Racist Intimidation invokes Socrates and “Classical Education”

In September 2019, several faculty and administrators at Wake Forest University received racist and homophobic emails that, according to recipients, called for “our land to be ‘purged’ of people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community.” More recently it has emerged that the hateful and intimidating rhetoric of these emails used references to Greco-Roman Antiquity to define the curriculum that the racists believe should be “restored.”

Read More→

SCS Roundtable: White Supremacy and the Past and Future of Classics

Update: Pharos has published a report summarizing the conversation at the roundtable described below.

Original Announcement: At this year’s Society for Classical Studies Annual Meeting in Washington D.C., Pharos Director Curtis Dozier will moderate a roundtable discussion entitled “White Supremacy and the History and Future of Classics” from 12:15 to 1:45PM on Saturday, January 3rd in the Marquis Ballroom Salon 1–6. All who are interested in learning more or in sharing their expertise are welcome.

Read More→

Update to the Onomasticon of Classical Pseudonyms and Avatars – December 2019

In the year since we announced our “Onomasticon of Classical Pseudonyms and Avatars,” it has become one of the most visited pages on Pharos. In this update to the database, we’ve added four new pseudonyms from some of the largest hate sites that Pharos has documented:

Our full discussion of each, along with all the other classicizing names and images we’ve documented so far, can be found in the Onomasticon itself.

A Champion for Classics…and Racism

Joseph Sobran was a prominent American journalist and anti-Semite who, according to one obituary, “shared many of the ideas of the European far right from the early 20th century, in particular the belief that Jews are an alien, nearly monolithic and subversive force whose main goal is to destroy Western Civilization.” He came to the attention of Pharos because a meme featuring one of his quotes has been posted several times in a Facebook group for Latin teachers, where it received many “likes” and some approving comments. The quote says: “In 100 years we have gone from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to teaching Remedial English in college.” This nostalgia for an (imagined) time when the study of Classics enjoyed a central and respected position in American education may be superficially attractive to those of us devoted to that study. But Sobran’s hateful political views should make us think twice about our assumptions about the value and purpose of Classical education. We may discover that our self-image, and even self-respect, as educators rests on implicit arguments dear to those with abhorrent political views.

Read More→

The Second Year of Pharos

by Curtis Dozier, Director of Pharos

Two years ago I launched Pharos: Doing Justice to the Classics in order to raise awareness about how hate groups are using Greco-Roman antiquity to legitimize their politics. Within a year it became clear that specialists in the field of Classical Studies and the public at large were interested in learning about these appropriations, and I was honored to be recognized at the beginning of 2019 by the Women’s Classical Caucus, which awarded Pharos the “Public Scholarship” award for work “geared toward non-specialist audiences” that “address[es] feminist concerns or any other concerns related to marginalized groups.” The site continued to receive coverage in the press, including Undark Magazine and The Chronicle of Higher Education. For the first time it was noticed by a major right-wing site, when Campus Reform published the response from a homophobic hate group to our documentation of their invocation of the persecution of Christians in ancient Rome in their fundraising materials. 
Read More→

Fake Aristotle Quote Opposing Human Rights for Immigrants

A xenophobic news aggregator called Western Voices World News reposted an article from the New York Post concerning New York City’s strongest-in-the-nation Human Rights Law. In September 2019 the city explicitly affirmed that the law protects New Yorkers from being harassed because of their accent, for speaking a language other than English, or from being called an “illegal alien” out of hate. Western Voices World News provided only two bits of commentary on the report: the xenophobic heading “Trusting your government and getting conquered by aliens are now one and the same” and a meme showing a bust of Aristotle with a quotation “Tolerance and Apathy are the last virtues of a dying society.” Pharos has documented and responded to hate groups using things Aristotle actually wrote in support of hatred, but Sententiae Antiquae and The Athenian Inspector have both shown that this quote appears nowhere in Aristotle’s work: racists, xenophobes, and nationalists just attach Aristotle’s name to it in order to give intellectual credibility to their hateful politics.

Read More→

Not just Sparta: White Supremacist Admiration of Athens

Thanks especially to the work of Sarah Bond and Myke Cole, the general public is increasingly familiar with white supremacists’ fetishization of Classical Sparta as a supposedly racially pure, hyper-masculine, hyper-militarized model for the totalitarian ethnostate they seek to bring about. Sparta is the ancient touchstone for hate groups that Pharos documents most frequently. What may surprise many people, however, is that Classical Athens, popularly understood to be the ancient world’s beacon of democracy, cultural and intellectual accomplishment, and the polar opposite of Sparta, is promoted by white supremacists as a model for emulation as well. This appropriation of Athens in support of hateful politics poses a different kind of challenge to historians than the appropriation of Sparta does. The Sparta invoked by hate groups has little in common with the way our society is currently structured, but in Athens the hate groups find a model for how our existing political system can serve the white nationalist project.

Read More→

Greco-Roman Antiquity in Camus’ “Great Replacement”

No fewer than three recent mass shooters have said they found inspiration in the French intellectual Renaud Camus’ theory of “the Great Replacement,” a xenophobic and racist claim that “European” or “white” culture is being “replaced” through immigration. Camus outlined this theory in a 2011 book entitled Le Grand Remplacement that he later rewrote and translated into English as You Will Not Replace Us! (2018), a title clearly intended to echo the chant of the white supremacists at the 2017 Charlottesville rallyPharos has reported on how this theory appears, often in connection with references to Greco-Roman antiquity, on various hate sites, and ancient historian Sarah Bond has traced the history of this theory, uncovering a long tradition of such thinking well before Camus published his work. But Greco-Roman antiquity is not just a touchstone for those who subscribe to Camus’ theory: his treatise itself takes its starting point from a reading of an ancient Greek philosophical text and is peppered throughout with references to antiquity in support of his claims.

Read More→

Revilo Oliver: The White Supremacist Within

Since 2017, Pharos has documented many examples of hate groups appropriating ancient Greece and Rome in support of their politics. Our articles may give the impression that it is only outsiders to the discipline of Classics who enlist that history in support of hate. But today we turn to a Classics professor who actively promoted anti-Semitism and became an influential figure to an entire generation of white supremacists in the United States: Revilo Oliver, who spent thirty years as a professor of Classics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and who, besides lending his prestige as a professor of Classics to white nationalist causes, often invoked Classical antiquity to legitimize his views. Oliver died in 1994 but remains a respected figure in anti-Semitic circles and a warning against assuming that white supremacy is only to be found “outside” of the professional field of Classics.
Read More→

A New Roman Empire for White People

Richard Spencer is one of the most prominent white supremacists in the United States, whose various media platforms have published numerous articles that invoke Greco-Roman antiquity in support of racism and anti-Semitism. But Spencer himself has also made ancient Rome a model for his hateful vision: in a speech at the 2013 American Renaissance conference (a group that Pharos has also documented) Spencer described his dream of a “White Ethno-State on the North American continent” that would be, in his words, “a reconstitution of the Roman Empire.”

Read More→

Follow

Follow this blog

Get every new post delivered right to your inbox.

Email address