Kyle Bristow first gained notoriety when he began inviting white nationalists to speak on campus while he led the Young Americans for Freedom chapter at Michigan State University in 2006.
About Kyle Bristow
The pugnacious college student also spearheaded anti-immigrant and anti-gay campaigns organized by Young Americans for Freedom, prompting the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to take the unusual step of listing the campus club as a hate group.
In His Own Words:
“Trump’s Wall is humanitarian compared to what I’d have done to secure the border.”
— Twitter post on June 20, 2018.
“I mean I’ve read the Constitution a number of times, I’ve never seen anything in there about abortion or homosexual marriage.”
— Interview with RedIce.TV on Dec. 30, 2017.
“The early and relatively sophisticated Egyptians understood that their civilization would be threatened if they bred with the Negroes to their south, so pharaohs went so far as ‘to prevent the mongrelization of the Egyptian race’ by making it a death penalty-eligible offense to bring blacks into Egypt … [although] blacks still came to Egypt as soldiers, slaves, and captives from other nations. By 1,500 B.C., half of the population of southern Egypt was of mixed blood, and by 688 B.C., societal progress had ended in Egypt.”
— The Conscience of a Right-Winger, collection of essays, 2012.
“[One character’s ancestors] for 40,000 years were all white and he hated who he was so very much that he put an end to that tradition by becoming romantically involved with a nonwhite individual — as many white liberals are predisposed to doing these days.”
— White Apocalypse, a novel, 2010.
“Homosexuality kills people almost to a degree worse than cigarettes. … These [pro-gay rights] groups are complicit with murder.”
— Quoted in the Spartan Edge, an alternative newspaper at Michigan State University, Sept. 24, 2006.
Kyle Bristow grew up in Clinton Township, Michigan, near Detroit. He was president of the Young Republicans Club at Chippewa Valley High School and has voiced anger about a perceived leftist bias in the local schools. In high school, he read the 2003 book, Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism by far-right attack dog Ann Coulter, which he says inspired a turning point in his political views, evidently to the extreme right.
During his freshman year at Michigan State University (MSU), Bristow was elected president of the campus conservative group Young Americans for Freedom (YAF). He also won an unopposed seat on the student government council. He quickly posted his 13-point agenda as a student representative, a sophomoric document saturated in hate that included capturing undocumented immigrants in the area, cutting school funding for non-heterosexual groups and giving more representation to men and whites on the student council than others. The council recalled Bristow in a landslide vote after he refused to recant his agenda or resign.
But the young firebrand succeeded in sparking plenty of national publicity during his two years as president of YAF. Ugly public spectacles were his specialty. He planned a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day,” which drew national attention but was later canceled. He led a “straight power” rally in front of the Lansing City Hall to protest a proposed 2006 law to protect gays, lesbians and bisexuals against bias based on sexual orientation. Protesters held up signs reading, “End Faggotry” and “Go Back in the Closet.” In a news release to publicize the event, Bristow wrote: “YAF members find homosexuality and other forms of sexual deviancy to be disgusting. The Boy Scouts, military, and the American public need to be protected from these degenerates.” Under Bristow’s leadership, the campus YAF group also held a “Koran desecration contest.” Based on these and other bigoted acts and statements, the SPLC began listing Michigan State’s YAF club as a hate group in 2007.
One of Bristow’s most inflammatory tactics was inviting virulently racist and antisemitic leaders to speak on the MSU campus — acts that triggered disciplinary threats from the national YAF group. Among those speakers was British National Party chairman Nick Griffin, a Holocaust denier and white supremacist. Another invitee was Jared Taylor, founder of the white nationalist New Century Foundation and editor of its American Renaissance, a journal that publishes racist articles and hosts periodic national conferences attended by a variety of hardline nationalists that has included neo-Nazis, former Klan leaders and other open white supremacists. Inviting Taylor was a step too far for the national YAF group. In a February 2008 post on the website of American Renaissance, Bristow disclosed that national YAF had threatened to revoke the campus’ charter if the local group hosted Taylor. In a bitter post, he complained that “YAF does not officially recognize multi-culturalism as a threat to the United States” and railed against “cowards at the university and in ‘conservative’ organizations.” Nevertheless, under heavy pressure from YAF, Bristow resigned from the MSU chapter and Taylor’s lecture was cancelled.
But Bristow clearly was determined to gain more attention for his extremist political views even as he seemed to be preparing for a mainstream career as a lawyer. After graduating from MSU, he started law school at the University of Toledo in 2010. He didn’t just write exams and school papers, though, using his spare time to contribute racist articles to the Citizens Informer, the quarterly newspaper of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens.
In 2010, Bristow moved into new territory, writing a novel that reads like the prolonged, violent revenge fantasy of a racist and antisemitic fanatic. White Apocalypse, self-published through the Amazon subsidiary CreateSpace, is still available on Amazon. The book takes as its touchstone the “Solutrean Hypothesis,” a widely discredited theory that whites from Europe appeared in North America 15,000 to 17,000 years ago, making them the true “Native Americans.” In Bristow’s version, these whites were massacred by darker-skinned late arrivals. He dedicates the book to “the real Native Americans.” Its publication was hailed by the white power movement as a bracing inspiration for future recruits to their cause.
The hero/narrator of the book wants the Solutrean theory to come to public light. But first he must squash the evil “Center for Diversity and Multiculturalism,” based in Atlanta. The group, which maintains an active legal staff and “hate group list,” just like the SPLC, is unquestionably modeled on the SPLC. But Bristow gets even more personal than that. Two of the fictional group’s staff members are clearly modeled on former SPLC Intelligence Report editor Mark Potok and Heidi Beirich, director of SPLC’s Intelligence Project. (Beirich’s name is rendered as “Beirman” in the book, and Potok’s stand-in is David Greenberg, who is described as an “oily, curly haired troll.” The Potok character is assassinated in a grisly and meticulously described scene.) When asked about the apparent targeting of Potok and Beirich, Bristow dismissed it entirely, saying in an email to the SPLC beginning “Dear Guttersnipe” that he meant nothing of the kind.
While still a law student in 2012, Bristow published another book, The Conscience of a Right-Winger, a collection of essays with a far-right spin on favorite topics such as the scourge of gun control, immigration and white racial pride. Like White Apocalypse, which was lauded across the extreme right, Bristow’s second book boasts enthusiastic endorsements from racist leaders such as Jared Taylor. A new edition on Amazon combines this nonfiction work with the earlier novel.
After finishing law school in 2012, Bristow appeared to be dropping under the radar as he took up work at a regular day job with the France Law Group in Toledo, Ohio. But not for long. He began to actively seek female clients whose nude photos were posted on online “revenge porn sites” by vindictive ex-partners. He got two of the sites shut down on behalf of clients, and then was interviewed about his efforts by the Wall Street Journal and television’s Katie Couric. Although many observers were surprised by Bristow’s activity helping people, he may have shown his real interest when he characterized revenge porn as a manifestation of liberalism and claimed that the majority of its victims are white, blonde women.
A year after joining the Toledo law firm, Bristow left to open his own law practice in the Detroit suburb of Clarkston, Michigan, where he billed himself online as an expert in internet law and “able to assist law school graduates who are going through the character and fitness” test required before sitting for the Michigan and Ohio bar exams. (Bristow is still licensed to practice law in both states.)
In Dec. 2013, Bristow publicly teamed with Dan Poole, a recent college graduate and activist with the white supremacist American Freedom Party, to create the Center for the Advancement of Occidental Culture. The new group’s mission was “to advance and defend Western civilization” and oppose alleged discrimination and harassment of European-Americans. Its opening online salvo, on Dec. 31, asked for original articles for its website and financial contributions. Mysteriously, just a month later, the two founders dissolved the new group as a limited liability corporation (Bristow was its chief legal officer, according to a blog post by the Anti-Defamation League) and its website went dead.
In March 2016, amidst the rise of presidential candidate Donald Trump and his nativist doctrine, Bristow formed the Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas (FMI), which soon became the unofficial legal arm for the racist “alt-right.” Consisting of several attorneys and other associates, FMI offered pro bono legal advice to alt-right members on college campuses. This included defending their right to bring controversial speakers onto campus. Bristow became FMI’s executive director, and its board members included notable alt-right figures such as Richard Spencer, Mike Peinovich aka Mike Enoch, the American Freedom Party’s William Daniel Johnson, and Jason Robb, the son of longtime Klan leader Thomas Robb. Bristow described FMI as an American Civil Liberties Union for the right wing.
Bristow stated the FMI was established “to promote the United States Constitution and to oppose people who and organizations which strive to usurp the freedoms it guarantees.” Bristow also said he intended to target so-called “social justice warriors.” Over the course of the next two years, Bristow became one of the most prominent lawyers for the alt-right. One of Bristow’s most important clients was Spencer. And on Spencer’s behalf, Bristow filed lawsuits against MSU, Auburn University, Ohio State University, the University of Cincinnati and other universities to force them to allow Spencer to speak at their schools.
Another one of Bristow’s clients was Matthew Heimbach. On March 1, 2016, at a Donald Trump rally at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville, Kentucky, a young man wearing a “Make America Great Again” baseball cap repeatedly shoved and yelled at University of Louisville student Kashiya Nwanguma, who was there to protest against the presidential candidate. Nwanguma was not the only protester allegedly assaulted during the rally but her exchange with Heimbach, head of the white nationalist Traditionalist Youth Network, was captured on video and Heimbach was charged with harassment with physical contact, a misdemeanor. In addition, Nwanguma filed a lawsuit on March 31 alleging that Heimbach and another man in the crowd shoved and struck her.
Heimbach hired Bristow to represent him, whom he had known for several years. In a 2016 SPLC interview with Bristow’s ex-wife, Ashley Herzog, she notes Heimbach and Bristow developed a close friendship beginning in 2013, talking “on the phone every night.”
The Aug. 12, 2017, “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia (which Bristow did not attend) drew increased public scrutiny of the burgeoning alt-right movement. And one of the key alt-right figures that journalists extensively covered during the next six months was Bristow, the movement’s charismatic legal consigliere.
The increased negative publicity came to a crescendo during the weekend of March 3-4, 2018, during which, with some difficulty, the FMI held a conference in Michigan. Multiple Detroit-area clubs and restaurants either canceled or rejected the FMI conference, but eventually the FMI held the event at a private home in Ann Arbor. But by then, Bristow had already announced his resignation from FMI, releasing a statement on March 3 which said, in part, that “journalists have published horrifically disparaging articles about me which contain acerbic, offensive, juvenile, and regrettable statements I mostly made over a decade ago while I was in college.” He also wrote, “In light of the recent relentless and unjustifiable vilification of me, as well as the mischaracterizations of who I am as a person, I have unilaterally made the decision to provide this clarification and to withdraw from politics.”
Spencer was sympathetic to his longtime legal advisor, telling Newsweek: “I support Kyle in whatever path he chooses to take. We’re in touch.” The following Monday, Spencer’s appearance at Michigan State drew a meager audience inside, while outside his supporters clashed with counter-protesters. Several days later, Spencer announced that he was ending his college speaking tour.
By March 16, both the website and Facebook pages for Bristow’s cherished FMI were offline. In over six months since his resignation from FMI, Bristow has not made any public comment, and his involvement with the alt-right appears to have come to an end.