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Buddhist Themes Within Twenty-First Century White Supremacism

Research presentation

25th Annual World Convention, Association for the Study of Nationalities

In addition to the adoption of the swastika and the term 'Aryan,' there are many instances of neo-Nazism’s curiosity and utilisation of non-Western religious elements—the veneration of French Hindu nationalist and Nazi sympathizer Savitri Devi, for example. Much attention has been paid to the connections between neo-Nazism and Hinduism. However, just as the swastika is a holy symbol in both Hinduism and Buddhism (it represents the footprints of the Buddha), white supremacist ideologues have also displayed an interest in Buddhism. In fact, in the last two decades, Buddhist symbols have been increasingly utilised in white supremacist propaganda, and Buddhist teachings and the life of Gautama Buddha are subjects of growing popularity within white supremacist circles. This paper charts and interrogates this trend.