Racist novels skyrocket in price as views get forced off social media
Two notorious white nationalist novels are seeing their online values surge as social media companies remove white supremacists and far-right activists continue to use popular online venues to sell racist material.
Why it matters: The $200 asking price of the 1973 "The Camp of the Saints," a book that sold for $40 six months ago, shows the demand for white nationalist literature remains high as the Department of Homeland Security warns of the potential for violence following President Biden's inauguration.
- "The Turner Diaries" has been removed from many platforms but regularly resurfaces on others and sells online for double its normal price.
Details: "The Camp of the Saints" is a French dystopian novel that uses racial stereotypes and calls for violence in depicting the fall of white Western civilization because of migration from South Asia and Africa.
- "The Turner Diaries," by neo-Nazi author William Luther Pierce, details a violent revolution in the U.S. followed by a race war where white residents face extermination. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls it the "bible of the racist right."
- Both books had long existed on the fringes, but in recent years their popularity has grown as white nationalist groups become more visible.
Where it stands: Amazon has "The Camp of the Saints" listed from third-party sellers for around $200 to $1,000.
- Faceboook Marketplace has the book listed for $200, as do used book sites like Alibris.
- "The Turner Diaries" also is listed on a number of sites for around $40 when a few months ago it ran for less than $20.
- "This shows that the indoctrination of racist extremists continues and newbies are being targeted," Center for Countering Digital Hate CEO Imran Ahmed told Axios.
Yes, but: The bump in prices for the books could also mean the material is out of print and white nationalists have been deplatformed, said Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism.
- "It used to be you had to get these books at gun shows or by direct mail from white nationalist publishers, but then the Internet made it easier for a while. It could be that these books are going back (to being) hard to get."
Flashback: Leaked emails in 2019 showed that Donald Trump's future senior White House adviser, Stephen Miller, in 2015 encouraged the far-right website Breitbart to promote white supremacist ideas and referenced "The Camp of the Saints."
- Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon also is a fan of "The Camp of the Saints" and has compared current events involving people of color to the novel.
- "The way Trump talked about Black Lives Matter protesters and immigrants from Central America as an unhinged mob or invaders was similar to the language used in 'The Camp of the Saints,'" according to Jean Guerrero, author of "Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda."
What they're saying: "The fact that Amazon and others are profiting from the indoctrination of extreme racists is beyond disgusting. These platforms are morally complicit," Ahmed said.
- Amazon said in a statement that the company has policies that outline what products may be sold on its platform and is also concerned about the history of censorship.
- "We invest significant time and resources to ensure our content guidelines are followed, and remove products that do not adhere to our guidelines," Amazon said in a statement.
The big question: Anti-racist activists are debating whether advocates should read the novels to understand and better counter white nationalism or pressure private companies from carrying the materials.