Analysis

What Are the '14 Words' Everyone’s Been Freaking Out About?

Did Ann Coulter tweet a reference to an infamous neo-Nazi slogan? Nope. But let’s use this as an excuse to refresh our Nazi lexicon

Ann Coulter
AP

UPDATE: August 14, 2017 - This story, originally published January 6, 2017, is being re-upped following renewed interest in Nazi rhetoric following events in Charlottesville  

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With the holidays over and only two weeks left to go before Donald Trump officially becomes the president of the United States, it seems like every person in America is on pins and needles these days.

Tensions are running high—so high in fact, that apparently tweets containing only random numbers are enough to cause a giant public freak out. 

Conservative commentator (and famously sane person) Ann Coulter sent out a seemingly cryptic tweet on Thursday containing just a number and an exclamation mark: “14!”

The intention was simple enough: 14 is the number of days President Barack Obama has left in office. Coulter just counted down the days to the end of Obama’s term, as she had done over and over again in the past year. 

Simple, right? Wrong. This is post-2016 America we’re talking about. Nothing is ever simple anymore. Everything has to have a hint of conspiracy to it now, every word must be code for something else.

Coulter tweeting something so insipid as the number of days left before Barack Obama is no longer president? Come on, that’s just what they want to think. “14” is also an infamous neo-Nazi symbol.

Hence, it stands to reason that Ann Coulter was really tweeting some covert Nazi code, publicly affirming what all of “us” knew: she’s, like, totally a white supremacist.

Sadly, this is exactly the way liberals and white supremacists alike chose to see Coulter’s tweet, with some liberals content that Coulter has finally “admitted” to being a white power advocate and a whole lot of neo Nazis responding enthusiastically to what they thought was a show of support with another, corresponding Nazi code: 88

“14” and “88” (often appearing combined as 1488 or 14/88) are very common white supremacist numerals symbolizing some of the movement’s core values. You can see them in tattoos,on t-shirts , in song lyrics and even on beer .

88 is the more straightforward of the two, standing for HH, or “Heil Hitler.” 14 is code for the “14 words,” a prominent Nazi slogan which goes as follows:

"We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” (a different, much less common version, goes: “Because the beauty of the White Aryan woman must not perish from the earth”).

This slogan, which has become the battlecry for neo-Nazis and white supremacists worldwide, was first coined by David Lane, who the Southern Poverty Law Center defines as “one of the most important ideologues of contemporary white supremacy.”

Lane, who died in federal prison in 2007, was affiliated with a number of white supremacist organizations throughout his life (including the KKK and Aryan Nations), but he is best known as one of the founders of a white supremacist terrorist group called The Order (aka Brüder Schweigen, or the “Silent Brotherhood”).

The group carried out a number of murders and multimillion dollar armed robberies in the early 1980s during a brief but highly-publicized crime spree, all in the name of overthrowing the hated “Zionist Occupied Government,” aka “ZOG.” 

The Order’s most infamous act of terrorism was the assassination of Jewish radio host Alan Berg, in front of his home in Denver in 1984 after speaking out against white nationalists.

Most of The Order’s members were imprisoned shortly thereafter, and Lane, who served as a getaway driver during Berg’s assassination, was sentenced to 190 years in prison.

While in prison, Lane coined the “14 words” and authored a number of highly influential texts within the world of white nationalism. The texts, naturally, dealt with the dangers of miscegenation, Jews and government tyranny.

In one of them, Lane claimed that white families should move to a remote country and take over it, thus creating a “haven” for white people

Also in prison, Lane helped create a new religion, a neo-pagan faith called Wotanism (supposedly inspired by an essay by Carl Jung) which incorporates a worship of many of the old Norse gods like Odin and Thor with an emphasis on the survival of the Aryan race.

But Lane’s main contribution to the lexicon of white supremacy is his “14 words.” In Germany, where Nazi symbols are legally banned, it helped extremists communicate in secret without the use of overt symbols  has since been joined by hundreds of similar numerical codes symbolizing different aspects of white supremacist faiths, values and culture, but ranks above all of them as the official motto of white separatists everywhere.

What does all this have to do with Ann Coulter? Very little. But with allusions, homages, rallies and even flat out imitations of Nazi Germany appearing on the news almost every single day, it might explain why some people—liberals and neo nazis alike—were perhaps overeager and read too much into Coulter’s tweet.

The best thing for all, really, would be to move on from this. After all, let’s face it, within Ann Coulter’s oeuvre there are plenty of other shockingly racist statements that liberals can be outraged about, and white supremacists can cheer.