In 2001, I published a book on the White advocate William Pierce (1933–2002) called The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds. Given the obsessive concern currently for what is deemed the unimpeachable evil of White racism and the modern-day inquisition against White racists tainted with this sin, I think it would be useful to re-visit what Pierce had to say about this topic in the Fame book two decades ago and see what it brings up for you.
* * *
Pierce believes that over the past forty or fifty years [this is 2001, remember] white people have been conditioned to feel guilty about their natural inclinations around race. The media in particular, but also the schools, politicians, and mainstream churches, have waged an all-out campaign to get them to deny their natural—and healthy—impulses.
What are these natural racial impulses or inclinations? In order to get at that, Pierce offers that we must examine the way whites thought and behaved before the conditioning program began.
In times past, most whites accepted the fact that people of a particular race preferred to live and work and play with others like themselves. White people were curious about other races. They would study the lore of the Indians, for example. Indeed, whites found much to admire in other races and cultures—Chinese art for example. Still, they retained a sense of separateness and exclusiveness and pride in their own European heritage, in their own racial characteristics. They didn’t feel it necessary to apologize for teaching the history of their own race to their children, that is to say, European history. They didn’t feel the need to balance things out by giving equal treatment to other races and cultures. They left Japanese and Tibetan history to the scholars in those fields. They certainly didn’t feel a conciliatory obligation to invent a false black history to elevate the self-esteem of blacks or to persuade young whites that blacks were their cultural equals.
Did whites feel their race was superior to other races? In general, yes, they did, says Pierce, which is not to say that they were blind to the fact that other races and cultures could do some things very well, and in some cases were better than whites were at things. But whites valued what they were good at, and so by the standards they set up, they looked very good to themselves. They were confident in their abilities and accomplishments as thinkers and problem solvers and civilization builders. They liked their literature and art best. They valued their way of life—their concept of virtue and morality and their approach to family and work and so on.
Basically, they believed they had a superior culture and superior race. In that sense, they were what today would be called white supremacists. But they were not alone in feeling that way; it is natural for a people to think their ways are the best, that they are the best. The Chinese have historically believed that they are superior to the “foreign devils.” That the Chinese thought that way didn’t bother whites. It didn’t threaten whites’ sense of their worth, their sense of their place in the world.
Pierce argues that an outgrowth of people’s natural feelings of racial identification and favoritism is to segregate themselves from other people, to live among their own in the ways they prefer. That is their normal impulse. That way of living has been typical throughout the history of humankind. It may seem a good idea for people to live mixed up with other peoples, but it doesn’t work as well as we have been told that it does, and it isn’t inherently a superior or a more elevated way to live. Living amid so-called diversity is not the only legitimate, morally acceptable, way to live, and hardly an urgent moral imperative. It is only in recent years that whites have been pressured to think in those terms.
World War II brought big changes in this pattern of thought and conduct, says Pierce. Those who wanted Germany destroyed painted it as a war for democracy and equality. As the narrative went, the Germans believed in a master race while we believed in the equality of the races. This rationale brought increased stress on an equality theme in American life in contrast to an emphasis on the qualitative differences among individuals and groups. The idea of the equality of whites and blacks went along with that theme. From the assumption that blacks were equal to whites, it followed that if blacks were observed to accomplish less or conduct themselves less admirably, something external to them must be causing it. And that cause was identified—white oppression. Whites must have made blacks the way they were.
While white villainy seemed to make sense given the false notion of racial equality, it simply didn’t square with the facts. The vast majority of whites didn’t concern themselves with blacks and wasted no time trying to suppress them. The vast majority of whites didn’t care what blacks did. They simply wanted to go their way and let blacks go theirs. But the facts of the matter aren’t what is important. What is important is to understand that World War II served to heighten the belief that if blacks had any problems at all, they could be laid at the feet of whites.
Pierce sees the civil rights revolution of the 1950s and ‘60s as another important element in the development of the “whites-as-bad-guys” perception that has taken hold. During those years, the media showed us images of inoffensive blacks marching and protesting amid what looked to be white hooligans who were screaming at them, assaulting them, and in some instances killing them. After scores of television clips, news stories, and commentaries that painted this picture, resistance to what the civil rights activists wanted became equated in most people’s minds with KKK types and beefy Southern sheriffs and their German shepherds and water hoses. It is understandable that most white people came to sympathize strongly with the dignified demonstrators and their cause and to be repulsed by their boorish and brutal white attackers and what we were told they represented.
Indeed, there were white working-class people who saw their way of life threatened and acted in an undignified and intemperate and violent way. The media were quick to record it and place it in a context—within a story line—that appealed to what Pierce calls the innate white sense of propriety and fairness. The media transmitted these carefully selected scenes of white resistance to racial integration along with particular interpretations of what was happening over and over and over again. The white people who saw on their television screens and read about what their own people were doing were embarrassed by it and felt guilty over it. The media made the whole idea of resistance to racial integration shame- and guilt-inducing to most white people.
The media paired up names, labels, for what whites were seeing and hearing and reading and feeling during the civil rights revolution: racism, and racist. The media associated racism with white resistance to the civil rights organizations. Again and again and again, they paired up white resistance to a single idea/explanation—racism. Again and again and again, the media paired the image of the roughneck white opponent of civil rights being portrayed on the screen or in print with the label/identity of racist.
After a time, the words themselves—“racism,” “racist”—came to evoke pangs of revulsion and guilt on their own, just as the sound of a dinner bell resulted in Pavlov’s dogs salivating. The media had created a conditioned response to the word racism. Now, all anybody has to do to get whites to turn pale, become apologetic, and give in is call them racist. People don’t have to argue the facts with whites; all they have to do is push the right emotional button. If they ring the “racist bell,” whites—even the most rugged and proudest of whites—will bow their heads and put their tails between their legs and let people have their way with them.
The media could have worked the conditioning the opposite way if they had wanted to by associating different things with white resistance to the civil rights movement. They could have presented interviews with middle-class whites—professional people, academics, artists and writers, philosophers—who believed in racial and cultural integrity and pointed out the negative impact on countries like Puerto Rico, Brazil, and Portugal when the races were mixed together. The media could have shown what happened to white schools and neighborhoods after an infusion of blacks—the decay and disorder and crime. They could have interviewed white women raped by blacks. They could have presented case studies of white girls who mated with black boys they met in school and shown us their mixed-race children and let us see how we really felt about that. But they didn’t do that. That wasn’t consistent with the program.
During this time and since, Pierce points out, the schools joined the campaign of re-shaping white attitudes. The curriculum kept students from understanding the rationale for segregation. Segregation was linked to mindless hatred and oppression. History was de-Europeanized and infused with the real and imaginary accomplishments of non-whites. The churches also got into the act of decrying racism and promoting a multiracial society. White politicians pandered to minority interests and lectured their own people about how they must share their lives with minorities and to give them anything they wanted. The schools, churches, and politicians promoted the idea that anyone opposed to an integrated society was evil and irrational, that is to say, a racist. The only thing that operated against this wave of cultural re-shaping of whites, says Pierce, is the actual physical presence of blacks so that people could experience for themselves the glaring contradictions between the theory of racial equality and the reality of racial differences.
Pierce notes that race has become such a hot-button issue that it is very difficult to discuss it rationally at the present time. He says talking about race today must be how it was for Presbyterians to talk about sex a century ago. He says he gets letters and messages from white people who say he ought to be killed for advocating separation of the races and opposing miscegenation.
As difficult as it is to do, however, whites must think and talk about race rationally and honestly. They must not be embarrassed about it and feel guilty about it. They must be willing to entertain the idea that wanting to live and work among their own people is a natural, healthy feeling they were born with. Nature gave whites that impulse so that they could evolve as a race. Living among their own allows them to develop special characteristics and abilities that set them apart from every other race. Living with their own is essential to their survival as a race. What is irrational and destructive is the very thing that is being pushed upon them—a multiracial, culturally conglomerate society and way of life.
It is going to take determination for whites to open up their eyes and their minds to reality, and more courage than they have shown in the past to begin to report to the world what they truly believe. But that is what whites must do. Whites are being controlled by their fear of being smeared as racists if they disagree with the orthodoxy about race in this country.
In a Free Speech [a periodical Pierce published] article entitled “The Importance of Courage,” Pierce relates how he has dealt with his own fears around being called a racist.
I’m sorry to say that I’ve seen that same sort of timidity in myself. When interviewers have asked me whether or not I am a racist, I have responded by asking, “Well, what do you mean by the word ‘racist’?” I’ve tried to wriggle out of giving a direct answer to the question. I have resolved not to try to wriggle away from saying exactly what I believe when someone asks me whether or not I am a racist because it’s pretty clear what the interviewers have in mind when they ask me whether or not I am a racist. These days anyone is a racist who refuses to deny the abundantly clear evidence that there are inherited differences in behavior, intelligence, and attitudes. A racist is any white person who prefers to live among other whites instead of among non-whites and prefers to send his children to white schools. A racist is any white person who feels a sense of identity with, a sense of belonging to, his own tribe, his own people, his own race, and who shows an interest in his race’s history, heroes, culture, and folkways. A racist is a white person who finds the members of his own race more attractive physically than members of other races and who is instinctively repulsed by the idea of racial intermarriage or by the sight of a white person intimately involved with a non-white. A racist is a white person who is disgusted with the multiracial cesspool that America is becoming. . . . Yes, I’m a racist.
* * *
William Pierce, 2001. A brief footnote from me, 2021:
Individuals and groups use exaggerated, distorted, and false negative depictions and stories—White racism is a great example–to get attention, power, self-validation, and advantage, and hurt and destroy people.
My response these days to “You’re a racist” and “Are you a racist?” is “That’s your business, not mine. But I’ll say this. I’m not taking any more of your shit.”