In addition to attempts to shroud its crypto-fascist rape culture with a condescending (pseudo-)“feminist” veneer, another major touchstone of The Satanic Temple’s claims to represent a “progressive” or “left-leaning” tendency within modern Satanism is constituted by the group’s efforts to attach itself to LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, etc.) causes. This can be seen, for example, in the fact that in recent years, contingents of TST members have made appearances in Pride marches (TST AZ, Satanic Temple Seattle). TST’s supporters often cite their support for “LGBTQ+ rights” as a way of derailing conscientization of their underlying ties to white supremacism and neo-fascism.
We see an example of this in Satanic Temple co-founder Douglas Misicko’s essay “Down the Spiral of Purity,” written in response to the secession of the Los Angeles chapter of TST in an act of protest against his decision to associate TST with Marc Randazza, a lawyer who habitually defends right wing extremists in court and has been involved in the case Sines et al v. Kessler et al, whose defendants include members of the neo-Nazi terrorist groups that orchestrated the violent attacks on anti-racists during the infamous August 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. In the essay, Misicko dismisses the assertion of “Jex Blackmore,” a former leading member of TST turned critic who cited a lack of diversity within TST as a reason for leaving the group, by countering with the claim that “it’s certainly likely that over half of leadership and membership [of TST] are in the LGBTQ+ community[.]”
This is the same line of reasoning employed by retired US military intelligence officer and “Setian” Satanist Michael Aquino to defend his Satanic cult, the Temple of Set, from allegations of neo-Nazism extending from his fawning over Mein Kampf and pilgrimage to Wewelsburg Castle (a site strongly associated with Nazi occultism) by “pointing out that several members of the Temple of Set were of Jewish origin” (Introvigne, Satanism 351). As we saw in 6.1.1 and 6.3.3, this duplicitous claim, from the Satanist point of view, only strengthens the neo-Nazi character of the Temple of Set, since the “orthodox” Satanic opinion is that Adolf Hitler and other leaders of Nazi Germany were of Jewish origin (LaVey, Satan Speaks! 22–23). Therefore, according to the logic of Satanism, neo-Nazism in its truest form would, correspondingly, also have to be led by persons of Jewish origin.
We must anticipate that a similar line of reasoning would be applicable in the LGBTQ+ domain, but this time with a slight basis in reality. That is to say, since it is known that homosexuality was tolerated for a time within the Nazi Party, with a section of the Nazi movement’s leadership having been all but openly gay, it would be logical to posit that neo-Nazi movements would similarly include members of “the LGBTQ+ community.” In particular, Ernst Röhm (1887–1934), who led the paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party (i.e., the Sturmabteilung [SA] or “Storm Attachment,” also known as the “Brownshirts”) from 1931 to 1934, is noted as having been “the highest-ranking gay Nazi” (Wills). Another high-ranking Nazi known to have been gay was Edmund Heines (1897–1934), who Hitler appointed “to deal with ‘all matters relating to the youth movement’” (i.e., the Hitler Youth) in 1925 (Simkin, “Edmund Heines”). And in Berlin, the local “supreme leader” of the Brownshirts, Karl Ernst (1904–1934), had formerly worked at a nightclub “advertised [during the] interwar [period as a] destination for transvestites and transsexuals” (Simkin, “Karl Ernst”; Hopper). Although the aforementioned individuals were purged from the Nazi Party during the “Night of the Long Knives” in 1934, crossdressing nevertheless remained a popular pastime among members of Nazi Germany’s Wehrmacht (which existed from 1935 to 1945). (Note that while—in my opinion—crossdressing does not necessarily imply being gay, not all sincere LGBTQ+ rights advocates agree, and the two have often been perceived as closely correlating; for example, according to the renowned transgender rights activist Sylvia Rivera [1951–2002], “Transvestites are homosexual men and women who dress in clothes of the opposite sex” [Sandeed]). And although crossdressing was not unheard of among members of other nations’ militaries, it is said to have “happen[ed] way more in [Nazi] ranks”(Hopper). Similarly, the historian Lothar Machtan argues in The Hidden Hitler (2001)that the leader of Nazi Germany was a closeted homosexual. Though subject to dispute, this thesis is certainly more plausible than LaVey’s (which says that Hitler was a closeted Jew).
Even if it were possible to falsify Machtan’s thesis by proving with absolute certainty that Adolf Hitler was definitely 100% heterosexual, we should not forget that occultism is defined precisely by the embrace of “rejected knowledge,” irrationalism, and notions of “subjectivity” and “acausality” (Webb). The mythos of the “Pink Swastika,” though bordering on homophobia itself when used to say or imply that “gays caused the Holocaust” or “male homosexuality inevitably leads to atrocities and mass murder,” can be (and has been) picked up and championed by gay reactionaries and neo-Nazis looking to “innovate” their image. This is just another form of “pinkwashing,” a term referring “to the promotion of LGBT rights […] in order to mask other human rights oppressions” (Browne).
A striking example of this kind of neo-Nazi pinkwashing can be seen in the logo and “merch” of the band Death in June, which (as shown in sub-section 3.1) exists in the social orbit of The Satanic Temple, since Boyd Rice (a member of Death in June “for nearly two decades” who described the band as “very racialist-oriented”) collaborated with TST frontman Douglas Misicko to produce Satan Superstar, a book published in 2018 (Merlan, “Trolling Hell”; “Boyd Rice on Racist TV Show”).
Figure 7.10. These patches produced by the Satanic Temple-linked band Death in June, whose frontman Douglas Pearce is gay, feature Nazi symbols including the death’s head (or totenkopf) and the “black sun,” combined with the rainbow gay pride flag (DEATH IN JUNE Official Site). The band’s name (Death in June) refers to the Night of the Long Knives (which took place in late June 1934), when Ernst Röhm and other members of the Nazi Party’s “Brownshirt” paramilitary organization who were attracted to members of the same sex were executed. Pearce has explicitly acknowledged leading members of the Nazi Party “like Gregor Strasser and Ernst Röhm” as inspiring Death in June’s “political view for the future,” (Hatewatch Staff).
The pinkwashing of neo-fascism under the guise of Satanism is intimately tied up with the kind of eroticization of Nazism which was put on display at the “Black Mass” held by The Satanic Temple in Los Angeles in 2017, “billed as the largest Satanic gathering in history” (Wikipedia editors, “The Satanic Temple”; 6.3.3). Susan Sontag, a culture critic who was herself bisexual, observed in 1974 that “it is among male homosexuals that the eroticizing of Nazism [and the attachment of sadomasochism to Nazi symbolism] is most visible” and asked, “How could a regime which persecuted homosexuals become a gay turn-on?” The answer to this question would appear to lie in what film critics Joan Picart and David A. Frank discuss as “the triumph of fantasy in the face of increasing commercialization of the Holocaust” in relation to Apt Pupil, a horror film from 1998 dealing with themes of homophobia and homoeroticism in which a teenage American boy develops a bizarre and inappropriate relationship with his elderly neighbor after discovering that the latter is a fugitive Nazi war criminal. It would seem that as the erotic desire to fulfill the fantasy of the ultimate sexual experience of the sadomasochistic type came to be translated into a market demand that could be met with “sexy” commodities evocative of the Nazi regime, a process of alienation took place vis-à-vis historical memory.
It certainly seems “weird” that “a regime which persecuted homosexuals [could] become a gay turn-on.” But was this “destined” to be? Although they differ in etymology, the words “weird” and “queer” phonetically resemble each other closely and can have the same meaning. This is interesting because the concept of “Wyrd,” an Old English word meaning destiny or fate and the source of the modern English word “weird,” is a regular trope in the discourse of both the Temple of Set and the Order of Nine Angles, ideological cousins of The Satanic Temple. Etymologically, wyrd is believed to come from the Proto-Indo-European root *wer-, meaning “to bend” (i.e., to make not straight). Although we can say in retrospect that the weird appearance of the idea of “queer” or “gay Nazism,” both as fantasy and as reality, was determined (and therefore “destined” in a way) by certain definite causes, we might also predict that the “Pink Swastika” is likely to be destined to disappear with critical conscientization of how the Nazi linking of homophobia and homoeroticism comes fundamentally from a place of alienation, which most will subsequently desire to overcome. The Nazi homophobia-homoeroticism complex evinces alienation in at least two senses. If evidence of a link between “homophobia [and] individuals with an unacknowledged attraction to the same sex” (alienation from oneself) is not sufficient to form a unique “explanation for [all] homophobia,” then it would be a question of alienation from historical memory for those who acknowledge their same-sex attraction but nevertheless indulge in the fantasy of projecting their sexuality through the prism of Nazism (Bronski et al.).
We can observe that Misicko’s application of the “But We Are Inclusive” trope appears to be executed with a noticeably higher level of sloppiness than Aquino’s however, due to the impoverishment of his argument in terms of intersectionality theory. In “Down the Spiral of Purity,” Misicko demonstrates some awareness of the fact that having TST members who “are in the LGBTQ+ community” means nothing in terms of disproving the fact of the group’s lack of diversity in terms of “race,” noting that “[i]t is true that People of Color have been slow to embrace Satanism.” This certainly comes as no surprise, since, as we saw in 4.1.1, there is a particularly strong disdain within Satanist circles for African-American Christians, with numerous individuals leaving hateful comments on a Youtube video titled “Crazy Black Christians Protest Baphomet Statue,” from the time in 2015 when all-white mobs of Satanic Temple supporters invaded the Black-majority city of Detroit for a Satanist party where a banner displaying a neo-fascist symbol used by the “anti-anti-racist” band Crass (based on the Nazi “broken sun cross” symbol) was hung from the stage.
In “Queer Fascism: Why White Nationalists Are Trying to Drop Homophobia,” an anonymous antifascist author points out that the effort by segments of the neo-Nazi movement, including the so-called “Alt-Right,” to combine “queer identity with open fascism” and make neo-fascism appealing to gay men in particular “may seem bizarre to those who understand white nationalism [as] just existing on the far right of a left-right spectrum, where homophobia seems like it would come before the open racialism,” (AntifascistFront). It is this overly diagrammatic, vulgarized view of political opinions as existing along a fixed “spectrum” which crypto-fascists exploit to conceal their genuine political position. If a person operates with this superficial understanding of politics in mind, they are likely to be easily duped into discounting allegations of crypto-fascism against The Satanic Temple, uttering, “But they can’t be neo-fascist; they support gay rights!” as a kind of knee jerk response. Likely they also place so-called “conspiracist ideation” on the far-right end of the political spectrum. People of this sort should be reminded that there is nothing “new” or “innovative” to this deceptive cherry-picking of a few “left-wing” positions, because Nazism, with its “sinister runic humbug” and false pretensions of being the real “socialism,” has been synonymous with crypto-fascism from its inception. What needs to be done in order to fight the type of fascism which is of concern here then is to raise awareness of this fact and foster conscientization of the development of modern Satanism in terms of its material role in the re-encryption of fascism post-WWII, gone into hyperdrive under the guise of “The Satanic Temple” since 2013. When didactic diagrams of the political “spectrum” block critical thinking by reifying ideology, they become a hindrance to the conscientization of theology.
Those who obstinately hold on to the notion of a “left-wing Satanism” in the face of the mountain of evidence falsifying the plausibility of such a thing’s material existence constituted by the research compiled for this work, such as the members of the former Los Angeles chapter of The Satanic Temple who broke away to form their own micro-sect (“The Satanic Collective”) in response to TST and Misicko’s relationship with Randazza, remain mired in the same ideological idealism that allows neo-fascism to memetically spread itself through encryption as “modern Satanism” in the first place. The idea of a “left-wing Satanism” is as absurd as that of a “left-wing Nazism.” Incidentally, this is exactly how many neo-fascists attempt to make open Nazism viable again, by “profess[ing] to see themselves more in the tradition of the Nazi Party’s Strasserite ‘left’ than as Hitlerites” (Young, my scare quotes). (Note that Strasserism is a brand of Nazism associated with Gregor [1892–1934] and Otto Strasser [1897–1974], two brothers who jockeyed with Hitler for power and influence within the Nazi Party). Just as the idea of a “Nazi Left” depends on not only the removal of the Nazi Party from a wider historical context outside itself and any semblance of an understanding of the material results of Nazism, but also on the idealistic conceptualization of a “circular” or “horseshoe”-shaped political spectrum where anti-capitalism seems like it would come before antisemitism, so does the idea of a “Satanic Left” depend on ignorance of modern Satanism’s post-WWII development under the steady influence of the far-right and Western “intelligence community” projects and operations (themselves rooted in Nazi research and interest in the occult), as well as on an aestheticized political arena in which one cannot move to confront Christofascism without passing through a Satanic anticlericalism. Those who have split with TST over its ties to the “Alt-Right” but nevertheless attempt to protect their egos by clinging to Satanism and claiming to independently carry on the “true” Satanic “Reformation” are the Strasser brothers of modern Satanism. By sowing more illusion in the viability of “left-wing Satanism,” they only reinforce crypto-fascism. Indeed, in the conclusion to this Unauthorized Guide we will see that virtually every example of “left-wing Satanism” outside TST which has been cited by apologists for such a concept who nevertheless recognize the “problematic” aspects of TST reveals itself to be a farce.
As a Red-baiter, it only seems natural that Underwager was also a rabid woman-hater. Michael Salter writes in Organised Abuse and the Politics of Disbelief:
“Underwager believed that that ‘hysteria’ about child sexual abuse was being fuelled by ‘radical feminism’ and women’s jealousy of the intimacy between men and boys (Geraci 1993). In one instance, he accused ‘feminists in America’ of waging a campaign of libel against him, following widespread criticism over his claim that ‘[p]aedopihles need to become more positive and make the claim that paedophilia is an acceptable expression of God’s will for love and unity among human beings,’” (251).
Underwager’s McCarthyist vision of a “conspiracy of female professionals strong‐arming children into destroying their families” (Salter 245) through the use of “Red Chinese brainwashing” and “Communist thought reform techniques” approaches that fear of the archetypal “Red nurse” outlined by Klaus Theweleit in Male Fantasies, a work which analyses the writings of members of Weimar Germany’s proto-Nazi paramilitary Freikorps, whose misogyny and, moreover, gynophobia was especially acute when it came to women who were also communists. The engineering of the “Satanic Panic” meme along these lines had everything to do with the perceived threat to patriarchal norms posed by women and their power as an organized group of workers. “[S]ocial workers […] as a predominantly female profession” were perceived as “storm troopers of the nanny state” (Cohen xvi) . The trope of the Red nurse’s morally corrupting influence and the spiritually corrosive effects of the “nanny state” on “the family” (Theweleit posits that the Freikorps men regarded the women who “serviced” the Red Army as prostitutes [or sex workers]) was also revived by Underwager, who maintained that “all forensic interviews with children provoked their sadistic sexual fantasy life, creating ‘psychotic’ and sexualised children who were ‘ruined for life’,” (Duncan 1987; Smith 1992; in Salter 256). Similarly, Underwager also allowed an article to be published in his “journal in 1991 about the ‘dangers’ of informing children about sexual abuse” (Cheit 437). Written by James Krivacska, a man who already had a prior arrest record for sexual abuse and who would later be “convicted by a jury and sentenced to twenty-six years in prison” for the same type of crime, the article argued that “after-the-fact association of ‘trauma’ […] with the pleasant genital […] fondling […] may ultimately interfere with [children’s] later experience of sexual pleasure as an adult,” (Cheit 437; 583).
The rise in popular concern with what goes on in private spaces was seen by the “witch-hunt” narrative’s true believers as a vehicle for “Red nurses” (i.e., social workers, therapists, psychiatrists, and other health care professionals) to enact the Communist Manifesto’s “abolition of the family” by advocating for increased state scrutiny and intervention into the bourgeois family structure. We see the same phenomenon today in advocates of “free-range parenting” and “unschooling,” who exhibit fear of “socialist” community intervention into the affairs of nuclear family units and of “Red” teachers (predominantly women) influencing children through the (unionized) public school system (a favorite theme of paranoid conservatives). Ironically, far from being an assertion of children’s rights, “free-range parenting” is actually a form of social enclosure; it is a re-assertion of the “right” of the patriarchs of the bourgeois nuclear family to shield their “property” (i.e., their children) from community influence. It designates “freedom” from the “corrupting” influence of working women, putting up walls and ramparts around the bourgeois family structure (which favors male control and production of the mass psychology of fascism by allowing “the man” of each household to play the role of a microcosmic Führer) in order to “protect” it from the “threat” of increasingly socialized forms of child care (which liberate and empower women). “Unschooling” is thus a pedagogy of the oppressors because it fends off the feminist social workers and “liberal Marxist” school teachers from intervening in the pedagogical development of the younger generations transitioning to working class adulthood, cementing the hegemony of the socially atomized upper middle class which can economically manage “homeschooling.”
Figure 6.2. Detail from an anti-communist comic produced during the era of the (Second) Red Scare (Reddit). We can observe similarities between the cartoon’s portrayal of the American school system as a potential center of “Communist thought reform” by female teachers and Ralph Underwager’s claims about a “false memory epidemic” involving rumors of child abuse inside Satanic cults being spread by feminist social workers and psychiatrists using “Red Chinese brainwashing” methods to attack the hegemonic, idealized bourgeois model of the family as a predominant and pervasive authoritarian social institution and replace it with the “community of women” and “community of children” under the would-be Liberal or Marxian “nanny state.”
Why Americanism is the incorrect response to fascism
* * *
By Daniel K. Buntovnik, 17 August 2017
A political dog whistle: “a coded message communicated through words or phrases commonly understood by a particular group of people, but not by others” [x].
Donald Trump sent a loud and clear whistle to his doggish packs of fanatical far-right supporters in a speech delivered on August 12th, 2017 regarding the wave of violence set off the day before in Charlottesville, Virginia by a rally which drew a historic number of fascist bigots espousing a jumble of neo-Nazi, neo-Confederate, “alt-right”, and “white nationalist” genocidal and segregationist ideologies. (Given the name which organizers gave to the rally, one of its main raisons d’être, in addition to preventing the removal of monuments to the Pro-Slavery Rebellion, seems to have been to overcome these rather insignificant ideological discrepancies among adherents of right-wing politics in the United States of America). The most notable violent incident occurred when a member of a contingent of left-wing, anti-fascist protesters named Heather Heyer was killed [x] and a number of others injured by a neo-Nazi terrorist using a muscle car to plow into the counter-protesters. The attacker has been identified as James Fields, who was photographed before the attack standing in formation with a right-wing gang calling itself “Vanguard America”, wearing the group’s Donald Trump golfing outfit-inspired uniform, and holding a shield with the group’s emblem, a Celtic cross made of two crossing fasces, thereby combining two well-known symbols of neo-fascism into one [x]. Vanguard America is, in turn, a member group of a larger umbrella organization called “Nationalist Front” (formerly known as “Aryan Nationalist Alliance”) which brings together a variegated panoply of Klan, neo-Nazi, and Christian Identity groups.
Caught in the center of the above photograph is the white supremacist James Fields. Despite a contradictory attempt by the Nationalist Front sub-group Vanguard America to disavow the neo-Nazi terrorist [x], “Commander” Jeff Schoep of the “National Socialist Movement” and founder of the Nationalist Front, issued a statement confirming James Fields’s belonging to the Nationalist Front camp by retweeting a video of the terrorist attack which showed anti-racist activists rushing to the weaponized muscle car which had just been used as a murder weapon in an effort to render it inoperable and thereby prevent further racist, anti-leftist killing. In the retweet, Schoep issued his own statement in which he said “Antifa attacking car [i.e., the terrorist murder weapon] with ball bats. This is what we faced in Cville, armed antifa, & city allowed it,” [x] (my emphasis). In using the phrase “This is what we faced” in this context (a video of Fields “allegedly” running over participants in an anti-racist demonstration in his car), it can be confirmed that the Nationalist Front leader views the murderer as part of his group. In addition to this, the neo-Nazi leader demonstrates an incredible level of hypocrisy in criticizing anti-Nazi counter-demonstrators for being armed with bats, given the well-publicized images of right-wing, paramilitary-style militias armed with assault rifles which were out in force for the “Unite the Right” rally [x].
Despite the fact that the nature of the conflict playing out in Charlottesville was clearly that of supporters of genocidal fascism versus their opponents, Trump adamantly attributed guilt for the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence” to “many sides”, emphasizing the words “many sides” by pausing to repeat them a second time in an insincere fashion [x]. While a number of Democrats and “liberals” criticized Trump for failing to identify the guilty party by saying some words along the lines of “radical white nationalist terror”, many in the Democratic Party actually echoed his dog whistle endorsement of American-style fascism by making appeals to “national unity” and “American values” [x].
By fixating on Trump’s lack of explicit condemnation of the neo-Nazi and Ku Klux groups at the expense of paying the slightest attention to Trump’s exploitation of the Nationalist Front terrorist attack as another opportunity to promote more American nationalism, those whose “opposition” to Trump is superficial set up an easy out for him to redeem himself and atone for his “mistake” by fulfilling their wish and making a short pronouncement in which, after repeating in paraphrase what he had already said two days earlier, he said, “Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans” [x]. Notwithstanding the fact that Trump made and has fulfilled an explicit campaign pledge to continue the Obama era practice of killing people for nothing other than the blood in their veins, i.e. the kindredness of their blood to that of stigmatized individuals [x], here Trump really only condemns the hate groups insofar as they “cause violence” and behave criminally. This is not a condemnation of the KKK, neo-Nazism and white supremacists and their existence as such (i.e. their right to organize and operate in society), but merely empty words against their illegal tactics, which are inevitably attributed to the infamous figure of the “lone wolf” (as if these “lone” wolves were the only “bad apples” amongst the otherwise upstanding members of the neo-Nazi community). Even American liberals such as Glenn Greenwald continue to defend neo-Nazis and neo-Confederates, so long as they don’t “cause violence” and employ legal methods of struggle, despite the fact that laws in a number of other liberal bourgeois democracies proscribe things such as the use of Nazi symbolism, Holocaust denial, and hate speech [x]. This shows that there is bipartisan support for the legal status of neo-Nazism, which is not a given, even within the confines of bourgeois democracy.
Despite Trump’s tepid condemnation of the neo-Nazis’ illegal tactics and bipartisan support for neo-Nazism’s “right” to fester upon society, on August 15th he spoke publicly about Charlottesville for a third time, arguing that the “alt-left”, a made-up term which serves only to draw a false equivalence between the political Left and the the far-right [x], shared responsibility for the terrorist attack on leftists in Charlottesville [x].
Shortly after the August 14th comments about “criminals and thugs”, Trump went on to say, “We are a nation founded on the truth that all of us are created equal. We are equal in the eyes of our Creator. We are equal under the law. And we are equal under our Constitution.” This is patently false, since Trump’s 90 day travel ban on citizens of six Muslim-majority countries, now halfway expired, hinges on the argument that not all human beings are to be treated equally by the U.S. legal system and Constitution. Once again Trump has rhetorically marshalled the citizenry with Nationalist ideology. This is at a time when his regime appears to be making good on its promise to outdo the previous record-holder, Obama, in effecting more deportations of alien “Others” from the United States [x]. The boilerplate platitude about the U.S.A. being “a nation founded on the truth that all of us are created equal”, lifted from the Declaration of Independence, is practically meaningless in this context, since chattel slavery outlasted this declaration by almost a century. The phrase “We are all equal” was as incongruent with the real situation of 1817 as it is with the reality of 2017, when so many of us are denied access to basic human rights, treated unequally by the law, and forced by lack of freedom from want and fear to perform unpaid surplus labor during much of our waking hours.
A sober analysis of the facts will reveal that there can be no combination between “Americanism” and anti-fascism. This “anti-fascism” which bases itself on Americanism is ineffective at best, and it is its own form of fascism at worst. I call it the right-wing of “anti-fascism” because, in contrast to the left-wing of anti-fascism, which calls for a multinational revolution against fascism and the conditions themselves which produce it, the right-wing (pseudo) “anti-fascism” calls for liberals (falsely identified with the political Left despite belonging more to the center, in proximity to the Right) to combine with conservatives in a sick display of “national unity”.
What right-wing “anti-fascist” commentary which continues to rhetorically marshal the national “we” (the quintessential subject of fascist reaction) fails to take note of in Trump’s initial response to the deadly Nationalist Front attack in Charlottesville is that it is not merely his “failure” to identify the bigoted antagonizing party to the conflict which is significant, but the way in which Trump’s speech whistles to right-wing dogs, and carries forward their ideology of American nationalism. And by wallowing in Americanism, the would-be opponents of Trump remain tethered to the fascist body, like a gangrened limb.
Expressions of this all-American “anti-fascism” appeared to rise up organically on Twitter, where #ThisIsNotUS became a trend [x]. Not long after that, an anti-“Alt-Right” meme modeled on a World War II era poster featuring the character “Uncle Sam” appeared and began to spread online. This image is worth discussing, as a brief analysis of it will begin to demonstrate that the nationalism of Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, and centrists and moderates is much closer to the nationalism of the Nationalist Front terrorists than it is to antifascist internationalism.
“Uncle Sam” is of course a personification of the United States and the first thing that stands out about him, besides his striped pants and starred vest, is his whiteness, made overwhelming by his pure white hair. Clearly this symbolic representation of a nation embodied in an individual human being conveys something about the artist’s idea of what “kind” of human being is “typical” or representative of that nation’s hundreds of millions of people. As one writer puts it, “Political cartoons” were (and still are) a reflection of the perceived “racial conditions of a society” [x]. So right away, Uncle Sam is an expression of white nationalism.
Even more problematic is the fact that this particular version of Uncle Sam has been lifted from a World War II era poster which features the racial slur “Jap”. The anonymous(?) creator of the “Stop the ‘Alt-Right’” poster has even kept the same style of bold red lettering at the top of the poster and calqued the “We’ll finish the job” into “We’ll beat ’em” at the bottom, so you know where the inspiration came from.
Uncle Sam has a checkered history of being used to promote the exact same racist demands that neo-Nazis and “white nationalists” demand today, demands like booting out racially othered immigrant populations, treating the “white race” as superior to others, and building an “Imperium” on top of annexed foreign lands.
Here, above, the white nationalist personage of Uncle Sam boots out a racist caricature of a Chinese person. Bottom text reads, “THE CHINESE MUST GO”. This image dates to around 1882, when the Chinese Exclusion Act anticipated Trump’s so-called “Muslim Travel Ban”.
This image from 1899 shows Uncle Sam as a disciplinarian schoolmaster. The Philippines, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Cuba (territories annexed by the United States during the late 19th century) are represented by racist caricatures of dark-skinned children. Colonialism was often justified by the alleged need to bring “civilization” to the “child-like races”. The white children sitting behind them are studious and the names of states are written on their books, showing that they represent the American states which by that time had become predominantly populated by white settlers. The text on the blackboard reads in part, “England has governed her colonies whether they consented or not. By not waiting for their consent she has greatly advanced the world’s civilization. The U.S. must govern its new territories with or without their consent until they can govern themselves.”
We have sampled just two out of the many Uncle Sam images with strongly white nationalist messages which have been produced over the years, but I think this is enough to understand the point. More white nationalism is not a good response to the “white nationalism” which manifested in Charlottesville. (Note: I place scare-quotes around this term because, like “alt-right”, it is merely a re-branding of white supremacist groups long understood to be of a neo-Nazi nature, made in an effort to improve their public image).
Yet another expression of this pseudo-antifascist All-Americanism in the aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville began to propagate itself in the online spheres, where it was “liked” by hundreds of thousands of people and probably seen by many more, when someone decided that those who think their own American nationalism to be of the “good” sort would get a kick out of seeing a clip from a 1947 U.S. military propaganda film called Don’t be a Sucker.
In the particular scene which went viral [x], we encounter a character who is meant to be an “obvious” fascist. He’s standing on a soapbox, addressing a small crowd, railing against the quadruple scourge of “Negroes”, “alien foreigners”, “Catholics”, and “Freemasons”. In the crowd we see two men in particular who are listening to him. One of them is later revealed to be an immigrant from Hungary and the other, a natural-born American.
The “native” American nods his head in agreement with everything the fascist says until eventually the latter starts railing against Freemasons.
“Masons? What’s wrong with the Masons? I’m a Mason. Hey, that fella’s talking about me,” the man says.
“And that makes a difference, doesn’t it?” the naturalized citizen of Hungarian origin replies.
The fascist ends his speech and the two men continue talking.
“Before he said ‘Masons,’ you were ready to agree with him,” the second man says.
“Yes, but he was talking about–What about those other people?” the first man says.
Next, and here we get to the “antifascist” climax of the clip, the second man explains, “In this country we have no other people, we are American people.”
Now compare the “We have no other people,” message of Don’t be a Sucker with what Trump actually said on Saturday the 12th day of August 2017, after a Nationalist Front neo-Nazi had just committed a murderous terrorist attack directed against left-wing individuals standing up and demonstrating against racism and fascism:
“No matter our color, creed, religion or political party, we are all Americans first. We love our country. We love our God. We love our flag. We’re proud of our country. We’re proud of who we are. So we want to get this situation straightened out in Charlottesville, and we want to study it. We want to see where we’re going wrong as a country” [x].
The message from the 1947 U.S. military propaganda film (“We [Americans] have no other people,”) is exactly the same as that which Trump had conveyed by rhetorically marshalling “we” as the national subject in his first response to Charlottesville. Not “we” as in human beings. Not “we” as in opponents of fascism as such. But “we” as in citizens of the U.S.A. “We” as in unquestioning participants in mindless ritual displays of flag-worshipping patriotism. Trump’s boilerplate nonsense about “no matter our color, creed, religion or political party” might sound superficially inclusive and unbigoted to a simpleton. But by excluding nationality, Trump is already excluding the alien “Other” and marshalling the nationalistic body politic. Just think how nonsensical it would sound if he had said, “No matter our nationality, citizenship, migrant status, or if our visas are expired, we are all Americans first.” Simply put, no, “we” are not “all Americans” and dominant culture sure as hell does not treat everyone as though they were “all the same”. This tacky Americanism is a particularly malicious way to respond to a neo-Nazi attack, since neo-Nazis have a long history of attacking the “other people”, not those who are comfortably seen as integral to the nationalistic body politic.
“We” hardly need a newsflash to tell us that James Fields and his neo-Nazi and Klan brethren in the Nationalist Front are citizens of the U.S.A. By saying that “our” Americanism comes before anything else, Trump unifies “us” with the neo-Nazi terrorist and all his American partners who, there is no doubt, would be much more inclined to say, “We love our God and our Country and we’re proud of it,” than those of us on the left-wing of genuine anti-fascism, a significant proportion of us being (1) non-believers in the God of the billionaire Trump (that god which is Money), (2) haters of the system of nation-states which dislocates us from our loved ones, kills migrants, and is the basis of every modern war, (3) adequately aware of and versed in the history of fascist bourgeois nationalism and its mass psychology so as to be immune to all of the cues and triggers designed to induce the crocodile emotions of patriotism, and (4) ashamed, ashamed to be marshalled by this sexually predatory, fake-tanned old man into his subject and told what we must love and be proud of.
According to this way of thinking (which says, “We are all Americans first,”) our Americanism precedes, and is therefore more important and reigns supreme over the fact of whether, for example, we belong to a fascist “political party” or an antifascist one, whether we are actively working towards the orchestration of genocide or slated to be exterminated, whether we are perpetrators of hate-crime or victims, or whether we pay other people to produce untold sums of money for us or we work for other people to get paid hopefully enough to make ends meet. For a materially powerful person who is a representative of the ruling class to rhetorically marshal any of the latter categories into artificial unity with the former is to promise physical violence and annihilation. It is to predestine the elimination of “other people” and the prevention of an “Other” consciousness. It is to combine the promise of “We have no other people,” with the resolve to make it so in reality. It is a declaration of war on “Other” people, i.e. “alien” social elements, the ones who do not love the “God” of Trump, who do not love a piece of cloth, who do not see themselves as Americans first and foremost, who identify themselves in other ways instead, who have other priorities.
The fasces is symbolic of the fascist mentality.
The fasces, the symbol of the Vanguard America gang members seen in this photo and which was also carried by the murderous neo-Nazi James Fields, is a signifier of this idea that national identity should reign supreme in each individual’s psyche. A fasces is a bundle of sticks which stands for the notion that a nation’s citizenry are stronger when collectively bound together than as twigs which, taken individually, snap easily. As a symbol of national unity, the fasces represents the idea that class struggle within the nation is “divisive” and weakens it. By calling for the members of the national body politic to put their civic identity as “Americans” in a position of supremacy over whatever other affiliations they may have, including as members of socioeconomically, racially, or sexually oppressed classes, Trump — and the so-called “progressive” Democrats — attack class consciousness and endorse the fascist mentality.
In the nationalist utterance of Trump, “We are all Americans first”, we can also parse out a deeper significance to the placement of the word “all” in front of the word “American”. Its appearance here is to signify not only that “All of us are Americans”, but that “We are All-Americans.”
The term “All-American” is frequently employed to describe that which is either “composed wholly of American elements” or “representative or typical of the U.S. or its ideals” [x]. Like the somewhat antiquated term “Great-Russian”, which was “used formerly in distinguishing ethnic Russians from other constituent peoples of the Soviet Union or the Russian Empire” [x], the term “All-American” has long been used to distinguish between those who have the traits of a “typical” American (white, Anglo-Saxon or Germanic heritage, Protestant, etc.) and those who are marked, wholly or partially, by some “alien” stigmata. By saying, “We are All-Americans,” Trump dog whistles a white nationalist conceptualization of what an “American” is and who “we” are.
This idea of “all-Americanism” is conveyed in the film The Good Shepherd, in the following bit of dialogue between two characters:
Joseph Palmi: We Italians, we got our families and we got the church. The Irish, they have the homeland. The Jews, their traditions. Even the [N word], they got their music. What about you people Mr. Carlson, what do you have?
Edward: The United States of America, the rest of you are just visiting [x].
Several Urban Dictionary entries for “All-American” also detail the racist connotations of this word. Here is the top Urban Dictionary definition of “All-American” [x]:
A word that describes a certain type of ultra-conservative white person who lives in a small rural or suburban towns in middle America. This term is exclusively used by white people to describe their perfect vision of what they believe embodies a true American person. Whites fail to realize just how racist the term “All American” is. If only white people from middle America can be “All American”, that must mean that all the blacks, latinos, asians, native americans and mixed people can never fully be regarded as Americans by the oppressive white society. Think about it, if you are born black in this country, white people will call you “African American”. But the majority of black people born in here in America have never been to Africa and will never go there in their entire lifetime. Its really fucking racist. (Submitted by “thagoldenchild” on May 9, 2008)
Another popular definition for “All-American”:
A conformist who is blindly patriotic, votes Republican not because the values of the party are true to them, but because “everyone else is gay” or they’re scared the terrorists will kill them and does whatever anyone wants for them. All American males usually have blond buzz cuts and are tall, well built and stupid. All American girls will usually have long blond hair, and stupid. They can be of any class, but often tend to be richer, or at least born in a rich suburban family. Still, most rednecks are all American, too. (Submitted anonymously on January 23, 2005)
Shifting slightly, we move now from “all-Americans” to the next bit of the dog whistle: “Americans first”. This is a clear allusion to the “America First” slogan which was adopted by the Trump presidential election campaign in 2016, when he promised that it would be “the major and overriding theme” of his draconian capitalist regime [x]. The slogan harkens back to the “America First Committee”, which was a large anti-war group that petitioned to keep the U.S. out of the Second World War, rendered problematic by the presence of antisemitic and Nazi-sympathizing forces. A latter day “America First Committee” was formed in 1980 by Arthur Jones, a longtime neo-Nazi who took part in the infamous neo-Nazi marches in Illinois in 1978 after the American Civil Liberties Union won them the right to provoke Holocaust survivors by marching through their neighborhoods [x, x]. (Incidentally, the ACLU came under fire in connection to the neo-Nazi mayhem in Charlottesville for, under the pretense of protecting free speech, actually defending the right of the terrorist groups to publicly assemble in armed assault formations and immediately communicating misinformation to the public about the neo-Nazi vehicular assault on leftists that implied that it was accidental and provoked by rock-throwing, although the ACLU later later retracted this false claim [x, x]).
Part of what is significant here is that the latter day America First Committee is one of the founding members of the previously mentioned Aryan Nationalist Alliance, the umbrella organization composed of dozens of smaller Klan, neo-Nazi, and Christian Identity factions whose goal is to “unite the right”. According to a press release from another one of the co-founder groups, the Aryan Nationalist Alliance was formed on April 22, 2016 (two days after Adolf Hitler’s birthday, commonly memorialized by neo-Nazi groups). The Aryan Nationalist Alliance later changed its name to Nationalist Front and, in April 2017, Vanguard America joined the so-called Nationalist Front. Two out of the ten speakers who were slated to publicly address the crowds at the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally are Nationalist Front members: Michael Hill and Matt Heimbach [x].
Below is the flyer for the “Unite the Right” rally showing the presence of two members of the Nationalist Front on the official list of speakers, which was shared on Twitter in June [x] by “Alt-Right” white nationalist head of the “National Policy Institute” Richard Spencer (who collaborated with Trump’s chief speechwriter Stephen Miller as members of the Duke Conservative Union at Duke University in 2007 [x]).
Michael Hill is the leader of the neo-Confederate “League of the South”, while Matt Heimbach is the leader of the “Traditionalist Worker Party”. Both the League of the South and the Traditionalist Worker Party are member organizations of the Nationalist Front. These two men, along with Jeff Schoep, “Commander” of the “National Socialist Movement” (the largest neo-Nazi organization in the United States) appear to be the main leaders of the Nationalist Front [x], although a press release published by the NSM indicates that the Nationalist Front is essentially Schoep’s brainchild; there it is noted that it was Schoep who “unveiled a Historic document detailing a plan for the Aryan Nationalist Alliance” (now renamed Nationalist Front).
Below is the press release, retrieved from “NSM Magazine Summer/Fall 2016”. NSM and the Nationalist Front seem to have done a half-assed job trying to delete references to Nationalist Front member groups like the “Aryan Terror Brigade”, probably realizing that this is not a good look for an organization that claims to “reject illegal, seditious and violent conduct as a model of political change” and be “dedicated to a peaceful process of gaining power”. References to Aryan Terror Brigade and several other founding groups listed in the original press release have been scrubbed from both the Nationalist Front website (nfunity.org) and an NSM web page relating the information about the “historic alliance formed by U.S. white nationalists”. On a similar note, NSM and their NF front organization appear to have made an effort to “go mainstream” and win more adherents by phasing out their use of the swastika and terms like “Aryan” in favor of symbols like the othala rune and terms like “Alt-Right” [x]. Nevertheless, the NSM website (nsm88.org) continues to host a PDF file of the “NSM Magazine Summer/Fall 2016” where these groups, which are obviously incompatible with the objective of bringing neo-Nazism into the mainstream, are listed as founders of Nationalist Front. The Southern Poverty Law Center also confirms this list of NF founders [x].
The press release also reveals some important facts about the composition of the Nationalist Front which the road rage racist killer James Fields and official speakers at the “Unite the Right” rally belong to. Among its founding member organizations we find numerous groups with penchants for racially-motivated terrorism and violent crime. Let’s just sample a few of these:
One is the so-called “Phineas Priesthood”. This is said by some to be more of a “meme” than an actual organization [x]; an ideology which is nothing but a glorified justification for committing racially-motivated murder. As one source puts it: “Phineas priests take their name from the biblical figure Phinehas in the book of Numbers, who is described as brutally murdering an Israelite man for having sex with a foreign woman, who he also kills. Members of the Phineas Priesthood — which people ‘join’ simply by adopting the views of the movement — are notoriously violent, and some adherents have been convicted of bank robberies, bombing abortion clinics, and planning to blow up government buildings” [x]. The fact that the Nationalist Front names the “Phineas Priesthood” as a founding member of the organization signals that the murdering of so-called “race-mixers” and “race-polluters” serves as an ideological point of reference for what the group hopes to achieve and the methods they are willing to employ as means to those ends.
Another Nationalist Front founding organization is the previously mentioned Aryan Terror Brigade. Members of the Aryan Terror Brigade were convicted of carrying out racist assaults on Muslim-looking people in 2013 [x]. The group is said to be a branch of Combat 18 [x, x], a British neo-Nazi group which claimed responsibility for the terrorist bombing campaign targeting Black British, South Asian, and LGBT communities in London which took place during the days surrounding April 20, 1999, killing three people and causing four others to lose limbs. A group called the “White Wolves”, an offshoot of Combat 18, also claimed responsibility for the bombings [x]. (Another Nationalist Front co-founder is listed as “White Wolves Invictus”).
“Aryan Strikeforce” is another Nationalist Front co-founder group which claims “Combat 18 International” affiliation, as shown on the VKontake profile of the group’s founder Joshua Michael Steever (“Hatchet”), who also founded Aryan Terror Brigade before being kicked out of it and has a history of making terroristic threats [x, x]. Strikeforce is the name of a Combat 18 publication which, before the London Nail Bomb attacks, declared that “The [only] answer is an international terror/sabotage campaign” [x, x]. Numerous members of Aryan Strikeforce were arrested in 2016 and 2017 and are said to have been amassing machine guns [x].
David Copeland, nicknamed “The London Nail Bomber”, was the only person convicted of carrying out the 1999 neo-Nazi bombings in London, claiming to have acted as a “lone wolf” [x]. In part by relying on the doctrine of “leaderless resistance”, neo-Nazi organizations can shift responsibility for all of their illegal actions onto rogue “lone wolves” and enjoy the protection of the capitalist state and “free speech”-defending liberals who back up their above-the-board activism and organizing which pretends to be strictly interested in legal activity. This is a sham pretense. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the nature of an organization founded by groups like “Aryan Terror Brigade” and “White Wolves Invictus”.
It’s worth expanding on one point here and noting that the London Nail Bomber was a member of another British neo-Nazi group, “coincidentally” also named “National Socialist Movement” (like “White Wolves”, the British NSM was also an offshoot of Combat 18 [x]). The British NSM was led by David Myatt, a man who is in turn widely acknowledged to have used various pseudonyms in leading a cult called the “Order of Nine Angles”, which embraces “traditional Satanism” and neo-Nazism, and advocates the practice of human sacrifice as a form of Hitlerian eugenics. In my post “What is Net-Centric Warfare?” from November 2016, I showed how the facelift given to neo-Nazism (by adopting the “Alt-Right” identity and using a cartoon frog called “Pepe” or “Kek” in place of a swastika) has borrowed heavily from Satanic strains of neo-Nazism in developing something called the “Cult of Kek”, which revolves around the belief in “meme magick” and the appearance of Pepe the Frog as a theophany of the Ancient Egyptian god Kek. This runs parallel to the neo-Nazi and U.S. military-linked “Temple of Set”, another Satanic cult appropriating from the mythology of Ancient Egypt.
This cryptic far-right “spirituality” seems to be further manifested by the fact that another keynote speaker at the “Unite the Right” rally was the eccentric eugenics advocate [x] Augustus Sol Invictus, currently a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Florida, who began making sensationalized headlines two years ago in part for claiming to have sacrificed a goat and drank its blood. “Sol Invictus” is said to identify as “pagan” [x]. Tellingly, comparative religion scholar Mattias Gardell notes in Gods of the Blood: The Pagan Revival and White Separatism that the eugenics-advocating “Order of Nine Angles” cult describes its brand of Satanism as a “militant paganism” [x] derived from the “solar cults of Albion”, i.e. sun-worshipping cults of ancient Britain. “Sol Invictus” means “unconquered sun”.
Another leading member of the Nationalist Front is Michael Tubbs, head of the Florida section of the League of the South. Tubbs was convicted in the 1990s for his involvement in a plot to start a race war by attacking African-American and Jewish-owned businesses [x, x]. Tubbs has since been released from prison and “was photographed [participating] in several brawls” during the “Unite the Right” rally [x].
The NSM is no stranger to terrorism itself. The case of Samuel James Johnson, a “former” NSM member (because it’s always a “former” member) who went on to found his own “Aryan Liberation Movement” went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 (see Johnson v. United States [x]). Despite plotting to conduct paramilitary-style attacks on a Mexican consulate and left-wing bookstores and assassinate “liberals” [x], Johnson was not tried as a terrorist but as an “armed career criminal”. Uncannily, lawyers presented arguments on behalf of the neo-Nazi on April 20, 2015. The Supreme Court’s decision seems to have been favorable to the neo-Nazi terrorist plaintiff, ruling that the Armed Career Criminal Act by which he had been sentenced to 15 years of prison was unconstitutional.
All of this goes to show that the fascist white supremacist who had conducted the deadly terrorist attack just prior to Trump’s speech last Saturday (August 12, 2017) was, in acting as a member of the Nationalist Front, therefore formally associated with, not only the NF member groups mentioned above which have well documented histories of and connections to terrorism, but also the neo-Nazi organization known as the America First Committee.
Donald Trump’s response to this situation was to invoke a neo-Nazi slogan, a neo-Nazi slogan which has been a neo-Nazi slogan, continuously, for at least 37 years. A neo-Nazi slogan which the Nationalist Front sub-group which the murderous fascist was seen standing in uniformed formation with, Vanguard America, has used in its own propaganda:
Trump’s response has also been to blame the victims of this terrorist attack, the political Left and to make “But not all…” type excuses for the attendees of a rally to defend monuments to Pro-Slavery Rebellion which was officially billed as having multiple speakers affiliated with the Nationalist Front, a group founded by people who openly pine for “an international terror campaign” and spiritual rewards for the act of murdering “race-polluters”.
In uttering the despicable words, “We are all-Americans First,” Trump has blown a dog whistle. When right-wing dogs hear those despicable words, what they understand is:
“We must make our ‘Uncle Sam’-esque National identity our Supreme identity, and act accordingly.”
Or, in other words:
“We must bring Nationalism to the Front.”
There can be no doubt that this is what neo-Nazi ears hear loud and clear.
“Valencia, Spain: Mural for Murdered Antifascist Comrade Heather Heyer”, courtesy of Insurrection News [x]
ALL WORKS CITED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PRINCIPLE OF FAIR USE.
A Schizoanalysis of Transracialism and Transgenderism in Paris is Burning
* * *
By Daniel K. Buntovnik, 13 February 2017
What is transraciality, and who is transrace? The Rachel Doležal affair invites the question
There is debate about the meaning of the term “transrace”. The prominence of discourse around the term “transrace” was elevated in the mid 2010s in the wake of the sensationalized story of Rachel Doležal, a woman who is said to have a verified genealogical tree which traces back to the peoples of Northern and Central Europe (but who is also said to have family members [in-law] of Sub-Saharan African descent), in addition to having deceived people in the Pacific Northwestern region of the United States of America into believing that she was a Black person with a pale complexion, acting as an NAACP leader whilst assuming this identity. She apparently did this by dyeing her hair darker and perming it, using artificial skin pigmentation-modifying (‘fake tan’) products, and perhaps affecting her speech with Ebonics elements. In the wake of the scandal over Doležal’s apparent deception, some individuals added to the discourse by denouncing the use of the term “transrace” to describe individuals like Doležal; they claimed instead that “transrace” should only be used to describe individuals who are raised by adoptive parents of a racial grouping deemed “other” to that of their biological ancestors. (See here, for example). While I do not wish to dwell excessively on this debate over the one “true” definition of the term “transrace”, I felt it was important to start out by acknowledging it before we delve into the topic of transracialism. And yet, another possible definition has been disconsidered: that the adjective “transrace” may fittingly be used to describe individuals who exist in a multigenerational process of racial transitioning.
Shame. Shame and self-contempt. Nausea. When people like me, they tell me it is in spite of my color. When they dislike me, they point out that it is not because of my color. Either way, I am locked into the infernal circle. I turn away from these inspectors of the Ark before the Flood and I attach myself to my brothers, Negroes like myself. To my horror, they too reject me. They are almost white. And besides they are about to marry white women. They will have children faintly tinged with brown. Who knows, perhaps little by little. . . .
Following the intergenerational/transgenerational distinction developed by theorists in the field of psychogenealogy such as Anne Ancelin Schützenberger, we might call the form of transracialism evoked by Fanon intergenerational, because the racial transition occurs as the result of a conscious effort made by the ancestor on behalf of the descendant, so that the latter may be accepted into a racial category to which the former did not belong, while we might call a multigenerational transracialism transgenerational when it occurs unconsciously, without the individuals involved becoming aware of the process, perhaps due to unconscious absorption of white supremacist cultural values.
Due to white supremacy, the racial transitioning process in America has usually gone in the opposite direction to that observed in the case of Rachel Doležal. That is to say that white supremacy encouraged individuals of the Sub-Saharan African diaspora in the United States of America to long for whiteness, a racial ideal which was construed as an unstigmatized personal state for the individual. American literary works such as Sinclair Lewis’s Kingsblood Royal(1947)and Fannie Hurst’s Imitation of Life (1933)have immortalized these tales of “tragic mulattos” and “tragic quintroons” like Peola and Neil Kingsblood, protagonists of the aforementioned works for whom being racially “outed” spells personal catastrophe. The upwardly mobile individual is also always white-wardly mobile in a global economy constructed around the fiscal elevation of those racialized as “white”. Perhaps this is why many found the acts which Rachel Doležal performed to be somehow troubling. She achieved upward mobility, gaining a certain social prestige in becoming an NAACP leader, by adopting the mannerisms and the get-up (which we might well qualify as “drag”) that she needed in order to perform an historically stigmatized racial identity.
Drag as transgressive, transcendant tool for moving beyond limitations imposed upon one’s gender, race, sexual orientation
“Drag” typically evokes the practice of male “queens” dressing up and behaving as if they were women. This is, however, a limited understanding. In Jennie Livingston’s 1990 documentary Paris is Burning, we see that the drag shows performed at late 20th century balls in New York City consisted not only in the male adoption of feminine clothing and mannerisms (i.e. the gender-bending “drag queens” of stereotypical lore), but that these performances also operated across the racial plane of social difference. And the expanded possibilities of drag which the film depicts do not end there; race and gender are not the only modalities upon which drag operates. As other critics have pointed out, the film “extends this argument [that drag is a practice that can potentially draw attention to the imitative nature of gender itself through its parodic repetition of gender norms] to include the constructed nature of race and class identity as well as gender identity” [See: Lauren Levitt, “Reality Realness: Paris is Burning and RuPaul’s Drag Race” in Interventions Journal (7 November 2013)].
In a segment of the film devoted to the exposition of this class and race-nonconforming form of drag, we see individuals historically stigmatized as Black “homosexuals” perform power drag by symbolically taking on the roles of members of the U.S. military and “successful” (ruling class) white American individuals. Not only do the drag shows include Afro-diasporic subjects dramatically imitating (and thereby critiquing) European thought and behavior, but they also feature gays donning hetero-drag to perform straight individuality, offering thus their critiques of other stigmatized individuals occupying contextually determined contradictory positionalities vis-à-vis oppression, such as heterosexual street thugs “of color”, at their dance battling balls. Therefore, in addition to race, class, and gender, we can also add sexually orientative identities to the constructed modalities upon which drag operates. Closeted gays can be said to be performing this kind of drag in almost every moment of their lives. Indeed, gender and sexuality researcher Lauren Levitt relates that, insofar as most everybody wants or expects to be accepted as a “real” iteration of a gender or ethnicity, “many writers” have made the case that “everyone essentially is in drag” [ibid].
The objective of the drag performance is to exude a kind of authenticity the drag ball community dubbed “realness”, which gender and sexuality researcher Lauren Levitt defines as “the extent to which a performance conforms to the standard by which it is being judged”. When individuals strive for realness in the assumption of new racial identities, it is called racial “passing”.
This broader sense of the possibilities of drag which the film conveys leads us to the realization that Rachel Doležal does indeed engage in a form of drag. A great deal of the controversy surrounding Doležal arises then from those skeptical of her realness, or lack thereof. It has to be admitted though that Doležal did have a fair degree of success in being able to “pass” as Black, her position in the NAACP leadership seeming to add to her realness.
How well does Doležal conform to the abstracted, “standard”-ized notion of “a person of color”? How valid is it to hold individuals up to such standards?
Contesting ruling class recuperations
For what reason have the drag performances depicted in Paris is Burning been valorized by certain hegemonic forces within 21st century American society? It should be considered whether the decision taken in late 2016 by the U.S. government’s Library of Congress to “preserve and honor” the film, while appreciable, nevertheless signals a further step towards the recuperation of the revolutionary race and sex politics the film portrays (for example, in the Marxian, abolitionist attitude it conveys through its emphasis on the liberatory sociality of the drag ball “houses” as an alternative to the coercive sociality of the patriarchal, bourgeois standard of “the family”). This recuperation is mirrored in analogue developments such as the white engineering of African-American-led imperialism at the critical moment of burgeoning unrest at the tailend of the deeply unpopular, bank-bailing regime of George W. Bush, when the U.S. government donned transracial drag, using blackface to preserve its historical white power, as well as the sanctioning of gay-tolerant militarism achieved in 2011 via the repeal of the homophobic “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
Thus while the generalized upward mobility of Modern Family-esque 21st century homosexual male individuality within U.S. society via developments such as the legalization of gay marriage, based on and enabled in large part by events orchestrated by groups such as the Gay Liberation Movement and other trailblazing radical LGBTQIA+ activists required cultural subversiveness–such as the identification with “Third World” Marxists (e.g. the Gay Liberation Front’s nomenclatural identification with the National Liberation Front, which at that time was engaged in bloody armed conflict with U.S. military forces in Vietnam), the recuperation and assimilation of the traces of this subversiveness by the same forces originally targeted for subversion by subalterns signals a hegemonic counteroffensive.
But a DOLEŽAL archetype poses startling questions for the social movements in general; what do we make of white, or “formerly white”, individuals finding 21st century socio-economic success–however extravagant or modest that “success” may be–in the appropriation of Transatlantic Afro-diasporic Black identity, in the dissimulation of WASP assimilation? And while Doležal made headway in becoming a civil rights activist, does her brand of transracialism not open up the way for presumably less well-intentioned, Justin Bieber-type appropriators who would inevitably adopt this Transatlantic Afro-diasporic Black identity, to monopolize culture-linked profit ventures opened up by the development of black and gay markets and sections of the bourgeoisie? (This trend could be–indeed, has been–analyzed with elder cultural icons, such as Elvis Presley, although many efforts have been made to highlight the fact that Elvis was a Romanichal, and thus “not white”.)
While transgenderism has existed in a variety of cultures, and for a long time, it has become one of the more contentious matters which divides the contemporary gay activist community itself, most noticeable nowadays perhaps when we cleave the latter at its intersection with the so-called “TERF” (or “Trans-Exclusive Radical Feminist”, a term which some argue constitutes a slur) community, comprising individuals who may or may not be of Lesbian persuasion. Let us return to the matter of so-called “TERFeminism” later on. For now, we can take notice of the fact that the gay community taking part in the balls of fin du 20ième siècle New York City was also not united in its understanding of what it meant, at that time, to be a drag queen.
The phrase “the gay community” has, by 2017, come to sound somewhat old-fashioned. During the years of the mid to late 2000s, high school Diversity Clubs and Gay-Straight Alliances, tended towards use of the acronym GLBT for “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender”, while in the 2010s the acronym LGBT has come to predominate over the former. We may suspect that this is a feminist victory because “gay” tends towards connotations of male homosexuality, and thus “gay movement” and “gay community” imply patriarchal forms, GLBT implying a gay-headed Lesbian movement. Meanwhile, the positionality of the letter T, at the end of the LGBT and GLBT acronyms shows its subordination, suggesting de-valuation of the transgender or “transsexual” community, which has long been known in part for its drag queens. Based on facts discernible in the film Paris is Burning (1990), many of the drag queens of ’80s NYC identified themselves as men who performed womanhood, and not as trans-women. An example of this is Pepper LaBeija, whose remarks in the film include: “Women get treated badly. You know, they get beat, they get robbed, they get dogged, so having the vagina, that doesn’t mean that you are going to have a fabulous life. It might in fact be worse.”
After watching Paris is Burning, my interest in learning more about the history of the U.S. gay community spiked as I recalled much of the hubbub which 21st century gay rights activism front groups for Marxist political organizations claim was roused out of the masses from the mere mention of the Stonewall Uprising, when homosexual members of the New York working classes were decisively victorious in staging a sort of insurrection due to social conflict between them, exploitative organized crime groups, and the harassive police forces. So it was around the same time that I viewed Paris is Burning that I watched another documentary film, also hosted by Youtube, that I had found about the Stonewall Uprising which occurred after an unlicensed, Mafia-rackateered gay bar called the Stonewall Inn was raided by oppressive, homophobic police. After that documentary was feasted upon by my eyes and ears, I saw a short video about five, or possibly ten, American gay riots which occurred before Stonewall, as far back as 1959, in California. From these sources, I gathered that the “gay bar” culture had really begun to spread during the 1960s. It occurred to me that, in a way, the gay bars replaced the speakeasies of the 1930s, being illegal drinking establishments which were sometimes owned by the mob. But there do exist those aficionados of the “gay bar” scene who may eschew the “homosexual lifestyle” itself, if we consider patterns of sexual relations between organisms constitutive of a lifestyle. One may also wonder about the sexuality of Italian mobsters who visited the Stonewall gay bar, if only to collect their dues. But I do question the value and legitimacy of the discourse of those individuals who advocate supporting the identity label “Queer” as a meeting point between the LGBT community and the LGBT community’s “weird” friends and then in retrospect perhaps do support the value and legitimacy of this notion, because I believe that one can, and indeed many do, frequent gay bars without necessarily having a true sentimental connaissance of homosexual desire, and therefore be identified, by some in the society in which that individual lives, as “straight”, but not the kind of “straight” that’s chill with gay bars–therefore becoming “Queer” in a way, due to proximity in the social movements historically associated with “homosexuality”, “bisexuality”, and “transsexuality”.
It had come to my attention that some of the drag queens in the film Paris is Burning were white-passing, due to the fact that in the comments section of Youtube, where Paris is Burning is hosted and available for viewing, a comment left by some forlorn internaut could be found identifying Dorian Corey, a drag queen, by the epitaph “the white drag queen”.
Thereafter, another commenter chimed in, chiding the writer of the previous comment and asserting that Dorian Corey was African-American or Black. I’m not sure which ethnonym that commenter asserted to be applicable to Corey; perhaps they did not even identify one ethnonym or the other, but simply stated that Dorian Corey was, in fact, “not white”.
In the case of these individuals such as Dorian Corey and other lighter skinned, blue eyed “Negros” called (e.g. Walter Francis) White, it is thought that they are Black because of the One Drop Rule, which states that though they may in actuality be mainly European of ancestral extraction, they are in actuality BLACK due to the “predominance” of black blood over white blood. Frances Cress Welsing took this a step further, establishing the notion of whiteness as a genetically recessive phenomenon in her groundbreaking Cress Theory of Color-Confrontation, formalizing the pseudoscientific One Drop Rule from the standpoint of Critical Race Theory.
Above: The original Walter White, a prominent African-American leader in the same organization as Rachel Doležal, before his name was culturally misappropriated by the father-figure actor from the American sitcom “Malcolm in the Middle” in an early 21st century prestige television program about methamphetamine.
Frances Cress Welsing was a successful psychoanalyst who, alongside other luminaries who brought forth the discourse of Afrocentricity during the 1970s and 1980s, mastered the craft of psychoanalytic, and some would argue, “pseudoscientific” racial theorizing.
Though aspects of Cress Welsing’s multi-decade oeuvre could possibly be subjected to a number of sound criticisms, more deserving of recognition and attention here is one of her final nuggets of wisdom. I refer here to her astounding analytic insight into the twisted psyche of Dylan Storm Roof, the White Southerner currently on death row for having perpetrated on June 17, 2015 the massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in which he ended the lives of nine innocent individuals for no reason other than his white power delusion (though we must be careful not to excuse or downgrade the responsibility/despicability of white power political extremist thinking and organizing with psychopathological terminology such as “delusion”). Shortly before her death on January 2, 2016, Cress Welsing illustrated clearly with her elegant, prosaic speech that Dylan Storm Roof had a racialized sexual fetish, perhaps based in a violence-prone complex of racialized sexual inferiority, which was expressed with the symbolic re-presentation of his phallus as a large black pistol, playing up the racial stereotypes.
Above: In this photo we see the soon-to-be lethally injected Storm Roof placing a firearm in an arguably sexually suggestive location in relation to his body, dangling it between his legs, and surrounding himself with potted flowers. Sigmund Freud advises that we should not forget that flowers are in fact the genitals of plants. Notice how the black pistol forms a graphic connection between the reproductive organs of the non-human life forms and those of Storm Roof. This racialized sexual transference–the replacement of the white penis with the black phallic object–stands as further evidence of the intersectionality of transgenderism and transracialism. Although Storm Roof’s phallic substitution does not constitute transgenderism (the pistol being a male gendered, penile object), it is transsexually transracial.
The attentive viewer of Paris is Burning will observe the interesectionality of transracialism and transgenderism, which is particularly striking in personages such as Dorian Corey (though not only). The film evidences a certain affinity between the phenomenon of gender-transitioning and that of “Negro” to “white-passing” (to “white”) transgenerational transracialism–a historical process occurring among many individuals who also happened to share an interest in transitioning themselves from being “men” into being “women”, whether permanently in day-to-day life or temporarily in the ritualized context of the balls.
The academic who prefers not to capitalize the first letters of her pen name, bell hooks, identifies the project of the drag queens depicted in Paris is Burning as simultaneously transgenderist and transracialist in “Is Paris Burning?”, a chapter in her 1996 book Reel to Real: Race Sex, and Class at the Movies:
Within the world of the black gay drag ball culture she [Livingston] depicts, the idea of womanness and femininity is totally personified by whiteness. What viewers witness is not black men longing to impersonate or even to become like “real” black women but their obsession with an idealized fetishized vision of femininity that is white. Called out in the film by Dorian Carey [sic], who names it by saying no black drag queen of his day wanted to be Lena Horne, he makes it clear that the femininity most sought after, most adored, was that perceived to be the exclusive property of white womanhood.
But let us consider why, on the most basic level, this affinity exists.
As evidenced by their common prefix, it can be remarked that transgender and transracial peoples are fundamentally alike for one essential reason: they are in transition. One transitions from a gender; the other, from a race. Like drag performers, they also commit what is viewed as transgression by transcending the limitations socially imposed on their assigned identity.
There are some significant differences between the phenomena of gender and race transitioning. One is that the gender transition takes place within the course of a lifetime, affecting primarily the individual, while the racial transition described here is transgenerational, affecting collectivities such as clans and family units, as in the fictional examples of Peola or Neil Kingsblood.
Transgenerational transracialism is the story of coercive assimilation to white supremacist society, which explains why more members of the Afro-diasporic population in the U.S. now identify, or perhaps are identified by others, as “white” than as “black”. That is to say that, despite both the One Drop Rule and Cress Welsing’s notion of white genetic recessivity, so-called “interracial” sexual-reproductive relations (or “miscegenation”) have in fact caused more individuals among the U.S. population which is of varying degrees of mixed European and African ancestry to be identified as “white” (or “passing”?) than as Black. This is made possible by the white supremacist drive of bourgeois anti-culture, which also introduces “colorism” into the heart of the Black community. It seems more of a question of cultural assimilation than a would-be problem of “genetic drift”; the hegemonic white patrons of Western colonialism seemed to catch on symbolically, with many more Littles and Clays than Xs and Alis coming to predominate over the Afro-diasporic populace. However, this white supremacist push to transgenerationally assimilate “minorities” cannot be resolved with a superficial change in the way of thinking about racial identity, such as by merely instructing these white-passing, distantly Afro-diasporic masses to accept themselves as “genuinely” Black due to their existence being the direct result of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. That’s why it is also important to render cultural practices such as aesthetic skin bleaching taboo, and to diminish sentiments of racial fetishization of whiteness as a desired sex characteristic by giving due value and implementation to notions such as black pride and beautifulness. Only then will the current historically-based form of Transatlantic Racialized Slave and Master Social Classes discrimination be overcome. The hard cores (aka nucleos duros or asilis) of each national, or ethno-cultural, archetype will survive for some time in a mosaic fashion within the united global world economy, even as this develops into an environment of total cultural egalitarianism. What “white people” have to understand is that whiteness is not so much an ethno-cultural expression, but a tool of capitalist coercion which censors such expressions.
Some leftist writers implicitly suggest that Karl Marx himself was “transrace”. In “On the Social Ontology of ‘Race’ — Was Karl Marx White? And Is He?” Steve Darcy at The Public Autonomy Project essentially argues that, given 19th century Europe’s racial othering of Ashkenazic Jewry, Marx was perceived as racially “Other” in his day, but given the near-consensus among 21st century individuals that Ashkenazic Jewry is encapsulated by “whiteness”, Marx has therefore become a transracial subject, having been non-white during his own lifetime while nevertheless being now (rightly?) considered a “dead white male”. I would, however, contest the notion that Marx’s epitaph should read “dead white male”, any more than Dorian Corey’s ought to, because if we accept the previous half of this argument (i.e., that Marx was perceived as racially “other” during the 19th century, considered as something analogous to what might today be called “a person of color”), then he should still be understood, as a historical personage, with that fact in mind. The matter is further complicated by the fact that Karl Marx was perhaps of African descent, his family having called him by the nickname “the Moor” due to “his dark complexion”.
Darcy’s consideration of Karl Marx as transrace is analogous to the way in which drag queens such as Dorian Coreymay be perceived by ignorant early 21st century viewers of Paris is Burning as belonging to another “race” than the one with which they were identified by populaces of late 20th century New York (or by more knowledgeable individuals of our time who are aware of the historico-cultural context in which the film’s personages lived). In this perspective, it is clear that transracialism exhibits a high degree of contingency upon historico-contextualization. Ironically, the Youtube commenter who thought Dorian Corey was a white person, seemed to somehow discount the very point Corey tries to make in the film about the other drag queens identifying more with the white Marilyn Monroe than the black Lena Horne. Corey seemed to view the transracial aspect of the drag queens’ aspiration as pathological. Corey informs us that, “In a ballroom you can be anything you want”, but signals disdainfulness for the fact that most wanted to be white. This white supremacist drive has other bizarre manifestations, such as a whole sub-genre of hypnotic videos, also available on Youtube, featuring low-frequency and binaural sounds to help individuals “get pale white skin”(trigger warning: deeply unsettling).
Let’s return now briefly to the previously mentioned issue of the divide which exists among and/or between the members and supporters of LGBTQIA+ communities and a certain type of women’s movement activist labelled, usually by critics of this line, as the “trans-exclusive radical feminist”.
An interesting selection of facts begins to emerge when we cross-analyze LGBTQIA+ discourses and so-called “TERF” discourses, along with those of another group often allied with the latter, the “SWERF” (or, “Sex Workers Exclusive Radical Feminists”, another term which those to whom it is applied often deride as a stigmatic exonym, similar perhaps to calling advocates of reproductive rights “anti-life” instead of “pro-choice”). It appears that while transphobia can and does exist among homophiles, it is less likely, although not impossible, for homophobia to exist among transphiles. It is, on the other hand, still quite possible that misogyny exists among transphilic homophiles. We get this sense of homophilic transphobia a bit in Paris is Burning, when some of the gay drag queens vehemently dispute the notion that they would become “girls” or “women”. In this light, the ’80s NYC gay community involved in the ball and voguing scene might be seen as sexually fueling the capitalist sex trafficking trade, because these transgender and gay male drag queens served to increase the liberation of individuals from the sex economic repression of the moral mainstream of society, which in turn liberalized and enhanced the sexual marketplace, the figure of the trans-woman scarcely separable from the trans-woman-philic straight male sex commodifier, whom members of the heteronormative society deride as homosexual, not accepting the trans-woman as a “real” woman, whom the “TER” feminists chastise for re-inforcing gender roles as opposed to transcending them.
The TERF and SWERF critique of “transgender-ism” thus replicates the critique of certain social justice advocates against Rachel Doležal’s brand of “transracialism”; if the goal is to abolish gender, then the goal is surely to abolish race as well. This proposes a bit of a problem however because we could anticipate that different tensions might arise from the proposal to mold all of the world’s peoples into some pan-human descendent kin. If we take the Noel Ignatievian notion of “racial abolitionism” at face value, that we must “abolish the white race”, there is a real tension between, on the one hand, the idea that this racial abolitionism is largely metaphorical, and that by superficially changing our ways of thinking and behaving, we remove our socially constructed racial identifications although the pan-human descendants will continue to display a range of physiognomies relatively similar to that which exists now, and on the other hand, the idea that privileged sections of “First World” populaces will need to be deported en masse to more egalitarian environments in the so-called “Global South”, where the formerly privileged are likely to perceive egalitarianism as social subordination until the consciousness of their descendants has been altered to fully accept the abolition of white supremacy. If we accept the One-Drop Rule-esque Color-Confrontation Theory of Frances Cress Welsing, then we must admit that the transition of humanity’s descendants to a pan-human kinship will preserve human blackness while eradicating whiteness. The premise of this proposition (that the abolition of racism, combined with white genetic recessivity, results in the abolition of an oppressive social construct disguised as an ethno-cultural group known as “white people” but not in the abolition of “black people”) should perhaps be reconsidered, because it forms the entire basis of anti-miscegenationist hysteria and the neo-Nazi ethos.
The “Homosexuality” of White Supremacist Thought and Behavior
A bitter irony of the white supremacist (also known as “America First-ist”) and/or neo-Nazi worldview is that Nazism, or white racism in general, is actually fundamentally premised on Homosexuality. I know this is a startling claim, but I will explain why this is so in the text which follows.
Nazism creates the sexual fetish of race, proclaiming the Aryan-on-Aryan action needed to create a HOMO-genous racial community, a volk based on the HOMO-sexual love which one Aryan man feels for one Aryan woman, and vice versa. Now that we have established Nazism as a sort of homosexual ideology, we can also observe that it nevertheless incorporates heterosexuality on the gender plane of desire. This contradiction is possible because semi-autonomous planes of sexual desire rely on many basic features of the human body and identity which can be exploited for the Twoness principle: masculinity, femininity, blackness, whiteness. The only difference between the gender and racial planes of sexual desire though is that, gender being historically and culturally linked to sex (and until the emergence of gender theory, essentially synonymous), gender preference in sexual orientation cannot be rightly considered a “fetish”, while sexual orientations axed around preferences with regard to the race or ethnicity of potential sexual partners are fetishistic, because ethnicity is not an intrinsically sexual feature, or at least not linked to sex in the same way as gender. Nevertheless, the reproduction of racial identity groupings (e.g. “white people”) relies on sexual reproduction, so the anti-miscegenationist, the white supremacist, nationalist, neo-Nazi, or “alt rightist” sexualizes white skin and other physical features associated with pseudoscientific “white” racial identity, turning these features into sex characteristics. The emergence of the term “cuckservative” or “cuck” as a neo-Nazi or alt-right insult for rival white nationalists (or rather, conservative U.S. nationalists/American patriots who just so happen to be white, such as Jeb Bush, for example) who do not embrace anti-miscegenationism, which “[alludes] to a genre of porn in which passive white husbands watch their wives have sex with black men” also demonstrates the sexually fetishistic nature of this ideology’s fixations.
Culturally, an important divide within the right-wing white people community exists between advocates of Christian identity, who believe that “white people” are “a lost tribe of Israel”, and those such as Augustus Sol Invictus, Varg Vikernes, etc. who reject “Judaeo-Christianity”, embracing instead efforts to construct a new Eurocentric pseudo-spirituality by appropriating aspects of the pagan mythologies of pre-Christian Europe, sometimes combined with Satanism–(there are also those such as Michael Aquino and Richard Spencer who do the same thing but, in an even more blatantly culturally misappropriative manner, construct their Eurocentric pseudo-spiritualities around African, namely Kemetic, mythology [See: “Temple of Set” and “Cult of Kek”]). This can be quite revealing about the racially fetishistic homosexual nature of white supremacists, because the ancient peoples of the arbitrarily delineated landmass known today as “Europe” were known for valorizing homosexual relations. In Plato’s Symposium (circa 380 BC), the Ancient Greek man Pausanias, known for being the lover of the male poet Agathon, distinguishes between two forms of love.
Pausanias maintained that there exist:
(1) Common Love, or Popular Love, which occurs between a man and a woman, and
(2) Celestial Love, which is homosexual and exclusively male.
In Ancient Greek culture, the hegemonic belief was that men were superior to women, and therefore the homosexual love between two superior, male beings was superior to, and spiritually more powerful than heterosexual love, occurring between a superior and an inferior being (i.e. a man and a woman). Nazism inherits this same paradigm, sublimating only one minor aspect of it (transferring the operation from the gender plane of sexual attraction to the racial plane of sexual fetishism), in considering racially homosexual unions of white couples superior to the racially heterosexual unions between members of the so-called “master race” and the supposedly “inferior races”. In the modern iteration, this form of homosexuality is encouraged through the policies of white supremacist leaders such as Obama, who deported more foreigners from the United States than any other president, and Trump, whose recent short-lived ban on millions of racially “othered” foreigners from the possibility of entering the United States served to reinforce diminution of the chances that the insular people of the Fortress-like white supremacist state will encounter “inferior” peoples and procreate with them.
Another indication of late-stage Nazism’s indebtedness to the supremacist ideal of Celestial Love is hinted at in the former’s advocacy of transracialism. The neo-Nazi David Myatt, founder and predominant theorist of the eugenics-cum-human sacrifice advocating Satanic cult called “the Order of Nine Angles”–analysed in my treatise “What is Net-Centric Warfare?”–calls for the transformation of Homo sapiens into something he dubs “Homo Galactica”, a so-called “master race”. Like Pausanias’ Celestial Love, Myatt’s Homo Galactica advocates supremacist unions and alludes to outer space, suggesting a “heavenly” outcome for those who engage the superior sexual practice. Only the gender supremacist aspect of “Celestial Love” has been swapped for racial supremacism in the “Homo Galactica” master race fantasy.
The appearance of homophobia among white supremacists is a point of tension, and perhaps an Achilles’ heel to their ideology, because, like the white-passing characters in Kingsblood Royal and Imitation of Life, the exposition of the homosexual genesis of their doctrine may inspire terror in the neo-Nazi psyche, threatening to bring it shame and embarrassment. The fascist repression of homosexuality expressed through homophobia and anti-LGBT bigotry has traditionally been, in the final analysis, deemed necessary in order to sublimate the drive of “standard” homosexuality (especially male-on-male “Celestial Love”) into the racial (white-on-white) homosexuality required for the fulfillment of the “Fourteen Words” (i.e., the neo-Nazi ethos). In this case (in which the fulfillment of modern Christian white racial homosexuality is predicated upon the sublimation of ancient pagan gender homosexuality), the elimination of the homophilia taboo from the gender plane of desire may erode in part the basis for coercing individuals into compliance with the white supremacist value of homophilia on the racial plane of desire.
On the other hand, the recent attempt by sections of the far-right to give neo-Nazism a facelift not only by rebranding it as the “alt-right”, but also taking a slight step back from machismo and “traditional” heterosexual masculinity (e.g. confluence of the alt-right with so-called “beta” masculinity, or the emergence of misogynistic, anti-feminist “men’s rights activist [MRA]” gay men) is revealing of a rapprochement between neo-Nazism and homosexuality, a fact which has not gone unnoticed by many of those who have begun to study this iteration of “information age” neo-Nazism. The attempt of sections of the alt-right to revive the ancient principle of male supremacist “Celestial Love” is another instance of recuperation and fascist subversion, capitalizing on advances made by the Left in the sphere of gay rights to serve oppression by attempting to force a realignment of gay men to stand on the side of the oppressors, in the U.S. military and corporate world, alongside adherents of white male bourgeois supremacy. Still, “traditional” white supremacy’s basis in racial homosexuality can easily lead white supremacists of the more “traditional” (anti-gay) variety to slip into practices which would be perceived as “homosexual” in the common understanding of that term. In that regard, the instauration of a “Celestial Love”-grounded white male supremacist movement, whose embryo can be located within the emergent neo-Nazi alt-right is a natural ideological development, making sense from the standpoint of dialectical materialism. This happens because the fetishistic sexualization of white skin, a non-sex trait which has been transformed into a sex trait within the white supremacist ideological framework, leads the white nationalist to be constantly in search of desirable sex characteristics in potential brethren with whom he seeks to form reactionary political movements to ensure the continued sexual reproduction of the so-called “white race”. The singular devotion to the ideal of whiteness, combined with the de-valuation of feminism common in white supremacist circles, leads the male neo-Nazis to view whiteness tout court as the primary object of desire, a sex characteristic of unmatched importance.
Although it is true that the most vehement producers of homophobic discourses almost always simultaneously grapple with the repression of their own latent homosexual desire, it would be incredibly misguided to invoke the openly racially homosexual and consequently latently gay nature of white supremacists to augment homophobic discourse by trying to dress up anti-LGBT bigotry as antifascist. Our praxis must incorporate the consideration that within the fascist camp there exist two antagonistic premises, which must both be combatted: the homophobia which racially homosexual Nazism has traditionally favored (seen for example in the fact that gays were also victimized by the Holocaust) as well as the misogynistic gender homophilia of the pre-Christian Europeans (e.g. Pausanias) to which the modern Eurocentric, racially sex homophilic ideology is indebted and reconciling with.
A tragic setback for gay liberation occurred in the early part of the 20th century in part because of the confusion aroused by Nazism’s reconciliation–then in its infancy–with the male supremacist homosexuality valorized by pre-Christian Europeans. The nascent Soviet Union had already begun establishing gay rights at this time, but the homosexual militarism of Ernst Röhm, Hitler’s closest friend and a gay man, and many of the Nazis at the highest echelons of the political hierarchy of 1930s Germany, provided ample fodder for homophobes to slander the gay community of the young Soviet Union as fascist sympathizers, inhibiting thus progress in lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and questioning spheres as well. This setback for the social and sexual revolution under the Bolsheviks stands as ample evidence of the deterioration of the quality of the revolutionary vanguard hegemony within the Communist political party under the homophobic leadership of Joseph Stalin, who directed many politically and ideologically illiterate people to enroll as members of what was meant to be the most advanced segment of the populace in terms of social woke-ness, the Communist Party.
Transgender and transrace individuals both must deal with similar emotions. Shame and terror are key among these. Transrace characters like Sinclair Lewis’s Neil Kingsblood and Fannie Hurst’s Peola on the one hand are terrorized by the fear of being made to feel disgrace and shame through having their identification with a stigmatized racial grouping exposed, while transrace individuals like Rachel Doležal perhaps feel similar emotions in being exposed as identifying with Black culture despite lack of Transatlantic Afro-diasporic ancestry. It hardly needs to be said why transgender individuals are also terrorized, given these transphobic societies we live in, which double terrorization for trans people of color, such as the unjustly incarcerated CeCe McDonald.
In terms of trans-modernity, the neo-fin de siècle society depicted in Paris is Burning seems to sit at an interesting threshold. In a way, late 20th century New York was like The Matrix, waiting to be “red-pilled” by–you guessed it–“Nine / Eleven”! After 9/11, everything changed. Mechanized police forces began to pummel the alter-globalizationists with lacrimogen–oh no–wait, they did that before 9/11… Ah well, 9/11 accelerated shit, allowing CIA director Bush’s son to enact some slick new imperial machinations. Similarly, while trans-modernity emphasizes the notion that we really shouldn’t get too carried away with trying to pinpoint the location of a postmodern rupture with modernity, the trans- affinities the film highlights do nevertheless resonate in an uncanny way on any historical timeline that might be constructed with them in mind. Transmodernity is suggestive of a process moving beyond modernity in a way that the notion of postmodernism falsely locates in the past. Similarly, transgenderism and transracialism suggest processes, not necessarily of transitioning from one race or one gender into another, but of moving beyond binary traps. Transracialism and transgenderism need not be predicated upon the maintenance of gendered and racialized core “types”, such as the “African” and the “European” or the “gentleman” and the “lady”.
If we apply the same bifurcating logic which premises transraciality and transgenderism to the title of Livingston’s documentaryitself, its complement must be that Kinshasa is Cool, because Kinshasa is the second most populated city of the French-speaking world.These form thus the yin and yang of La Francophonie. The Eurocentricity of this equation, erasing the presence of Lingala and other indigenous Congolese tongues, resonates with the tendency which certain critics of the transracialism and transgenderism depicted in Paris is Burning (such as bell hooks) claim exists for these to be too soft on white supremacy and patriarchy abolitionism, being happy to simply gain privilege and power by transitioning from black to white, from sad and destitute poor gay boy to spoiled rich straight girl. The resonance of Paris is Burning is felt in the late period with musical hits like “Ni**as in Paris” by Jay Z and Kanye West. The city of Paris seems to evoke in the Western, American mind in some ways a liberatory and also aristocratic lifeway, with sexualized and racialized as well as Orientalist aspects, as in the lyrics of one of the most common variants of “The Streets of Cairo” (i.e., “There’s a place in France, where the naked ladies dance”).
The question of transraciality also arises in the Rromani community with regard to the relationship between groups of Rromani individuals contrastively characterized as Kashtalo and Pakivalo by some Rroma, such as blogger Cîrpaci Marian Nuțu, who describes this relationship in terms evocative of antagonism or parasitism. This could be an interesting starting point for another comparative analysis, given the similarities in the development of racism in slave societies during early capitalist modernity on both sides of the Atlantic. Whereas the systematic enslavement of Rroma had already taken root in the Ottoman-dominated provinces of Wallachia and Moldavia (which formed the basis of the modern Romanian state) during the pre-Columbian period, the formation of the Black Atlantic identity was several centuries retarded in comparison to that of Rromani identity, giving Rromani identity more time to be attacked with racialist goals of diffusion and dissipation. These efforts to eradicate Rromani identity are the source of the name Kashtalo (meaning “wooden” in Rromanes [the Rromani language]) in reference to persons of Rromani ethnicity who do not have knowledge of the Rromani language. During the period of enslavement, Rromani castes were often delineated occupationally, with wood-working Rroma being one caste which stopped speaking Rromanes, so the Pakivale rroms, who did manage to keep speaking Rromanes, are regarded by some as more “authentic” Rroma than the Kashtale, whose transraciality pushes them to the verge, if not past the point, of becoming gadze (non-Rroma). Cîrpaci, the previously cited blogger, accuses Rromani NGO’s of underrepresenting the Pakivale, and overrepresenting the Kashtale, whom he insinuates exercise a deceptive degree of fluidity when it comes to either dissimulating or owning up to Rromani or “Gypsy/tsigan” identity based on convenience.
Future social and political movements are likely to necessarily be inclusive of individuals whose subjectivities are shaped by a variety of trans* processes operating in the realms not only of sexuality and gender, but also intergenerational and transgenerational ones operating in the sphere of ethnic or racial belonging, while in the same time providing space for a variety of perspectives informed by both critical race theory and gender critical theory, including those critical of the kind of “transracialism” exemplified by the case of Rachel Doležal, which is not a transgenerational phenomenon but occurs within the lifetime of an individual. Just as the transformation of one thing into another, like Marxian dialectics, requires room for contradiction, so too should social movements be big enough to, in their unity, house contradictions. The goal of the political left is to usher in the demise of capitalist wage slavery and imperialist oppression via solidarity among individuals, to transit the final phases of modernity, and we begin to think forward to our collective transcendence into a communist civilization whose quality is quintessentially postmodern. Meanwhile, in this transmodern era of socialism we remain haunted by the outputs of modernity which live and die all around us in the same time.
ALL WORKS CITED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PRINCIPLE OF FAIR USE.
**Update, 17 September 2017** : After publishing this article, I received both positive and negative feedback from persons in online spaces dedicated to both transgender as well as gender critical or “trans critical” communities. Some in the former were averse to so much as entertaining the thought of a trans*-informed analysis of Rachel Doležal, while some in the latter did not appreciate that, despite having used scare-quotes to signal a degree of skepticism when introducing the term, I referenced a discourse as being known as “trans exclusive” or “TERF”. I have edited the text to better reflect that, not unlike the use of “trans cult” to describe trans* activism and culture, this term is understood by many of those to whom it is applied to constitute a term of abuse, in addition to clarifying a couple of thoughts in the conclusion of this piece.