For white nationalists, Trump win a dream come true, says alt-right leader from Dallas
November 16, 2016
Richard Spencer was euphoric the night Donald Trump was elected president.
“When it happened, I thought I might have been dreaming,” he said.
Spencer, a 38-year-old Dallas native and graduate of St. Mark’s School of Texas prep school, is a key intellectual leader of the alternative right, a label he coined in 2008 to describe the radical conservative movement defined by white nationalism and a fervent resistance to multiculturalism and globalism.
In his mind, Trump “is the first step, the first stage towards identity politics for white people.”
“That is something major,” Spencer said Tuesday night. “He’s not your father’s conservative. He’s not in this to promote free markets or neoconservative foreign politics or to protect Israel, for that matter. He’s in this to protect his people. He’s in this to protect the historic American nation.”
During the interview or shortly after it, Spencer’s Twitter account was suspended, along with those of several other prominent alt-right figures. He called the suspensions an act of “corporate Stalinism” carried out to mollify accusations that social media was responsible for Trump’s election — an analysis with which he agrees.
“This is just a sign that we have power,” he says in a video titled “The Knight of the Long Knives,” posted shortly after the “purge.”
Over the course of Trump’s presidential campaign, Spencer and others who championed the president-elect as an “alt-right hero” have blitzed out of the dark corners of the internet and into the national spotlight.
They have attracted thousands of new followers through their use of social media, memes and the internet more broadly. They have been labeled as racists, anti-Semites, xenophobes and bigots. They’re self-identified “deplorables” who claim they’ve been silenced by mainstream conservatism for far too long.
And if you ask them, Trump’s election on Nov. 9 made them the “vanguards” of American conservatism. In short, they believe they just hijacked the GOP.
“They are a conscious repudiation of the American conservative movement,” said Dan Morenoff, a 42-year-old lawyer from North Dallas and former head of the Republican Jewish Coalition chapter in North Texas. “They affirmatively reject the American ideals that conservatives have tried to conserve over the last 50 years. But I think a better description for them is barbarians. They are barbarians who would replace American culture with an ethno-national state.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center labeled Spencer an “academic racist” who takes a “quasi-intellectual approach to white separatism.”
Spencer prefers to call himself an “identitarian” but will accept white nationalist. He is adamant that he’s not a white supremacist, which implies a desire for whites to rule over nonwhites. Such a hierarchy would be “disastrous,” he said.
He’s the editor of Radix Journal, an online magazine focused on alt-right theory, and he serves as director and president of the National Policy Institute, an alt-right think tank he plans to use as a vessel to push Trump further in the direction of anti-war, anti-immigration and, most importantly, pro-white policies.
He envisions a white ethno-state utopia, devoid of black people, Muslims, Jews, Asians or anyone else without a common European heritage and culture. He believes white people in America have become rootless wanderers, displaced by immigrants who are now waging a kind of proxy war against the European cultural foundation upon which the U.S. was built.
“Look, I care about my people more than I care about others,” Spencer said. “It’s very simple. What form that takes, I don’t know. But I don’t believe in equality. I don’t care about everyone. I don’t care about the world. I want to fight for my people first.”
He says he holds no animosity for people of color and other minorities. In fact, he said he sympathizes with their plight in America and understands “why they never felt part of this country.”
But his sympathies don’t override what he believes is the inherent, genetically motivated animosity different races hold toward each other. Because of this natural hate, he believes walls will ultimately be more successful in promoting peace than bridges will be.
These views have some local Jewish community members “horrified,” but Morenoff said no one has any reason to be afraid. The alt-right may support Trump, but the general sentiment in the American community is far from the hate he says they espouse. He is however “preaching constant vigilance to people — wherever they are on the political spectrum.”
Other critics, like Denton activist Deborah Armintor, consider the movement a fantasy that is no less frightening for its flawed philosophy.
“They call themselves the alt-right, but I see that as a code word for white supremacism,” said Armintor.
Armintor, a faculty member in the English department and the Jewish and Israel Studies program at the University of North Texas, ran for an at-large seat on the Denton City Council this year but lost.
She says she was “paralyzed” for two days after Trump’s election but has since “snapped back into action” and will resist the “new vision for America” represented by the alt-right, which she says the president-elect “glommed on to.”
Armintor said the entire foundation of the white nationalist philosophy is flawed and a “complete fantasy.” North America was originally settled by Native Americans, and it was only after Europeans forcibly removed them from the land, and introduced slavery to the new continent, that European culture flourished.
In her mind, America has always been and will be a multicultural nation, albeit one with a complicated and painful history.
“I don’t have to make a case or plea for my existence or any of my friends’ existences. We’re here,” she said. “It’s the white supremacist, it’s those people who have to explain their position. They’re the ones who have to explain how they can dare to say these things in America after the Holocaust and genocides all over the world because of precisely these attitudes.”
Spencer currently resides in the resort town of Whitefish, Montana, in what was described as a “Bavarian-style mansion” in a profile in Mother Jones. He was born in Massachusetts but moved to the Preston Hollow neighborhood of Dallas when he was about 2 years old.
“It was a fairly idyllic, suburban childhood,” Spencer said with a laugh. “I remember riding bikes around the neighborhood, and so on. I guess you could say I lived in a bubble to a certain extent, like a lot of the kids in that area. But it was very nice.”
He attended St. Mark’s School of Texas, one of the most prestigious all-boys prep schools in the Southwest. He described himself as an average student who didn’t stand out among the bright minds surrounding him. He played varsity football and baseball. He directed a minimalist stage play titled K2 about two men stuck on a mountain 27,000 feet above sea level.
“You would’ve never guessed that I would become a political radical,” he said. “When I was a kid in Dallas — even a young man in Dallas — I was not a political radical. I don’t think there was anything in my childhood that inspired me to go down this path. If anything, I went down this path in spite of my background.”
Spencer said his father, a Dallas-based ophthalmologist, and mother are registered Republicans who aren’t passionate about politics and have “mainstream” conservative opinions and morals. He described them as “standard Episcopalian Dallasites.”
“Their political beliefs are not mine,” Spencer said. “I’m a bit of a black sheep.”
According to Mother Jones, Spencer was friends with the only black student in his class at St. Mark’s, John Lewis. Lewis said he never thought Spencer was a racist, but another student told Mother Jones they remembered Spencer making “conservative, racially laced comments.”
Spencer dismissed the claim, saying he didn’t come to hold his radical views until college. He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Virginia, where he double-majored in English and music.
During this period, he was influenced by the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche and Jared Taylor, a founding figure in the American white nationalist movement and editor of American Renaissance.
“I think my personality was open to these ideas,” he said. “I think it was a combination of nature and nurture. I was who I was, even as a child.”
He later studied humanities at the University of Chicago and then pursued a doctoral degree at Duke University for two years before he was offered at job at The American Conservative magazine and dropped out.
He was eventually fired because of his radical views, and in December 2009, he started AlternativeRight.com, which eventually became Radix Journal. In 2011 he became president of the National Policy Institute and has used it as a platform to promote his white nationalist ideas ever since.
The day after Trump was elected president, Spencer streamed a video on Periscope of himself describing his feelings about the results and what they represented. Viewers thanked him for laying the groundwork for Trump’s election. But he humbly deflected the congratulatory remarks.
“This really was one of the greatest moments of my life,” he said. “It’s hard to explain how enthusiastic I was last night. This is what I’ve been living for.”
Days after Trump was elected, he appointed Steve Bannon, the former executive of Brietbart News who is credited with guiding Trump’s campaign to victory, as his chief strategist.
The appointment drew heavy criticism because Breitbart has often been deemed a mouthpiece for the alt-right movement and white nationalist writers. Many Democratic legislators called for Trump to rescind the offer.
Spencer, on the other hand, welcomed the appointment and said it was the “best possible position” for Bannon in the Trump White House.
“Bannon will answer directly to Trump and focus on the big picture, and not get lost in the weeds,” he tweeted. “Bannon is not a ‘chief of staff,’ which requires a ‘golden retriever’ personality. He’ll be freed up to chart Trump’s macro trajectory.”
Armintor and Morenoff, two 42-year-old professionals from the Dallas area, are on opposite ends of the political spectrum but have both met Trump’s election with far more reserve. And they both stand in direct, aggressive opposition to the alt-right and white nationalism.
Armintor said she remains horrified but motivated to work at a local level to promote civic engagement and unity.
Morenoff said the alt-right’s rise is “deeply troubling,” but he will continue to scrutinize the executive branch.
“The alt-right is very happy about the election of Donald Trump,” he said. “They have adopted him as a mascot, but that doesn’t mean their feelings are mutual.”
While he doesn’t know if alt-right figures will be satisfied or disappointed by a Trump presidency, he recognizes this moment in American history as an opportunity to think critically about limited government.
“If the election of one political figure has the power to scare you this much, you should join with conservative groups to make sure the powers of the executive branch are not so strong that they make you feel afraid,” he said.
“If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them – Mr. and Mrs. America turn them all in – I would have done it. I could not do that – the votes weren’t here.”
In 2004, when Barack Obama was an Illinois state Senator, he voted against allowing people in their own homes to use guns to protect themselves and their families from rapists and murderers.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Germany was considered to be one of the most civilized and most advanced countries in the world. At the time, no one thought that a genocide could have been possible in Germany. But then in 1938, Adolf Hitler confiscated all the guns from the Jews. He explained his actions with the following:
“The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing.”
Next we have the “Genocide Chart” from Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. The chart doesn’t mean that banning guns always leads to genocide. However, it does suggest that allowing guns is a very effective way to prevent genocide. Click here and scroll down to see a larger version of the chart.