The (mis-) use of Greco-Roman history by modern white supremacy groups: the implications of the classics in the hands of white supremacists
King, Emily Anne
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SubjectResearch Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION::History and philosophy subjects::History subjects::History; White supremacy; Classical reception; Greco-Roman antiquity; Race theory; Nineteenth century; Western civilization
Extensive research was conducted to address the historical significance of the use of Greco-Roman history by modern white supremacists’ in the United States. I found that the use of the Classics by hate groups, such as white supremacy groups, follows a pattern of behavior beginning with the development of race theories between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. I examined the writings of race theorists from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries to prove how they used the work of Tacitus, for example, to coin both this idea of “white racial superiority” and project their own view of race onto the past. It is imperative to understand that our modern views of race did not exist in antiquity. Instead, the ancient Greco-Romans credited the physical differences amongst groups of people as a result of their geolocation, i.e. climate. I found this truth after poring over the ancient Greco-Roman texts that proved their idea of environmental determinism. Furthermore, I traced the implementation of this incorrect classical reception in the history of the United States, specifically in the legislation and education system in the nineteenth century onwards. By doing so, I was able to clearly see where modern white supremacists collected their skewed view of history from and how they continue to propagate false realities of antiquity. I argue that the Trump administration created an atmosphere where white supremacy groups feel entitled to outwardly demonstrate and incite acts of violence. I proposed my view that classicists have a duty to disseminate the truth from fiction and educate society as a whole during this time of rampant fake news.
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