The ‘theoretician’ of America’s extreme right and author of the book that was claimed to have inspired the Oklahoma City bombing
Thursday July 25, 2002
William Pierce, the leading ideologue of America’s neo-Nazi movement, who published a book that inspired the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995, has died of cancer aged 68. A trained physicist, Pierce founded the National Alliance, the most successful, wealthiest and best-organised hate group in the US, which he ran from a building on his 400 acres of grounds near Hillsboro, West Virginia. The movement never had more than about 1,500 members, but Pierce’s influence extended well beyond his membership.
He launched a “white power” music business called Resistance Records, which appealed to the skinhead audience and made an estimated $1.3m a year, had formed a publishing firm, Vanguard Books, and produced a monthly paper called the National Vanguard.
His best-known product was The Turner Diaries, a self-published book he wrote in 1978 under the pseudonym Andrew Macdonald.
The book is set in the 1990s and tells of a neo-Nazi guerrilla group that blows up the FBI headquarters in Washington after the Day of the Rope, in which “traitorous” white people are hanged from lampposts.
It was favourite reading for Timothy McVeigh, the Gulf war veteran executed for the Oklahoma City bombing, in which 168 people died. Prosecutors described the book as a “blueprint” detailing the kind of bomb McVeigh used. A passage from it was found in his car after his arrest.
Pierce inspired other hate crimes, including a wave of violent robberies and murders during the 1980s carried out by the Order, another white supremacist splinter group, and the machine-gun murder of the Jewish radio talk show host Alan Berg in Denver in 1984.
He formed a group called the National Youth Alliance in 1970 and believed in recruiting from the young. As well as his record company, he sponsored video games – one was called Ethnic Cleansing – and he quickly realised the potential of the internet, with a flurry of websites promoting his racist rantings.
A struggle for dominance of the extreme right in America is likely to follow Pierce’s death, but nobody seems likely to match his canny opportunism and powers of organisation.
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