For 46 years, murderer Charles Manson regarded himself as superior to the Black offenders with whom he shared the degenerating living conditions of prison facilities.
Manson, who passed away at 83 years old on Sunday, was the impeccably cruel leader of murderous 1960s cult the Manson Family. The cohort’s most notorious victim was then-pregnant actress Sharon Tate. The nine murders committed by the Family are infamous but the racial motives that drove the heinous acts aren’t as well known. But as the swastika tattoo carved into Manson’s forehead indicates, it was by no doing of the callous killer that his White supremacy was less reputed than his sheer malignity.
A year before orchestrating the killings, Manson developed a fanatic interest in the Beatles’ White Album. He believed the Beatles’ 1968 album emanated with race-baiting undertones. Manson took inspiration from one song in particular, “Helter Skelter”, in titling his aspirations for the massive race war he hoped would result in the self-destruction of Blacks. While the song appears to be a mere tribute to the complexities of love, Manson alleged he interpreted “Helter Skelter” and other songs on the album as a call to racially divisive action, according to HuffPost:
“At the end of each song there is a little tag piece on it, a couple of notes. Or like in “Piggies” there’s “oink, oink, oink.” Just these couple of sounds. And all these sounds are repeated in “Revolution 9.” Like in “Revolution 9,” all these pieces are fitted together and they predict the violent overthrow of the white man. Like you’ll hear “oink, oink,” and then machine gun fire. … I think it’s a subconscious thing. … This music is bringing on the revolution … The Beatles know in the sense that the subconscious knows.”
While incarcerated for petty crimes prior to forming his cult, Manson read the book How to Win Friends & Influence People. He used the book’s teachings to manipulate the minds of his cult members. Among his deception tactics was convincing followers that if they didn’t commit the murders, Blacks would rule the nation and kill or enslave them.
After each killing, Manson and his followers wrote pig using the blood of their victims. The word choice was very intentional as the wayward nature of some policemen led them to be referred to as pigs by Black communities, in particular. Cult members would also write “rise” and a misspelled form of “Helter Skelter.” He also wanted to ensure the crime scenes looked as grisly as possible. Following Tate’s murder, the Family returned to the home later that night to make the scene appear even more gruesome and further incite the possibility of a race war.
Manson wanted to manipulate police and, subsequently, the media into believing Black organizations such as the Black Panthers, who were against police brutality, were responsible for the murders.
Manson viewed the Panthers as well as Black Muslims as threats and believed Blacks were inferior. He hoped a race war would lead Blacks and Whites to kill one another, with Blacks eventually leading themselves to destruction. When that never came to fruition, Manson regained faith in his plan after he and the Family were convicted and imprisoned. But that did not bring about his war either.
While his apocalyptic plans ultimately were unsuccessful, the author of Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson, Jeff Guinn, told Newsweek that Manson’s White supremacy has influenced a number of neo-Nazis today.
“I keep being reminded of Charlie Manson when we see white supremacist groups,” Guinn told the publication. “It’s almost like they’re copying the Charles Manson playbook. He’s certainly acting as a role model for people today.”