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Fantasy author Theodore “Vox Day” Beale has been called many terrible things. A “racist shithead.” A “racist dickhead.” A “human garbage pile.” A “sentient colostomy bag.” “A racist numpty poopgoblin.”
And those are just from me. He’s never complained.
But one thing he doesn’t like being called is a Nazi. He doesn’t like it so hard that when fantasy author Foz Meadows referred to him as a “neo-Nazi” in an essay on politics and fiction posted on the website of fantasy magazine Black Gate last week, Beale threw a fit, demanding that the site “remove this false, malicious, and materially damaging libel.”
Beale has been happy enough to associate himself with the alt-right, but insists he’s no Nazi, nuh-uh, no way:
I am neither a neo-Nazi nor a National Socialist, I have never been a neo-Nazi or a National Socialist, I do not belong to, or subscribe to the tenets of, the German National Socialist Workers Party or any subsequent facsimile, and I do not appreciate the libelous attempts of Ms Meadows, to publicly and falsely assert that I am “an actual neo-Nazi”.
Black Gate subsequently removed all but the first two paragraphs of Meadows’ essay; Amazing Stories picked it up, and it can now be found in its entirety on that site. (See here for more details on all this.)
Meadows has refused to retract her characterization of him. And so the lovely Mr. Beale called upon his fans to dig up personal information on her:
Beale has since deleted his request for “a complete report” on Meadows from his blog post, but you can still see it in this archived version of the post.
Meadows has reiterated her point:
– & further, that this definition isn't contingent for its validity on his agreement with me. It's not an insult, but a rational judgement.
— Foz Meadows (@fozmeadows) December 12, 2016
She also highlighted some of the terrible things Beale’s fans have said about her:
And in response, here's a rundown of some of what his commenters have said about me, with his sanction, in his space: pic.twitter.com/FTUv03rhHU
— Foz Meadows (@fozmeadows) December 12, 2016
As it turns out, the “someone else” she refers to — the person she linked to in her Black Gate essay — is me. The post in question is one in which, among other things, I try (and fail) to make sense of Beale’s puzzling declaration, in one of his blog posts from several months back, that “National Socialism” is a “semiotically useful form of German nationalism” yet also “suicidally stupid.”
Meadows sees this as evidence that Beale is indeed a neo-Nazi; Beale, for his part, declares that my post, “actually proves the precise opposite.”
Er, I don’t actually think that it does. What I think it “proves,” insofar as it proves anything, is that Beale likes to skate really close to the Nazi label without ever embracing it, always careful to put a bit of daylight between him and the “semiotically useful” but “suicidally stupid” National Socialists.
Does that make him definitively not a neo-Nazi?
I suppose that depends on one’s definition of the term. Some dictionaries define neo-Nazi pretty narrowly. According to Merriam-Webster.com, for example, the term means “a member of a group espousing the programs and policies of Hitler’s Nazis.” By that standard, I don’t think Beale could be classified as a neo-Nazi; there are, after all, some distinctions between the racist nationalism Beale espouses and the “programs and policies of Hitler’s Nazis.”
Dictionary.com has a somewhat broader definition, declaring a neo-Nazi to be “a person who belongs to a political organization whose beliefs are inspired by or reminiscent of Nazism.” Oxforddictionaries.com offers two definitions, one a fairly narrow one, the other quite a bit more expansive: “a person of extreme racist or nationalist views.”
By these definitions, Beale arguably could be classified as a neo-Nazi. He has embraced the alt-right, a group (if not a literal political organization) that is very definitely “inspired by or reminiscent of Nazism.” Richard Spencer, who came up with the term alt-right, was very clearly “inspired by” Nazism when he ended his now infamous speech of a couple of weeks ago with “hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory.”
And certainly Beale has “extreme racist or nationalist views.” Beale describes himself as a nationalist, and his racism is well-known. In one recent blog post, for example, Beale declared
that a black population in excess of an as-yet-undetermined percentage of the overall population renders the continuation of Western civilization impossible.
He’s also been known to rail against the alleged evils of miscegenation (also known by racists like Beale as “mudsharking” or “coal-burning”). In one blog post several months back, he mocked a white woman allegedly murdered by her black boyfriend, declaring “burn de coal, pay de toll.”
So, yeah, I’d call that extreme racism.
Nonetheless, despite his racism and other bigotries, despite his embrace of the Nazi-inspired alt-right, I’ve always stopped short of calling Beale a Nazi. Personally, I prefer to limit that term to those who have literal shrines to Hitler set up in their living room. I’m going to stick with calling him a “sentient colostomy bag.”
But if Beale thinks that someone calling him a “neo-Nazi” is guilty of “false, malicious, and materially damaging libel,” I think he’s going to have to take that up with the Oxford English Dictionary.