NYT Oped: Charles Manson Was A Far Right Wing Ideologue

Chris White | Tech Reporter

The New York Times published an op-ed Tuesday suggesting that now-deceased mass murder Charles Manson was the harbinger for alt-right and white supremacists like Richard Spencer.

Manson’s mission to cajole a slew of hippies to go on a murdering spree in 1969 to kickstart a race war paved the way for today’s alt-right, columnist Baynard Woods wrote in TheNYT. The Manson family gave people like Dylan Roof justification for their murders, according to Woods.

“Mr. Manson, who spent much of his life in prison with a swastika carved into his head, had more in common ideologically with far-right wing groups like the John Birch Society than he did with the anarchic leftism of, say, the Yippies,” Woods wrote, referring to a conservative group formed in the 1960s to fight communism.

Woods also believes Manson, who was put on trial in 1970 for orchestrating the murders of nine people, was not so much the end of the hippie generation as much as he was the start of modern right-wing conservativism.

Manson’s accomplices danced through the halls of the court and chanted at the trial – Manson himself carved an “X” into his forehead and rambled incoherently during court proceedings. He later reconfigured the symbol into a swastika.

His trial ended in a death sentence, but California was embroiled in a fight over the death penalty at the time, that ended with the State Supreme Court abolishing execution in 1972. He died Monday after nearly 50 years in prison for the slayings.

Woods believes Manson’s decision to use the killing of Hollywood actress Sharon Tate to incite a race war was the precursor to Roof, a white supremacist who was convicted in 2016 of killing nine black parishioners in 2015 at a church in South Carolina.

“Mr. Manson was not the end point of the counterculture. If anything, he was a backlash against the civil rights movement and a harbinger of white supremacist race warriors like Dylan Roof, the lunatic fringe of the alt-right,” wrote Woods, an editor and writer for Canadian media outlet Real News Network.

Manson called for white racists to wage a war against black Americans, a movement that he referred to as “Helter Skelter.” He interpreted the lyrics of the Beatles’ song as a sign that the race war was imminent, and that black Americans would defeat white Americans, but then be unable to run the country without his help.

Conservatives have already begun balking at the comparison. Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, for instance, blasted the oped, telling his followers on Twitter that Woods might have been high on cocaine when he made the comparison.

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