Archive for White Nationalism/White Supremacy

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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Bronze Age Greeks Inspire Violent White Masculinity

Bronze Age Mindset is a book published in 2018 by someone using the pseudonym “Bronze Age Pervert” (abbreviated BAP in this article). Written in the ironic style characteristic of what used to be called the “alt right” but which is more properly recognized as the evolution of white supremacy, this self-described “exhortation” decries modernity as “the most debased of ages” (113). For inspiration about how to survive in “our trash world” (164) it looks to mythological and historical figures from Greek antiquity that provide models for how to defy and ultimately overthrow “the great and suffocating shadow of our time, that smothers all higher life out” (67). The book, which has attracted the admiration of mainstream politicians, is said to have “lit the online right on fire” because it “understands the fundamental draw of right-wing traditionalist ideology…by providing adherents with a sense of their own ‘specialiness’ in a mythic narrative created for them.” It’s a narrative that depends on a toxic blend of misogyny and white supremacy, with the ancient world as its archetype and source of prestige.

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Sallust and Juvenal Made Prophets of Racial Decline

Tomislav Sunić sits on the board of directors of the white nationalist American Freedom Party and is a prolific writer and frequent lecturer at white supremacist conferences. In a transcript of one such speech published on The Occidental Observer, Sunić argues that “in view of the large-scale racial replacement of European peoples by the masses of non-European peoples, the old European world seems to be now preordained not to a transient decadence, but rather to a terminal decadence.” His analysis uses ancient Rome, which he calls the first of the “series of decadences [Europe] has encountered over its history,” as an explanatory model for the causes and effects of this supposed decline. The example of Rome, he claims, shows that “once a nation’s heritage, including its heredity, is forgotten or compromised, society begins to fall apart as was observed in Rome and as we can see every day in Europe now.”

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Racist Commemoration of Greco-Roman History as White History

“Today in White History” is a Twitter account that commemorates technological, scientific, athletic, and artistic accomplishments of people that the account’s curator regards as “white,” occasionally adding racist commentary or a  “White Live Matter” hashtag to its descriptions. The account intends to provide daily evidence for one of the fundamental beliefs of white supremacy, namely that white people have made more significant contributions to human history than other kinds of people. And just as many white supremacists regard the histories of ancient Greece and Rome to be exclusively “white” histories, “Today in White History” not only includes Greco-Roman history in its feed but gives the Classical special prominence by using an image of the Roman orator Cicero as its avatar.

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Monsters from Greek Mythology Inspire White Supremacist Activists

“The Hundred Handers” is a network of white supremacists who post racist stickers in public places. It’s a strategy used by many racist groups, including those who use imagery taken from Greco-Roman antiquity. According to an interview with the network’s anonymous founder on an anti-government website, the goal of the Hundred Handers’ stickers is to reassure the “whole population who aren’t as plugged [into] social media and may feel alone against the tsunami of anti-white hatred that they face daily”  that “you’re not alone and there are others like you in close proximity.” The network takes its name from the many-headed and many-limbed monsters who, according to the Greek poet Hesiod’s Theogony, helped Zeus and the Olympian gods defeat the Titans in the battle for control of the universe.

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Ancient and Modern Pandemics said to “Cull the Herd”

Identity Dixie has been called America’s “preeminent neo-Confederate hate organization.” In addition to their podcast The Rebel Yell, which Pharos has documented for its host’s use of the Classical pseudonym “Musonius Rufus” and which was originally distributed on the same platform as the neo-Nazi podcast The Daily Shoah, the site promotes the work of like-minded racists, misognyists, and xenophobes on its “Dissident Right Radio” page. One such show, the Z Blog Power Hour, has joined other hate groups and conspiracy theorists in commenting on the coronavirus pandemic, calling the measures taken to limit the virus’ spread “The Great Madness” and downplaying the threat it poses. This widespread minimization of the pandemic takes many forms. On Identity Dixie and the Z Blog Power Hour it means comparing COVID-19 to plagues from Greco-Roman antiquity.

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Greek Myth and Apocalyptic European Nationalism 

This month is the fifth anniversary of the launch of Fabien Bièvre-Perrin’s Antiquipop, a website that, like Pharos, documents appropriations of Greco-Roman antiquity in the contemporary world. But whereas the pages of Pharos are filled with regressive interpretations and distortions of the ancient past, Antiquipop celebrates the deployment and reanalysis of that past in contemporary art, film, fashion, and music. On Pharos you will find examples of Greco-Roman antiquity being used to exclude, to erase, to threaten, and to oppress. On Antiquipop you find engagements with antiquity that are intended to appeal to broad audiences, engagements that, by simultaneously invoking and questioning the prestige of the Classical past, promote a sometimes radically inclusive vision of what the Greco-Roman world might mean in the contemporary world. And so, in celebration of the fifth birthday of Antiquipop your friends at Pharos offer this documentation of some Classical references in the work of a prominent member of the French far right, as an illustration of how vital your work is to the project of rejecting the claims that hate groups make on the ancient past.

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Not Just Hitler and Mussolini: Neo-Nazis Love Neoclassical Architecture too

On February 4th, 2020 Architectural Record reported on a leaked draft executive order from the Trump administration entitled “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” that would require that “the classical architectural style shall be the preferred and default style” for future federal buildings. The American Institute of Architects immediately stated their opposition to the order, arguing that “architecture should be designed for the specific communities that it serves, reflecting our rich nation’s diverse places, thought, culture and climates.” They were followed by several other professional associations, including the Society for Classical Studies (attaching themselves to an existing statement from the Society for Architectural Historians) and The Archaeological Institute of America, which in addition to opposing the order noted that the very idea of a uniform “Classical” style of architecture misrepresents the variety of styles used in the Classical period. This condemnation of the totalitarian nature of the order was matched in the press with many articles describing a similar compulsory preference for Classical architecture under the Nazis in Germany or Fascists in Italy. The resonance of this proposed executive order with past white supremacist regimes is indeed disturbing, but it risks locating hateful admiration for Classical architecture in the past when in fact the nexus between it and racist politics is alive and well, as Pharos‘ survey of mentions of it on some of the major sites we document shows.

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Call for Abstracts: Greco-Roman Antiquity and White Supremacy

Society for Classical Studies Annual Meeting, Jan 7–10, 2021

Curtis Dozier, director of Pharos: Doing Justice to the Classics, invites the submission of abstracts on any aspect of the relationship of Greco-Roman Antiquity and White Supremacy. Selected abstracts will form a proposal for a panel on the topic to be held at the 2021 Society for Classical Studies annual meeting in Chicago, IL (Jan 7–10, 2021). If the SCS Program committee accepts our proposed panel, the Vassar College Department of Greek and Roman Studies will offer panelists who do not have tenured or tenure-track positions a $500 stipend toward the cost of attending the conference. Pharos is also offering a research service for those interested in preparing abstracts but who prefer not to visit White Supremacist websites (on which see below). Read More→

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