The Fame, 7

WLP

From The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds:
An Up-Close Portrait of William Pierce

by Robert Griffin


 
“I’m William Pierce. I’ve been waiting for you.”

Pierce looked to me to be around sixty years old. He is a couple inches taller than I am, which would make him about 6’3” or so. He has a large head and graying and thinning conventionally cut hair parted on the left side. His hair was long enough so that it curled up in the back. He is a bit hunched, and his head nestles down into his shoulders and thrusts forward. What stood out to me about his face were his large forehead and mouth. His face is unlined, his nose is straight and unremarkable, and his small ears protrude some. His eyes were blue behind the thick lenses of the conservative plastic-framed glasses he had on.

That day, Pierce had on a jeans jacket over a dark blue T-shirt with a pocket in which he had what appeared to be a white index card. His faded blue jeans hung straight down in the back in the way they do with older men. He had on brown workboots. Around his waist was a pistol belt. A holstered weapon was on his right and more to the back than to the side. The weapon wasn’t visible because he had pulled his T-shirt over it.

Pierce’ s basic appearance is long and lean, but when I shook hands with him I was taken by the size and strength of his hands and forearms which showed beneath his rolled-up jacket sleeves. His handshake was firm and confident. I had read that Pierce, as it was phrased, “doesn’t have a very dynamic presence.” That certainly wasn’t the impression I was getting. He had the air of somebody important and as being the kind of person who very much fills up the space they are in.

“Come on in,” Pierce said, motioning with his left hand toward the building to my right. I turned and for the first time got a good look at the National Alliance headquarters building. It is two stories tall and perhaps sixty feet wide.

The most prominent feature of the building is a ten-foot-high dark brown symbol attached to the building above the door. I couldn’t tell whether it was made of metal or wood. It looks something like a Christian cross except that the crossbar is longer and instead of going straight across from nine o’clock to three o’clock, it is as if it were cut at the mid-point and the two pieces, still attached to the vertical bar, are pointed upward toward ten-thirty and one-thirty. I later learned that this is called a Life Rune and that it is the symbol for the National Alliance. I remember having an emotional charge that first time I took in this Life Rune image, so large and dominating. Especially in this setting, so removed from everywhere, it seemed alien, something out of Brave New World or 1984

Pierce has a Ph.D in physics, and this room is where he goes to get away from it all. One other thing on the second floor: a television set next to the back wall amid boxes of books. I believe it is the only one on the property. It turns out that Pierce and those around him are down on television, seeing it as a reality-distorting and mind-warping force in the hands of their adversaries. Pierce isn’t about to get the cable, and the only station that reaches this remote area is an NBC affiliate—barely reaches, the picture is snowy and doesn’t qualify as being in color. Pierce is a faithful watcher of the NBC evening news. As far as I know, that is the extent of his television viewing other than tapes friends and followers send him, and I don’t believe anyone around him watches television at all.

The Fame, 6

WLP

From The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds:
An Up-Close Portrait of William Pierce

by Robert Griffin


 
Pocahontas County, West Virginia, where William Pierce has lived since 1985, is a mountainous area in the southeast part of the state. There are trees everywhere in Pocahontas County: black walnut, hickory, oak, eastern poplar, apple, pear, red maple, sugar maple, and buckeye. Pocahontas County is shaped like a bowling pin tipped to the right and is about fifty miles from top to bottom and thirty miles across at its widest. Nine thousand people live in the county’s nine hundred square miles. The county seat and largest town is Marlinton, with a population of eleven hundred. Pierce’s land is at Mill Point (population fifty) in the center of the base of the “bowling pin.” His three hundred forty-six acres go up the side of Big Spruce Knob, which is between Black Mountain and Stony Center Mountain.

In a letter to me before I came to visit him that first time, Pierce had this to say about where he lived:

This area is off “the beaten path” in that it has no industry other than small farms, no transportation hubs, no transient population, and very little traffic, pollution, or crime. Although it is mountainous and very beautiful, the lack of tourist facilities other than a ski lodge in the northern part of the county leads to a blessedly small number of tourists and vacationers.

With the exception of four or five non-Whites imported by criminally insane Christian groups, the population is entirely White and sparse. The early settlers were Scotch- Irish, German, Dutch, and English, and a handful of family names—McNeill, Sharp, Pritt—dominate the telephone directory. It is extremely conservative in resisting outside influences, although television and the churches (which, unfortunately, have great influence here) are doing their worst to bring the New World Order to Pocahontas County.

The Fame, 5

WLP

From The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds:
An Up-Close Portrait of William Pierce

by Robert Griffin


 
As the days and weeks went along, I noticed that Pierce seemed to look forward to our sessions, which were from 7:00 to 9:00 in the evenings after his long workday. It was at his suggestion that we talk consecutive evenings rather than the three times a week I originally had in mind…

Pierce is concerned with it all and how everything fits together—history, philosophy, politics, economics, the media, education, men-women identities and relationships, child-raising practices, and approaches to leisure—and that offered me the broad canvas, the inclusive frame of reference, I wanted. I didn’t think the fact that Pierce approaches these concerns from a position on the extreme end of the ideological spectrum was a drawback, because one of the ways to make better sense of what is going on at the core of American life, which is what I really want to do, is to contrast it with what is happening on its outermost edge…

I find Pierce to be an absolutely fascinating character and his story to be a whale of a tale. And besides Pierce, in the course of putting this book together I came across a number of other fascinating—which is not to say admirable—characters, among them, George Lincoln Rockwell, Robert Lloyd, Revilo P. Oliver, Francis Parker Yockey, Savitri Devi, Elizabeth Dilling, Bob Mathews, and William Gayley Simpson. This cast of characters and their world was all new to me, and I have had the treat of a terrific, real-life movie for the year and a half I have been working on this book. I found that that alone has been enough to keep me going.

Published in: on August 15, 2015 at 5:32 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags:

The Fame, 4

WLP

From The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds:
An Up-Close Portrait of William Pierce

by Robert Griffin

 
In late 1997 I wrote Pierce a letter broaching the idea of writing a book about him and his ideas. In the letter, I said:

I’m not talking about anything authorized, that is to say, where explicitly or implicitly I have the job of fronting for you, making you look good, selling you. But at the same time, I wouldn’t be aiming to demonize you or set you up as a straw man to serve some agenda of my own. I also don’t want to play a game academics often play [I am a university professor], which is to stand above their subjects, as it were, and patronizingly critique them and make themselves look good in the process. What I do want to do is focus on the issues you raise and the ideas you affirm and your current activities within the context of the events and circumstances of your life, and to present it as objectively as I can. Whatever else comes through, I want who you are and what you are and where you have come from put out there for readers straight and true. I am not interested in exposes or inside journalism. I am interested in where this culture and society is heading and how we live our individual lives, and what you and what you represent have to do with that.

Pierce wrote back:

Your idea is an intriguing one. I am not convinced that the things I have accomplished to date merit a biography—although I always am trying to acquire more merit. From a practical point of view, if you succeed in getting a biography of me published and it is not a hatchet job, it should be helpful. Although you might be subject to pressure from your publisher to produce a book fitting a certain stereotype of me and my message. Anyway, it is a project that I am willing to discuss with you.

I wrote back to Pierce that I wasn’t planning on writing a full-scale, detailed biography, bringing in multiple sources and perspectives and all. Rather, I was thinking of something akin to what goes on between a subject posing for a portrait and an artist. That is to say, the book would essentially be about him and me: the way he presents himself to me and the way I make sense of and render that presentation. I said I wanted to hear him talk about his life growing up and what he has done as an adult. I wanted to learn about the circumstances in society and the people and experiences and ideas that have had an impact on him. I wanted to become familiar with the books that have made a difference to him—I’ d like to read them if I haven’t—and see if I can learn why they affected him as they did. I wanted to look at how his public life and private life have affected one another. I wanted to do those things in order to paint a picture of him, so to speak. So a portrait would be a more accurate way of referring to what I had in mind than a biography.

And, really, I said in the letter, I am not setting out to do a hatchet job on you. I am not intending to write a judgmental book; rather, I want to be a vehicle that will allow readers the chance to get a good look at you and to decide for themselves what they see. I told Pierce I would stay away from slanting or channeling people’ s impression of him by tacking negative labels on him—neo-Nazi, anti-Semite, bigot, hater. However, he had to understand that after hearing what he has to say and reviewing what he has done with his life, readers may well decide that, indeed, those labels suit him. And as for publishers pushing me to fit him into a certain stereotype—he had mentioned that possibility—I told him that I was not going to bend reality for anybody.

I told Pierce that I wanted to meet him in person—I hadn’t at that point—and talk more about this project and see if it seemed as if the two of us could work together. I said I thought a couple of hours with one another should give us a good sense of whether we ought to keep exploring this idea.

Pierce said that was all right with him, and I went to see him in West Virginia. This was in the fall of 1997. We talked for two hours in the afternoon at his office in the National Alliance headquarters building on his three hundred forty-six acre plot of land. Basically, we got acquainted. He asked me about what things were like at the university where I am on the faculty, and we talked about university politics for a time. I thought the session went well. Pierce seemed open and unthreatened—I had expected more wariness, which would have been understandable—and he was congenial and expansive. At the end of that first meeting, we decided that I should come back and spend a full work day at the property.

Published in: on August 12, 2015 at 11:54 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags:

The Fame, 3

WLP

From The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds:
An Up-Close Portrait of William Pierce

by Robert Griffin

 
In addition to the weekly broadcasts and book-selling activities, Pierce writes the copy for a members-only monthly National Alliance newsletter. There is also the irregularly published glossy magazine, National Vanguard, which the ADL [Note of the Ed.: a Jewish hate group] report says attempts to intellectualize the Alliance’s racist and anti-Semitic agenda. The highbrow tone of National Vanguard contrasts sharply with the cruder, poorly-edited propaganda materials of other extremist groups and heightens the appeal the National Alliance has among those whom the report refers to as “better-educated bigots.”

Explosion of Hate notes that other murderers and terrorists besides Timothy McVeigh appear to have been inspired by Pierce’s violence-filled writings and pronouncements. In the 1980s a gang calling itself the “Order,” after the elite paramilitary unit in The Turner Diaries, went on a crime spree which included bombing a synagogue, murdering a Jewish talk show host, counterfeiting, and robbing over four million dollars in an armored car heist. The Order’s leader, Robert Mathews, was a member of the National Alliance and recruiter for the Alliance who once spoke at one of the organization’s national conventions. Reportedly, Mathews told people that he was intent on being the catalyst for an uprising against the System like the one described in Pierce’s book.

Mathews, who was killed by FBI agents in a shoot-out, has become a martyr and cult hero among right wing fringe elements and a model for others who would follow his lead. The ADL report cites the statement of then-publisher George Burdi in the skinhead-oriented magazine Resistance invoking Mathews’ memory in the course of singing the praises of the National Alliance. Said Burdi: “The National Alliance is clearly the most forward-looking and progressive racialist organization in the world today, and it is no wonder that Robert Mathews endorsed them so wholeheartedly.” Another example, authorities say a white supremacist group calling itself the Aryan Republican Army and led by a man called Peter Langan committed twenty-two bank robberies and bombings across Midwest between 1992 and 1996. Langan praised Robert Mathews and instructed his viewers to “learn from Bob.” Not surprisingly The Turner Diaries was required reading in the Aryan Republican Army.

The ADL report lists a number of recent crimes that can be linked in some way to Pierce and the National Alliance. Among them:

  • In March of 1998, Dennis McGiffin and two others were charged with conspiracy to possess and make machine guns. FBI agents testified that McGiffin and the others were influenced by The Turner Diaries. They planned to form a “New Order” and talked of, among other things, bombing state capitols and post offices and poisoning public water supplies with cyanide.
  • In 1997, Todd Vanbiber, a National Alliance adherent in Winter Park, Florida, pleaded guilty to illegally constructing and possessing explosives and was sentenced to six-and-one-half years in prison. At a sentencing hearing in October 1997, a cellmate testified that Vanbiber admitted he planned to use the bombs against African Americans attending Fourth of July celebrations. A Federal complaint against Vanbiber alleged that he had met with William Pierce at his West Virginia compound for two hours and while there donated one thousand dollars to the National Alliance and purchased seven hundred dollars worth of its literature.
  • In December 1995, a black couple was gunned down near Fort Bragg in North Carolina in what prosecutors called a racially motivated killing. James Burmeister and Malcolm Wright, members of the 82nd Airborne Division, were convicted of the murders and sentenced to life in prison. Burmeister and Wright reportedly read National Alliance propaganda. Prior to these events, the National Alliance had been attempting to attract members among U.S. Army personnel at Fort Bragg. One of its activitists, Robert Hunt, a soldier and recruiter for the Alliance, rented a billboard and used it to post an advertisement and local phone number for the organization.
  • In April of 1996, Larry Wayne Shoemaker killed one African American and injured seven others in Jackson, Mississippi. According to his ex-wife, Shoemaker first encountered National Alliance propaganda in the mid-1980s, when he borrowed The Turner Diaries from a friend. She said her husband wasn’t the same after he read Pierce’s novel. “It was like an eye-opener for him,” his wife said. “There was a distinct difference in him.” Shoemaker soon began subscribing to Pierce’s monthly publications.

The Fame, 2

WLP

From The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds:
An Up-Close Portrait of William Pierce

by Robert Griffin


 
In William Pierce’s novel, The Turner Diaries, the events that set off the anti-government terrorist acts of Earl Turner were a series of brutish government raids on gun owners following the passage of federal legislation outlawing the private ownership of firearms. Turner reacted to the raids by blowing up a federal building with a fuel-oil and fertilizer bomb concealed in a truck. Not only was the composition of the fictional bomb almost exactly the same as the one Timothy McVeigh constructed and detonated, it was also almost exactly the same weight. It seems very probable that McVeigh saw parallels between the government raid on the Branch Davidians in Waco to enforce anti-gun laws and the gun raids portrayed in The Turner Diaries, and that McVeigh responded to what he saw as the unwarranted and violent assaults on gun owners in Waco the same way that the protagonist in Pierce’s book, Earl Turner, had responded to the heavy-handed crackdowns on gun owners by agents of the fictional federal government.

Anti-Defamation League [Note of the Ed.: A Jewish hate group] sources have reported that just days before the bombing, McVeigh mailed an envelope to his sister in Florida containing copies of the cover and selected pages from The Turner Diaries. He included a note that said she should be sure to read the back cover. On the back cover of The Turner Diaries at the top in bold black letters is the question, “What will you do when they come to take your guns?” And then the answer: “The patriots fight back with a campaign of sabotage and terror.” When McVeigh’s sister learned of her brother’s arrest in connection with the bombing, she burned the contents of the envelope.

Incidentally, McVeigh’s accomplice in the bombing, Terry Nichols, also may have been influenced by the writings of William Pierce. Federal agents found a copy of another of Pierce’s novels, Hunter, in Nichols’ home. They saw few other books in the house. Hunter, written in the late 1980s, is Pierce’s follow-up to The Turner Diaries. It recounts the exploits of Oscar Yeager, who tries to “cleanse” America by killing first interracial couples and then Jews.

In the weeks immediately preceding the bombing, McVeigh stayed at the Imperial Hotel off Route 66 near Kingman, Arizona. Several sources have reported that between April 5th and April 11th McVeigh made seven calls to a message center operated by a radical right-wing organization called the National Alliance. The chairman of the National Alliance is William Pierce. Two of the seven calls allegedly were patched through to Pierce’s unlisted number in West Virginia where he is headquartered.

The Turner Diaries was the very first piece of evidence introduced by the prosecution at McVeigh’ s trial in Denver. During the trial, several of McVeigh’s friends told the court that he had mailed them copies of the book along with a note encouraging them to read it. One of them, Kyle Kraus, a buddy from McVeigh’ s army days, testified that when he learned of the Oklahoma City bombing, he was immediately reminded of scenes from the book and grabbed the copy McVeigh had sent him and took it to the local FBI office.

McVeigh’s first contact with The Turner Diaries came when he was in the army and ran across an advertisement for the book in the mail order section of the survivalist magazine, Soldier of Fortune. McVeigh ordered the book and according to those around him at the time awaited its arrival with eager anticipation. When the book finally arrived, McVeigh became obsessed with it, reports his roommate William Dilly. “He took it into the field and read it for three weeks straight,” Dilly said. “He said it was really wild and tried to get me to read it.” Another friend of McVeigh’s, Brandon Sticky, said that McVeigh read and re-read the book and was known for constantly carrying his well-thumbed copy of the small paperback around with him in his pocket.

After leaving the service, McVeigh sold The Turner Diaries at weekend gun shows, often for less than his own cost. Fellow gun-show merchants said it was as if the contents of the book were his religion and he were looking for converts. “Mostly, McVeigh’s fervor came from The Turner Diaries,” a gun collector who crossed paths with him said later. “He was its greatest publicist. He carried the book all the time. He sold it at the shows. He’d have a few copies in the cargo pocket of his cammies. They were supposed to be $10, but he’d sell them for $5.”

Apparently The Turner Diaries altered the course of Tim McVeigh’s life as well as the lives of thousands of people in Oklahoma City. And to the extent that the Oklahoma City bombing is a memorable event—and even, in ways that are not clear to us now, a significant event—William Pierce’s self-published novel has become part of the history of America.

The Fame, 1

WLP

From The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds:
An Up-Close Portrait of William Pierce

by Robert Griffin


 
 

Cattle die, and kinsmen die,
And so one dies oneself;
One thing I know that never dies:
The fame of a dead man’s deeds.

—Pre-Christian Norse poem.

 

PREFACE

It was a little after 7:00 p.m. on one of the pleasant summer evenings I had come to expect in the mountains of West Virginia. I was waiting for William Pierce in his cluttered, book-lined office in the National Alliance headquarters building. I had been living in this remote area on Pierce’s property for over two weeks at that point. When I had come to his office a couple of minutes before, I was surprised to find that Pierce wasn’t there. We were well into a series of interviews I was conducting with him in the evenings, and he’d always been here when I arrived. I assumed that something had held him up and that he would be along in a minute or two. I set up my tape recorder and went over the notes I had put together about the areas I wanted to explore during that night’s session.

I had just finished going through my notes when out of the corner of my eye I saw someone come in through the door to the left of where I was seated. It wasn’t Pierce but rather his new wife, with Pierce right behind her. That surprised me; always before, Pierce had been alone.

“Bob, could you and I talk after you talk with Bill?” Pierce’ s wife said in her halting, heavily-accented English and in her polite and gentle way. She had come from Eastern Europe to West Virginia less than a year before. She and Pierce had not met before she came, and after she was here only a month they married. Pierce’s wife is an attractive woman of about fifty I would guess, with auburn hair and very fair skin. She had taught art to children in her native country. I was taken by her calling him “Bill.” She was the only one who lived or worked on the property who did. To everyone else, including me, he was Dr. Pierce. She seemed on edge about something. She was usually smiling and upbeat, but not now.

“Oh, why don’t you two talk now,” Pierce interjected gruffly. “You don’t have to wait until later.”

With that, Pierce’s wife sat down on the nearest of a row of chairs that face Pierce’s desk. I was seated a couple of chairs away from the one she sat on. Pierce went around his desk and took a seat behind it.

There we were, the three of us. It was silent for a moment. There was tension in the air, but I had no idea what it was about.

Pierce’s wife turned and faced me. “I have something to ask of you,” she said. She seemed shaken.

“Is there something wrong?” I asked.

“I’m afraid,” she replied.

“Afraid?”

“Bill gets letters from people who say they are going to kill him. I was here for four months before I knew that. I didn’t know that!”

“You do look frightened,” I said.

“I’ve asked Bob [Bob DeMarais, an aide to Pierce] if something happens to Bill to help me return to my country.”

I didn’t know what to say, and up to that point Pierce hadn’t said anything.

“In your book,” she continued, “please don’t use my name or say where I am from. And please don’t show my picture. I am afraid something will happen to me if people know who I am.”

I said I didn’ t want to see her afraid like this, and that I would use some other name for her, and that I wouldn’t say what country she was from or use her picture.

“Thank you,” she said. “That is very nice of you.”

At this point, still seated, she dipped her hand into her pants pocket and pulled out a pistol. I jumped. “I carry this everywhere I go,” she said as she held the gun neck high in her right hand to display it to me.

I was speechless and stared at the gun.

“Don’t be waving that gun around, it’s loaded!” Pierce barked.

“You maybe think it is silly I have a gun,” she said to me, the pistol now in her lap. “But Bill wears a gun all the time. He has it right next to him when he goes to sleep.”

As a matter of fact, Pierce had a holstered weapon strapped to his waist at that very moment—I’d gotten used to that. I reiterated that I would protect her identity.

So I will call Pierce’s wife Irena in the book. It is the only name I have changed.