Author Archive for cudozier

Athens and Sparta (Pharos Surveys of Appropriations)

This page collects examples of articles on prominent white supremacist websites that invoke the ancient city states of Athens and Sparta in support of hateful politics. In connection with the recommendations and discussion questions on our “How to use Pharos in the Classroom” page, they are intended to spark discussion and further research about the ways that white supremacists use the prestige of Greco-Roman antiquity to legitimize their racist views, and about the historical and ongoing complicity in white supremacy of the discipline of Classics discipline of Classics in providing the basis for these beliefs through the promotion of an idealized and/or sanitized version of that past. We have provided links to PDFs of the articles extracted from the sites on which they appeared. Links to archived versions of these articles are available to instructors upon request at pharsoclassics@vassar.edu.

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Misogyny and Gender (Pharos Surveys of Appropriations)

This page collects examples of articles that illustrate how modern white supremacists and misogynists use Greco-Roman antiquity to justify their gender politics. In connection with the recommendations and discussion questions on our “How to use Pharos in the Classroom” page, they are intended to spark discussion and further research about the ways that ancient history is used to legitimize hateful beliefs, and about the historical and ongoing complicity of the discipline of Classics in providing the basis for these beliefs through the promotion of an idealized and/or sanitized version of that past. We have provided links to PDFs of the articles extracted from the sites on which they appeared. Links to archived versions of these articles are available to instructors upon request at pharsoclassics@vassar.edu.

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How to Use Pharos in the Classroom

It is essential that students of Greco-Roman Antiquity understand that Classics has deep connections with white supremacy if we are to avoid reproducing and strengthening this connection in our classrooms. Pharos’ documentations of contemporary white supremacist appropriations of ancient history, including our thematically organized curated collections, are one tool instructors can use to help students begin to recognize this connection and reflect on how they can disrupt it.

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Announcing Resources for Teachers on Pharos

by Curtis Dozier, Director of Pharos

The murder of George Floyd on May 25th, 2020 brought national attention to the Movement for Black Lives and its demand for justice for Black people in the United States. However, as most people of color already knew, Floyd’s murder was no isolated incident: 164 Black people were killed by police in the United States in the first eight months of 2020 alone. And police brutality without accountability is only one example of our white supremacist social order, which also perpetuates, for example, racial disparities in wealth and life-expectancy.

In a society so riven with anti-Black policies and structures, everyone has an obligation to resist. This obligation extends to our work as teachers of Classics. Writing in reaction to Floyd’s murder, Pria Jackson wrote in Eidolon that “White Classicists MUST resist and do the work. Every. Single. Day. To unlearn white supremacy in themselves, to unwrite the white supremacist narratives they discover, and to unteach the white supremacist ideologies they will invariably discover in students who approach Classics as a white history.” Her essay is a must-read for its articulation of the complicity of Classics and white supremacy, for its insistence on the fact that “white supremacy is already in your classroom,” and its diagnosis of the refusal of many white Classicists to acknowledge both. Read More→

Virgil’s Aeneid Gives Hope to Totalitarians after Failed Capitol Attack

Following the domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, white supremacist websites were awash with conspiracy theories, praise for the rioters, and false equivalencies between their violent insurrection and the summer’s Black Lives Matter demonstrations. One contributor to the white supremacist site Counter Currents, however, expressed his disillusionment with President Trump, calling it “unforgivable and inexcusable for him to condemn and abandon the supporters that answered his call and attended this rally.” It is hard to tell how widespread this disillusionment is among white supremacists with a president who did more than any other recent elected official to advance their agenda, but this author suggests that after being “betrayed by Trump,” “it is time for white Americans to form a new identity and a new mythos.” What follows is a call for totalitarianism wrapped in the veneer of Classical prestige. “In many ways,” the author writes, “the Roman poet Virgil did these things for the Roman Empire and the Roman people.”

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Capitol Terrorists Take Inspiration from Ancient World

On January 6, 2021 a group of domestic terrorists, encouraged by the outgoing President of the United States, attacked the U.S. Capitol Building. Capitol security offering so little resistance to white rioters attempting to enter a government building made for a striking contrast to a year of police attacking Black Lives Matter demonstrations, 93% of which involved no violence at all. The white supremacy that motivated the attackers soon became clear as well. Although most of the people and groups Pharos has documented work primarily online, the attack on the Capitol saw violent terrorists in the seat of our nation’s government displaying familiar Classical symbols. This post will attempt to collect examples of these. Many of these have already been noted and discussed in a wide-ranging essay by Spencer Alexander McDaniel on many of the symbols seen at the Capital attack (not just Classical ones). If you are aware of any examples not included here please send them to pharosclassics@vassar.edu or contact us on Twitter.

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The Third Year of Pharos

by Curtis Dozier, Director of Pharos

2020 has been a year in which the increasing visibility and influence of overtly white supremacist groups in the United States continued, including those whose use of Greco-Roman antiquity Pharos documents. But it was also the year that a police officer murdered George Floyd (and many other Black people) and that the Coronavirus Pandemic took a disproportionate toll on communities of color. As the insidious and deadly operation of racism and structural inequality at the heart of mainstream American institutions and social practices received widespread attention from white people who are ordinarily sheltered from it, I wasn’t always sure whether Pharos met a need. When police officers can kill Black people with impunity, when our nation’s economy and public health system treats Black and Brown lives as disposable, the latest essay about Juvenal on an avowedly white supremacist website did not always seem worthy of attention. Our country has a huge problem with overt racism, but we have an even bigger problem with the racism embedded to the point of invisibility — if you’re white — in every aspect of our society.

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Election Defeat Prompts Comparisons to Roman Emperors by White Supremacists

Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election has predictably prompted a wave of conspiracy theories among his supporters about the result, many of which the President himself has promoted, most recently saying that “it’s going to be a very hard thing to concede because we know there was massive fraud.” White supremacist websites, already hotbeds for such theories are no exception, have joined in searching for any explanation for Trump’s loss other than the real one, that the President didn’t get enough votes. What may be less predictable is that one of the white supremacist sites that Pharos documents has turned to analogies to Roman Emperors to explain why their favored candidate lost.

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When History Meets Race Pseudo-Science

“Human Biodiversity” is a euphemism that racists use to lend respectability to their pseudo-scientific claim that white superiority has a genetic or evolutionary basis. Many white supremacist ideas derive from this claim: if white superiority is “natural” and immutable, the argument goes, there is no point in attempting to help non-white people whose inferiority is similarly “natural.” Racist science also suggests that it is impossible for white people to live in harmony with non-white people, that society should (continue to) be organized to give white people more power than other people, and that any demographic change that reduces the percentage of white people in a nation can only be detrimental to that nation’s prosperity. The term “Human Biodiversity,” often abbreviated “HBD,” was coined by Jonathan Marks, a prominent critic of racist science, but quickly became popular with the same racists whose ideas Marks intended to reject. Many of the leading “researchers” in HBD receive funding from white supremacist organizations like The Pioneer Fund and publish their findings in white supremacist journals like Mankind Quarterly, which there is a decent chance your university library subscribes to. HBD embodies the evolution of racist pseudo-science from the measurement of visible features like skulls or noses to the study of genetics as a way of inventing racial differences between human beings. As such it may seem like an area of white supremacy where we would be unlikely to find Greco-Roman Antiquity being invoked. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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The Proud Boys and Greco-Roman Masculinity

During the first debate of the 2020 U.S. Presidential campaign, President Trump was asked to condemn white supremacy. Instead he said “Proud Boys, Stand Back and Stand By…somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.” Trump’s expression of support for a white supremacist and anti-Semitic organization that promotes and engages in violence is just the latest evidence of the white supremacy in the Trump administration. A former neo-Nazi recognized this as “clear encouragment for continued violence,” coming from an administration that has attempted to downplay the threat of white supremacy in America. It is to be hoped that such a high-profile shout-out to a racist organization will call (further) attention to these facts and to the true nature of The Proud Boys, whose founder claims the group’s focus is not race but “Western Values.” And indeed, the group’s website describes them as “Western Chauvinists” who “refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.” The Proud Boys are thus yet another organization that attempts to conceal its racism behind arguments about the supposed superiority of “Western Civilization.” And wherever such claims are made, Greco-Roman antiquity usually comes up as well. The articles in “Proud Boy Magazine” are no exception.

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