those also published on its sister platform, The Occidental Observer, which Pharos has also documented) but the titles of articles published in the journal make clear both its hateful politics and the assumption of many of its contributors that Greco-Roman antiquity can be used to authorize those politics.

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White Supremacist takes Inspiration from Ancient Eugenics

Guillaume Durocher has contributed articles that invoke classical antiquity to several white supremacist sites that Pharos has documented, including American Renaissance and Counter-CurrentsHe has also written more than one hundred pieces for The Occidental Observer, a site focused on “themes of white identity, white interests, and the culture of the West.” One of these, entitled “Biopolitics, Racialism, and Nationalism in Ancient Greece: A Summary View”, argues that we should imitate ancient eugenic practices so that “our race and civilization may forever flourish” and “Civil War II” may be avoided in the United States. Like many historically-minded racists who enlist the classical past in support of their politics, Durocher cloaks this hateful message beneath a superficially attractive but ultimately uncritical message that we should be “inspired by the Hellenic experience.”

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An Anti-Semitic interpretation of the Saturnalia

Radix Journal is a website founded by Richard Spencer, editor of Altright.com and president of the white supremacist think tank “National Policy Institute,” both of which Pharos has documented. In January 2019 Radix Journal published an article about the Saturnalia, an ancient Roman festival that is popularly but probably erroneously believed to be the origin of Christmas. The article, entitled “Christmas, the Saturnalia and the Jewish Saturn”, makes the anti-Semitic argument that the Roman festival, and Christmas itself, commemorates a pre-historic time when “Jews or proto-Jews ruled” before “the restoration of an Aryan hegemony.”

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Update to the Onomasticon of Classical Pseudonyms and Avatars

Last fall we launched the “Onomasticon of Classical Pseudonyms and Avatars” to collect examples of people using classically-themed pen-names and images in support of hatred. This week we’ve added four more examples to our database:

  • A misogynist whose work we’ve documented before but whose choice of name — “Atlas” — we hadn’t commented on
  • A xenophobe masquerading as a stoic philosopher by using the name “Marcus Aurelius”
  • A contributor to a white supremacist website who uses the name “Titus Quintus,” which might either be a garbled version of a famous Roman general or might only be two Roman praenomina thrown together
  • A racist YouTube channel with an illegible Latin name: Verbo Tempestas

Our full discussion of each can be found in the Onomasticon itself along with the other examples we’ve documented so far.

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