Revilo P. Oliver
Revilo P. Oliver in 1963
|Born||Revilo Pendleton Oliver|
July 7, 1908
Corpus Christi, Texas
|Died||August 20, 1994 (aged 86)|
|Pen name||Ralph Perrier|
|Subject||American conservatism, politics, anti-communism, religion|
Revilo Pendleton Oliver (July 7, 1908 – August 20, 1994) was an American professor of Classical philology, Spanish, and Italian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After World War II, he published in American Opinion, becoming known as a polemicist for white supremacist and right-wing causes.
Oliver also briefly attracted national notoriety in the 1960s when he published an article after the President John F. Kennedy assassination, suggesting that Lee Harvey Oswald was part of a Soviet conspiracy against the United States. He was called to testify before the Warren Commission investigating the murder.
Revilo Pendleton Oliver was born in 1908 near Corpus Christi, Texas. He attended two years of high school in Illinois. Disliking the severe winters, and once requiring hospitalization "for one of the first mastoidectomies performed as more than a daring experiment", he relocated to California, where he studied Sanskrit. He used Max Müller's handbooks and Monier Williams' grammar, later finding a Hindu missionary to tutor him.
As an adolescent, he found amusement in watching evangelists "pitch the woo at the simple-minded", attending performances of Aimee Semple McPherson and Katherine Tingley. He entered Pomona College in Claremont, California, when he was sixteen.
In 1930, Oliver married Grace Needham. He returned to Illinois, where he attended the University of Illinois and studied under William Abbott Oldfather. His first book was an annotated translation, from the Sanskrit, of Mricchakatika (The Little Clay Cart), published by the University of Illinois in 1938. He received his PhD in 1940. That same year, the University published his Ph.D. thesis: Niccolò Perotti's Translations of the Enchiridion, which was republished in 1954 as Niccolo Perotti's Version of the Enchiridion of Epictetus.
During World War II Oliver said that he worked at an unnamed War Department agency from 1942 until the autumn of 1945, writing, "By good luck, I found myself in charge of a rapidly expanding department, and ...responsible for the work of c. 175 persons."
Oliver left Washington, D.C. in 1945. He returned to the University of Illinois as an Assistant Professor, became an Associate Professor in 1947, and Professor in 1953. He published little in the academic press but later became known for politically conservative articles expressing anti-Semitism and white supremacy.
In November 1955, William F. Buckley, a graduate of Yale, founded the National Review, a magazine to express a conservative viewpoint. Buckley would later claim that he worked to increase conservatism's respectability, prohibiting publication by anti-Semites or extremists such as Oliver, but he employed Oliver, his "close friend", as a book reviewer for the National Review for many years before finally breaking with him over his 1964 article on the Kennedy assassination.
In 1958, Oliver joined Robert W. Welch, Jr. as one of the founding members of the conservative, anti-Communist John Birch Society. Oliver wrote frequently for the Birch Society magazine American Opinion. In 1962, Buckley repudiated Welch and the "Birchers", saying they were "far removed from common sense" and urging the GOP to purge itself of Welch's influence.
Oliver attracted attention from his university and the media by his two-part article called "Marxmanship in Dallas", published in February 1964 after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He said that Lee Harvey Oswald had carried out the murder as part of a Communist conspiracy; and that the Communists wanted to kill Kennedy, whom Oliver described as a puppet who had outlived his usefulness. His comments were reported by the New York Times. In March 1964, the Los Angeles Times reported that Oliver had been reprimanded by the University of Illinois' Board of Trustees for his remarks, but was allowed to keep his position. Oliver testified in the fall of that year before the Warren Commission.
In the 1960s, Oliver broke with American conservatism. Having become convinced that Welch had either tricked him or sold out to Zionist interests, he objected to what he called "the Birch hoax." He was "forced to resign" from the Society.
Oliver moved further right, working with William Luther Pierce in 1970 to form the National Youth Alliance, a white nationalist organization. Pierce later wrote The Turner Diaries, a 1978 novel about a race war and overthrow of the United States government.
Oliver was an editorial adviser for the Institute for Historical Review, an organization devoted primarily to Holocaust denial. He was also a regular contributor to Liberty Bell magazine but received no mainstream notice.
Oliver retired in 1977. In 1994, suffering from leukemia and severe emphysema, he committed suicide at the age of 86 in Urbana, Illinois. His estate arranged to publish several works posthumously through Historical Review Press and Liberty Bell, as well as to attend to the needs of his wife Grace in her declining years.
Oliver believed that religion was one of the major weaknesses of his nation and civilization. In a 1990 article, he characterized Christianity as "a spiritual syphilis" that "has rotted the minds of our race and induced paralysis of our will to live."
Damon T. Berry, in his book Blood and Faith: Christianity and American White Nationalism (Syracuse University Press, 2017), devotes an entire chapter to Oliver, concluding that "Oliver hated both conservativism and Christianity...because they equally represented to him an ideological poison that was alien to the best instincts of the white race to defend its existence." (p. 41)
"Revilo P. Oliver" is a palindrome—a phrase that reads the same backwards and forwards. One of his articles was denounced as a fraud because readers thought his palindromic name was suspect. Oliver said his name had been given to first sons in his family for six generations.
He used the pen names "Ralph Perier" (for The Jews Love Christianity and Religion and Race) and "Paul Knutson" (for Aryan Asses). Oliver is sometimes credited as the author of the Introduction (credited to Willis Carto) to Francis Parker Yockey's Imperium.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Revilo P. Oliver|