White Supremacists on the Red Planet

White Supremacists on the Red Planet August 11, 2018

I was fascinated by the recent New York Times article, “Inside the World of Racist Science Fiction.” Here’s an excerpt:

It is unlikely that Mr. Trump has read any of these books. But members of his staff undoubtedly have. His former aide Steve Bannon is a fan of “The Camp of the Saints” and refers to it often — in knowing, offhand ways that betray both his familiarity with racist literature and his awareness of his target audience’s reading habits. Another administration official, Julie Kirchner, was named ombudsman at the Customs and Border Protection after spending 10 years as the executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. That organization, which Southern Poverty Law Center has designated a hate group, was founded by John Tanton, who runs The Social Contract Press, which is the current publisher of “The Camp of the Saints.”

The point is not that there is a direct line between, say, “The Turner Diaries” and the Oval Office. Rather, it’s that the tropes that define the Trump administration’s rhetoric and policies — apocalyptic xenophobia, anti-Semitic conspiracies, racist fear-mongering — are also the tropes that define white-supremacist literature. To the hundreds of thousands of fans of Mr. Kendall, Ms. Williams and other writers, Mr. Trump must seem like a character out of racist central casting: a rule-breaking white knight who will stop at nothing to root out the conspiracies and take on their race’s enemies. No wonder the bond between Mr. Trump and the far right is so strong: Not only is he a hero out of their novels, but in supporting him, they have become heroes themselves.

Fiction can influence us in countless ways, and science fiction in particular serves to warn about the future and predict alternatives, whether good or evil. And whether they’re good or evil is in the eye of the reader. I’ve blogged before about science fiction as prophecy. Prophets did not just guess about a future world – their words and actions helped bring it into being. False prophets did likewise. These prophets of false gods are arguably more dangerous than the spokespeople of Ba’al were felt to be by religious reformers and revolutionaries in ancient Israel such as Elijah, Hosea, and Jeremiah…

Also about science fiction that fails to be inclusive, there was an interesting article recently about the fact that most science fiction fails to depict its spacecrafts and time machines as wheelchair accessible. If we don’t imagine accessibility as part of our future, what does it say about us?

There was also an article in The Guardian a couple of years ago about how to avoid taking our racism with us into space. See too an article by Ronnie Faulkner about racial integration in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ stories set on Mars.


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  • Phil Ledgerwood

    Davros excepted, there’s actually not a lot of portrayal of anyone with mobility challenges in sci-fi. I wonder if it’s just assumed to be a solved problem.

    • And Capt. Pike in ST: TOS “The Menagerie.”

      I wonder whether the choice to have Davros be as he was reflected a deliberate irony, since the Daleks were patterned on the Nazis, and someone with mobility issues would have been singled out by them for extermination…

      • Erp

        Bujold’s Nexus has floaters which mobility challenged people are
        shown using. This includes one group who normally live in
        weightlessness and have been genetically modified to take full advantage
        of that but have mobility problems in gravity (they see the downsiders
        as usually mobility challenged in their environment [and also
        vulnerable to health complications if they stay long term]).

        Admittedly it was a long standing question how exactly did Daleks handle stairs.

        • I suppose we could also include the humans on the spacecraft in Wall-E in this discussion…

          • I always wondered how they even survived coming back to Earth. There was the art-montage in the credits, but with their kind of lifestyle and the adaptation to lower gravity, their coming to earth without preparation… The darker part of me wonders how many fatal heart-attacks there were, or issues with blood pressure and muscle-atrophy.

        • Raymond

          I always thought that should have been totally ignored. The Doctor and his/her team run up a flight of stairs, and the Daleks end up right behind them anyway.

    • Would Baron Harkonnen in the Dune series count? He wouldn’t be able to get around without his suspensors and in our suspensorless world that kind of weight would probably have led him to be a wheelchair user.

    • I wonder about that, too – Maybe there’s an assumption that getting paralysis reversed will be a routine procedure in the future. I mean, we do a lot of things today that would have been straight-up wizard stuff a century ago. My husband just had cardiac bypass surgery – a bear to recover from, but a relatively routine procedure today. Had the year been 1918 instead of 2018, I think he would have just died of heart-attack, untreatable. I immediately think of Geordi LeForge of Star Trek: The Next Generation – a blind man who saw better than sighted people because future medical technology gave him a visor that hooked directly into his brain.

      And I enjoy some anime series that feature… a lot of people with advanced prosthetics. My favorite character in all of fiction, for instance, is Vash the Stampede of the series Trigun. He lost his left arm and has a robotic left-arm that’s well-disguised (and also serves as a high-powered gun). Jett Black of Cowboy Bepob is a space bounty-hunter with a similar loss of arm issue and sports a highly-advanced prothetic. In more magical-world terms, there’s Edward Elric of Fullmetal Alchemist who has “Automail” for an arm and a leg. That’s not even getting into the Ghost in the Shell universe, in which characters can gain full consciousness-transfer and can have full prosthetic bodies. (As I remember that anime, it’s not something that everyone does, it’s not some transhumanist universe where everyone wants to leave their body behind, Kusanagi just got made into a full cyborg as a little girl because she was suffering a terminal illness and her parents were desperate to save her).

    • Raymond

      I’ve always wondered whether in some cases prosthetics is so advanced that most people have full mobility and it’s not an issue. Although even that would be a good plot point. Star Wars does that, but of course, we are talking about science-fiction. /s

  • Brandon Roberts

    part of me wants to read some of these, not cause i agree with them but cause i’m curious about the extent of their paranoia.

    • I know how you feel!

    • Some people read things so you don’t have to. I found the TV Tropes page for “The Turner Diaries” once in a wiki-walk around that site. It makes me curious to read it if I ever came across a copy of it, but at the same time, the tropes and handling listed there makes me think that it’s bad enough writing (in the craft department, racism aside) that it wouldn’t be worth my time and brain cells. https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/TheTurnerDiaries

  • Widuran

    Why are they linking Trump to white supremacists? What a cowardly lazy article and a leftish destruction of true race relations

    • What is your vision of “true race relations” and why should anyone accept it?

      • Widuran

        Loving others as yourself.

        This means those who want to redistribute resources from the white man to the non white man now would not advocate this as they would not want resources taken from them.

        Of course if we went the far left view to reallocate all resources then the circle of redistribution would never end

        • Wow. I’m not sure which is more impressive – your attempt to use the Golden Rule to advocate not sharing fairly, your desire to enforce inequities along racial lines, or your admission in the last sentence that the far left view (by which I presume you mean Communism) would, if truly put into practice, would ideally encompass everyone and so everyone would be reached and equality achieved…

          • Widuran

            No I used the golden rule as point to treat each other as we want to be treated.

            As you know if the people who lost land centuries ago were redistributed back to descendants now there would be chaos and would not be fair.

          • So what you’re saying is that you think people should be able to flout the Golden Rule by enslaving others, then denying them citizenship, then segregating them, then discriminating against them, and yet when anyone suggests addressing this system, they should then be able to appeal to the Golden Rule in a twisted form to say “You wouldn’t want to have to lose privileges and make restitution to others you wronged, and so you can’t ask us to either”?!

            Who is talking about figuring out who had land previously and redistributing people to it?!

          • Widuran

            Oh dear you have resorted to lies and personal attacks. Your argument has already failed.

          • You’re not making any sense, and you’re not addressing things that anyone here has actually written. This is not a soapbox for venting about pet peeves or debating with imaginary conversation partners in your own head. If you can’t engage in serious conversation, this blog is not for you.

          • Widuran

            I am making perfect sense it is you who has used personal attacks against me

          • I’m not surprised that someone who seems to think that all it takes to not be implicated in racism is to say on social media “I am not racist” would also think that all that is necessary to make sense is to add “I am making perfect sense” beneath their string of off-target ramblings.

            Where have I made any sort of personal attack against you, never mind done so more than once as you claim?

          • Widuran

            Your false allegations/cowardly personal attacks

            “your attempt to use the Golden Rule to advocate not sharing fairly,”

            “your desire to enforce inequities along racial lines”

            “So what you’re saying is that you think people should be able to flout the Golden Rule by enslaving others, then denying them citizenship, then segregating them, then discriminating against them, ”

            As for your other silly comment. You may notice by my name I am not a white man. I am an Asian man. I fully understand real racism. I fully understand the hardships of the past but also understand that a redistribution of resources makes everyone suffer. I also understand that upholding immigration laws is not racist and is a good thing especially as millions of immigrants join a country legally. There is no excuse.

          • You seem to think that showing how ridiculous and thoroughly unchristian your stance is conititutes a “personal attack.”

            I obviously have no idea what your real name is. If you wish to make your stance or your identity known, you will need to do so through your comments.

          • Widuran

            You make personal accounts with no evidence. That is unChristian and is a personal attack.

            I have given you my real identity. Are you not really James F McGrath? Is this a fake name?

            It seems your attitude is far from Christ

          • OK, seems like it is time for you to take a break. Maybe during that time you will make the effort to find out whose blog you have been commenting on, and how it is possible to confirm who I am.

            If and when you are ready for serious, intelligent conversation you will be able to reach me, because you will know with confidence who I am…

          • Widuran

            The liberal lefts crying racism for everything is actually making race relations worse for the non whites.

          • Evidence, please.

          • Widuran

            You disagree with me: “The Republican Party is racist.” “Sarah Palin is racist.” There’s a famous Tea Party sign that reads, “It doesn’t matter what this sign says. You’ll call it racism anyway!” Why are these people and groups racist? They JUST ARE. “Everybody” knows it. In other words, liberals believe they can’t be racist by virtue of being liberal; so people or groups that oppose them must be “racist” by default. It’s about as intellectual as a five year old calling someone a “poopy head,” but it’s how they think.

            I need more attention and/or money: There are an awful lot of people in the Democrat Party who make a living calling people “racist.” Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Melissa Harris-Perry, Toure, Joy Reid, Eric Dyson, the NAACP, Tavis Smiley, Cornell West and Ben Jealous rely on finding new and intriguing ways to accuse people of bigotry to fill their pockets and get in front of cameras. If they couldn’t find enough things to call “racist,” they’d be nobodies and worse yet, some of them might have to get real jobs instead of pretending to be offended for a living.

            Let’s take a choice away from black Americans: No group in Congress does less to make the lives of its constituents better than the Congressional Black Caucus. Furthermore, no ethnic group in America has been more loyal to a political party with less to show for it than black Americans. So how can it be that the Democrat Party has been an absolute disaster for black Americans, yet it can count on 90% of the black vote every election? Simple; liberals have falsely convinced black Americans that Republicans hate them. That means no matter how bad it gets, Republicans can’t even be considered as an option. This is how Democrats have managed to utterly destroy cities like Detroit without the populace even considering the Republican Party as an option.

  • jh

    off topic

    it’s spelled “supremacist”. Not “supremicist”

    One of my favorites series was the Miles Vorkosigan series where the protagonist is a “mutie dwarf”. Of course, Weber has a protagonist, Honor Harrington, who can’t have nerve regeneration therapy. A lot of the sci fi presumably has a future where medical achievements mean that everyone can walk. limb regen, body pods and so on. Unless you are dealing with a dystopian future such as in N. K. Jemisin’s “the Fifth Season” where survival means able healthy bodies people survive, one doesn’t really expect to see handicapped people. Fantasy also has a similar problem because a spell or two and you get your hand back or an approximation of it. Lucas at least had cyborgs and robotic limbs in his star wars series which means stairs would be a non-issue.