"Collaborator, race traitor
Now you've got nowhere to hide
You've got nowhere to run."
- Storm Section, "Night of the Rope"
Warning: Disturbing imagery/language to follow.
Andrew Macdonald's (real name William Luther Pierce) 1978 novel The Turner Diaries has been required reading for neo-Nazis and domestic terrorists, including Timothy McVeigh, who had a copy in his car when he was arrested for bombing the Murrah Building in 1994. The novel, which consists of pages from the fictional diaries of Earl Turner, recounts a revolt against the US government in the early 1990s to reclaim it for white people, eventually destroying all POC and ethnic minorities on Earth. One of its most horrifying moments comes on August 1st, 1993, when Turner leads "The Day of the Rope" (colloquially referred to by some as "Night of the Rope") - a mass murder of "race traitors" that include politicians, lawyers, professors, judges, people who marry outside their race, and yes, journalists. As he writes:
“Today has been the Day of the Rope — a grim and bloody day, but an unavoidable one. Tonight, from tens of thousands of lampposts, power poles, and trees throughout this vast metropolitan area the grisly forms hang."
We don't know if Jared Warren Ramos, the Capital Gazette shooter who killed five journalists yesterday in Annapolis, MD, has read The Turner Diaries, but it's clear that the neo-Nazis who control the alt-right have, since killing journalists has now become a part of their discourse. During the 2016 campaign, a notorious anti-journalist t-shirt started showing up at Trump rallies with the slogan: "Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some assembly required." By the time these shirts started appearing, Trump had been calling journalists "the most dishonest people," and reporters had been physically assaulted at his rallies. Although Trump is to blame for setting this tone, the reference to rope is not an accident.
Alt-right threats of violence towards journalists had increased even before Milo Yiannopoulos made his now-infamous exhortation to "start gunning journalists down on sight.” Earlier in June, Mike "Enoch" Peinovich, host of the alt-right podcast The Daily Shoah, had changed it from "Day of the Rope" to "Day of the Brick," encouraging his followers to "Brick a journo." Journalists, who have already put themselves in harm's way in order to cover this heinous period in our history, found themselves spammed with these memes:
After the brick memes stopped, the alt-right continued sending threatening emails to journalists throughout the country, warning them that "all journalists will be hanged on the day of the rope." According to The Guardian, the primary targets of these attacks were women, who have received similar threats for years prior. Take this reply to UK journalist Denise Evans, for example:
Now that Ramos has taken lives, they're back to the original language and they're not moving away from it any time soon:
The normalization of hate speech is de rigeur in Trump's America, as the man himself has done nothing to stop his followers from engaging in it. As a result, hate crimes have risen by 12% between 2016-17 according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Now journalists find themselves at risk as Trump refuses to speak on behalf of the murdered, and the reality of a potential "Day of the Rope" must be taken seriously. This has been a prominent trope in alt-right circles for a long time, and with August 1st coming soon, I would hope that America's security forces are ready to protect journalists from the worst - but even that seems unlikely.
One of the most-cited parts of The Turner Diaries is the "14-word" manifesto, “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children.” It appears someone at the Department of Homeland Security has read it, because this is what you find on their home page:
Trolling? Or a sign of what's to come? Whatever it is, it can't just be for "lulz" when there's blood on the floor.