William Pierce: a history of hate

The Washington Post/January 19, 2000
By David Segal

Hillsboro, W.Va. -- Though William Pierce calls Resistance's music "godawful," buying the label was a natural move for a savvy marketer who has long taken a multimedia approach to peddling hate.

Raised mostly in Texas, where he went to a military high school, Pierce spent the first half of his life as a physicist, interning at Los Alamos National Laboratory before working at other leading facilities. In the 1960s, he landed as a professor at the University of Oregon, where the civil rights movement and protests against the Vietnam War convinced him that racial equality is a form of madness. Democracy, he further decided, isn't such a great idea either.

Quitting academia, Pierce went to Washington, D.C., working for George Lincoln Rockwell, head of the American Nazi Party. He published a newspaper in Washington for years, but by the early 1980s, Pierce moved to Hillsboro, W.Va.

Few in Hillsboro are aware their town has become the world capital of hatecore music. The 215 residents barely interact with Pierce, aside from his rare trips to the post office. When he moved in, authorities passed a law limiting the right to train paramilitary troops in the area. But nary a shot has been heard.

"He's a keenly intelligent individual," said Jerry Dale, Hillsboro's sheriff. "He's not going to cause problems in his back yard. He's more like a coach for impressionable young men. His violence is in his writing." With "The Turner Diaries," published in 1978, Pierce wrote the white power movement's primary text, a blueprint for revolution that has sold more than 350,000 copies, mostly through gun shows and mail-order sales. A photocopied paragraph from the novel -- about white supremacists blowing up the FBI building -- was found in the car of Timothy McVeigh, who was convicted of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Inspiring more McVeighs to orchestrate their violent energy more effectively is among Pierce's goals. His larger purpose, he said, is to bring about an America free of minorities.

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