On "Aryan" Beauty and the Threat of Contact Lenses

“A man told authorities he chose a plastic surgeon from the phone book and killed him because plastic surgeons, hairdressers and people who make blue-tinted contact lenses are ‘diluting the Aryan beauty.’”

---Associated Press article, 8-10-93, on Jonathan Preston Haynes, 34. worked for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms from 1991 to March 1993.

When this story was picked up by the Delaware County Daily Times [a SW Pennsylvania tabloid] the next day, for its “In the Nation” short news items, the facts of the case were briefly summarized as follows: Haynes confessed to killing a hairdresser and a plastic surgeon, then told the judge that he was “angry about people ‘diluting the Aryan beauty’ by dyeing their hair blond and wearing blue contact lenses.” Then the story was given the headline, “Did Aryan beauty spark killing?” [p. 15]. [continued below]

Some thoughts on the above.


This guy sure did get lots of media play for two days. Perhaps it’s because it allows the media to make its readers and viewers---especially if they are white---feel safe and sane and definitely not like “that.”

Haynes used standard white supremacist clichés and says “the” Aryan beauty, as if it is a single, identifiable, and unchanging thing. He used traditional metaphors of threats to racial purity caused by racially-mixed sex and then applied it to appearances in general, thus revealing that he is threatened by the fact that racial categories, like gender ones, are in some ways moving more and more toward becoming concepts that are understood as things to be performed or acted, rather than things that are God-given and ‘natural’ and unchanging.

Haynes also implied that the natural beauty of pure whiteness was being diluted through a conspiracy of professionals who help people with non-Aryan blond-haired and blue-eyed looks disguise themselves as Aryan. None of the AP coverage showed an interest in what kind of “people” Haynes had in mind who achieved this disguise: were they “whites” who wanted to be blond and blue-eyed? Blacks? (Oprah Winfrey, for example, sometimes wears blue contact lenses, or lenses of other colors, depending on her mood.) Many Germans are not blond or blue-eyed: how would Haynes feel about their buying blue-tinted contact lenses? And what about someone like himself---of European descent, with dark hair and brown eyes---buying blue contact lenses?

And why did Haynes feel that a person buying a contact lens change the genetic pool? Or was Haynes most concerned with the overall appearance of the faces of the world’s---or America’s, or Chicago’s---population much more so than its genetic pool? As if he’s despaired to be able to define Aryan genetically and so worries endlessly about the percentage of the appearance of Aryan traits in the population? Or is it that he’s set himself up as the policeman of the border of Aryan identity, chosen to wreak revenge on those who would “pass”? [continued]

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Note also how the Daily Times’ editorial above, while mocking Haynes as a crazy person, accepts one of his central “ideas” --- that there is such a thing as “the” Aryan beauty. The editorial writer then implies that Haynes acted in a deluded defense of this reality, rather than questioning that ‘reality’ itself. (It also may imply that this ‘ideal’ is responsible for Haynes’ actions, not Haynes himself.)

It is also interesting that no mention is made of the ways in which the field of plastic surgery is largely governed by unspoken ideals of Aryan norms: those hazily defined standards for what makes a ‘properly’ beautiful nose on a man or woman can be linked to fictional ideals about European, especially Aryan, beauty.

Are there statistics on what different ‘styles’ of nose jobs (for example) were ordered recently by patients? What percentage requested a more “African” nose, or a “Semitic” or “Roman” nose? (I read somewhere that there has recently been a rise in requests for more “ethnic” noses recently, i.e., noses that look somewhat Jewish, but this is basically a rise from zero such operations to a few.) Haynes treated the plastic surgery profession as the enemy of the Aryan ideal, but in many ways it is its silent accomplice, promoting racial supremacist ideals but in a much more disguised way than Haynes---through posters in eyedoctors’ office, ads on the sides of buses, etc. It is (supposedly) rational and scientific, while Haynes is crazy, no? Most of the reporting of this incident has a subliminal function---to distance Haynes from the rest of us, to make it a “strange” incident, one to be reported with just a slight smirk, to reassure the rest of “us” (at least European-Americans) that such behavior is extreme and unusual, rather than tapping into deep and widely-shared fears. [continued, to left]

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Haynes’ “Rothman” alias is revealing, perhaps, but also a riddle. Was it a pun on “wrath”? Did he recognize that the name could be taken to be Jewish? Or was it meant to be what he thought was a diabolically clever disguise, one that would throw suspicion upon Jews for the murders he would execute?

Another possibility. Could his choice of “Rothman” be connected to the fact that Haynes sees himself as looking too Jewish or middle Eastern and therefore tries to compensate by shoring up his Aryan “ideal” of beauty by attacking those who threaten it? His “dark” double enacts his vengeance in the name of his “light” ideal. That dark double of himself embodies all his visions of power and violence and, thus, manliness, making “Haynes” a mere ghost of “Roth-man.” Yet it is that very dark double that is so threatening, that he perhaps wishes to exterminate even more strongly than he is driven to attack others....

Is there be a mirror in Rothman/Haynes’ jail cell? Probably not, if regulations say that mirrors can be broken and used as a knife.
Aryan addendum:

Iceland has contracted with a U.S.-funded corporation to compile the medical records, family trees, and genetic information of every one of the country's 270,000 citizens. The information is to be culled into a single computer database.

Iceland is the world's most homogeneous society, with little immigration since the Vikings. Iceland is the first nation to compile a genetic database of its citizens. [Its goal?] Already a mecca for male white supremacists seeking Aryan women to propagate the race, [Iceland may have more than medical knowledge in mind. Perhaps it is banking on advertising its nation's genetics as a way of attracting new mates. But how can Iceland use its databanks demonstrating Nordic "purity" without running the risk of endangering the fictional purity of that very genetic "pool"? Perhaps it will use the databank as a standard for evaluating the genetics of petitioning mates?]

---adapted and revised from an article in "Mondo Washington" by James Ridgeway, add'l reporting by Kate Cortesi, in the Village Voice, 2-15-2000, p. 44. Additional speculation by the Array, in brackets.

Aryan: 1. noble. used as a tribal name to distinguish from indigenous races. from airya-nam [Iran] [?!]

2. The hypothetical parent language of the Indo-European family. Aryan has no validity as an ethnological or racial term, although it has been so used, notoriously by the Nazis and others, to mean "A Caucasoid of non-Jewish descent," a "Nordic," etc. Yet the word-roots of this white supremacist name are in the middle East! ---see Webster's dictionary.

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