About Peter Brimelow
Peter Brimelow’s career as an anti-immigrant proponent spans three decades. He’s been one of the leading voices in the movement since the mid-1990s. The former Forbes editor and National Review columnist founded VDARE in 1999, and the site soon became a haven for anti-immigrant and white nationalist commentators. Throughout the Trump era, Brimelow and VDARE have further cozied up to the white nationalist fringe.
In His Own Words
“The Dissident Right is an intellectual movement. Our ideas are considered dangerous by [mainstream media] Cultural Marxists, but we’re actually quite few. What you saw on the Mall and even in the Capitol was not an intellectual movement – it was the American people.” – Peter Brimelow, in a VDARE.com post on the Capitol insurrection, Jan. 14, 2021
“The good news: massacres like this, and the Muslim atrocities that apparently provoked [the alleged terrorist behind the Christchurch, New Zealand, massacre], are still preventable – by ending mass Third World immigration. The bad news: Western elites just won’t do it. They prefer repressing the white host nations. But it won’t work.” – Peter Brimelow, in a VDARE.com post on the terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 17, 2019
“My heart is with civic nationalism, but my head is with racial nationalism.” – Peter Brimelow, in an interview with Slate at CPAC, Feb. 23, 2018
“But there’s no doubt that something in that book got to [President Donald Trump], because the way his speech was set up. His announcement speech went to the question of Hispanic crime, specifically rape. And [Ann Coulter]’s book is a very powerful statement of the fact that crime in this country is ethnically variegated. There’s ethnic specialization in crime. And Hispanics do specialize in rape, particularly of children. They’re very prone to it, compared to other groups.” – On President Trump’s immigration policies at the American Renaissance conference, 2017
“My considered reaction to Dunkirk: People should be hung from lampposts – they should be burned alive–for what they’ve done to Britain.” – Peter Brimelow, in a review of the movie “Dunkirk,” July 27, 2017
“We’re facing what was called in the case of the Civil War an irrepressible conflict. But this is America. People have guns. It will come to blood.” – Peter Brimelow, in a VDARE.com post, Jan. 22, 2017
“I do think I can claim to be, not a godfather of the Alt Right, but sort of a god-uncle or something like that. ” – Peter Brimelow at the November 2016 National Policy Institute conference, Nov. 23, 2016, referring to the internet-focused white supremacist movement that surged in influence during Trump’s rise.
Peter Brimelow’s career as one of the leading voices in the anti-immigrant movement began in the 1990s, with the release of his 1995 book Alien Nation, based on an earlier feature-length article he wrote for National Review titled “Time to Rethink Immigration?” At the time of Alien Nation’s release, Brimelow wrote for a number of mainstream publications, including the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch, Forbes and, at least until he was forced out in 1997 – over the magazine’s supposed effort to take out some of the white nationalists within its ranks – the National Review. Members of both the nativist and white nationalist movement have since held up Alien Nation as a seminal text.
In Alien Nation, Brimelow argued that post-1965 immigration policies had resulted in an uncontrollable tide of non-white immigration, which resulted in the “imminent, unprecedented, ethnic and racial transformation of America.” The America that Brimelow claimed had been transformed was one that had, in his view, always had “a specific ethnic core,” which he noted bluntly was “white.” Brimelow has noted in the past that he also considered concluding the book with a fictional tale describing “the flight of the last white family from Los Angeles.” Brimelow’s argument in Alien Nation mirrored the same themes central to the white nationalist belief in “white genocide.” The term refers to a racist conspiracy theory that essentially claims whites are being systematically replaced by non-whites, such as through an influx of non-white immigration.
As later reporting would reveal, Brimelow and Alien Nation were more closely connected to the extreme right than Brimelow’s status as a columnist for more mainstream publications would indicate. John Tanton, the founder of the modern nativist movement, corresponded with Brimelow extensively about his book, papers from the University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library revealed. As the Southern Poverty Law Center reported in 2008, Tanton wrote in one 1995 memo that he had “encouraged Brimelow to write his book,” as well as had “provided the necessary research funds to get it done.” This included not only connecting Brimelow to potential funders, but also dispensing some funds of his own to support Brimelow’s book tour and other publicizing efforts. Indeed, it was Tanton who encouraged conservative philanthropist Cordelia Scaife May to pay for Brimelow’s research assistant, Joseph Fallon, for Alien Nation. (Fallon later was appointed a member of the VDARE Foundation’s board, according to tax documents.)
In the years to come, Alien Nation helped draw Brimelow away from mainstream media in order to pursue his own nativist ventures. In 1999, Brimelow established the Center for American Unity, of which VDARE.com was a part. The site was named after Virginia Dare, who was the first English child to be born in the New World in 1587 and has been a persistent and potent symbol of white supremacy dating back to the 19th century. Some of the site’s early contributors included Joseph Fallon (Brimelow’s main researcher on Alien Nation) and Brimelow’s twin brother John. Steve Sailer – a proponent of scientific racism who, like Brimelow, was pushed out of the National Review in the 1990s – has been one of the site’s longtime contributors as well. It also served as a home for archives of columns from such men as Sam Francis, the late editor of the newspaper of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens.
In 2007, VDARE.com split from the Center for American Unity and was reorganized, albeit still under Brimelow’s leadership, under the auspices of the VDARE Foundation. Throughout the 2010s, Brimelow transformed VDARE from a relatively obscure nativist blog into a site that, through its intense, critical focus on non-white immigration and willingness to attack mainstream conservatives for being insufficiently supportive of nativist policies, provided a bridge between the anti-immigrant right and the white nationalist movement.
Throughout the Trump era in particular, VDARE provided a platform for some of the white nationalist movement’s most important propagandists, whom Brimelow has characterized as natural byproducts of American immigration policy.
The ‘god-uncle’ of the alt-right
Brimelow, who once described himself as aligned with “racial nationalism,” has derided efforts to characterize both him and his site as “white nationalist” as “guilt-by-association conspiracy theories.” At one point he sued The New York Times over the use of such classification. Instead, Brimelow has chosen to refer to both himself and his website adhering to a form of civic nationalism. However, the roster of VDARE’s contributors, both historically and at present, belies these efforts. Brimelow lost the lawsuit in 2020.
VDARE has long attracted proponents of scientific racism, such as Jared Taylor, the editor of the white nationalist site American Renaissance, and Kevin MacDonald, an antisemitic psychology professor at California State University, Long Beach. Other prominent white nationalist contributors include and “Unite the Right” organizer Jason Kessler, who writes regularly for the site about legal issues facing the white nationalists and neo-Nazis who organized the deadly rally. Finally, Kevin DeAnna, a longtime white nationalist propagandist, has written for the site since 2011 under the pseudonym James Kirkpatrick while simultaneously moonlighting at a number of other white nationalist sites. As Hatewatch reported in March 2020, DeAnna has also provided editorial and social media support for the organization at various points throughout the years.
Furthermore, Brimelow has addressed crowds at a number of white nationalist events, including ones hosted by Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute, American Renaissance and the H.L. Mencken Club. At the American Renaissance conference in 2015, held annually at the Montgomery Bell State Park in Tennessee, Brimelow alluded to the “white genocide” conspiracy theory once again, claiming that those who sought to suppress the white population in the United States “know they are very close to the tipping point, and that is why the new red terror is so intense.” He said those who disagreed with his racist beliefs were members of a “lynch mob.”
In the early Trump era, Brimelow would come to characterize himself not as a “godfather” of the alt-right but as a mentor, of sorts. The godfather term was often reserved for Paul Gottfried, the founder of the white nationalist H.L. Mencken Club and a longtime associate of Brimelow, whose 2008 speech outlining a new direction for the paleoconservative movement has been credited with birthing the alt-right. At a conference hosted by the National Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., in November 2016, Brimelow described himself as “sort of a god-uncle or something like that” for the movement. He was referring, in part, to a column that he wrote in 2006, which posited that changing demographics as a result of non-white immigration would lead to growing interest in white nationalist ideals – a point he has reiterated elsewhere, including after acts of white supremacist terrorism, as well. “If you don’t like the ideas of whites organizing to defend their interests,” Brimelow told the audience at the 2011 American Renaissance conference, citing VDARE contributor Steve Sailer, “Maybe you should have thought of that before driving them into a minority through immigration policy.”
However, it was also a clear nod to how VDARE.com’s nativist ideals had been transformed to meet the needs of a younger generation of far-right extremists. It provided a platform to alt-right propagandists, such as Kevin DeAnna, whose work was circulated by more mainstream anti-immigrant groups. (For instance, one Hatewatch investigation found that the Tanton-tied Center for Immigration Studies linked to over 1,700 VDARE articles between 2007 and 2017 in their newsletters.) In turn, DeAnna and others helped reappropriate Brimelow’s nativist message for an increasingly younger, and increasingly radical, audience.
Brimelow’s ties to the mainstream right
Brimelow’s career writing for mainstream journalistic outlets and right-wing publications prior to VDARE’s founding has granted him a degree of connectivity to the American right that others within today’s white nationalist movement have been unable, or at the very least struggled, to achieve. Nowhere was this more evident than a $1.5 million donation from the conservative dark money fund DonorsTrust, one of the preferred funding vehicles for Republican billionaire families, which was given to the VDARE Foundation in 2019.
At times, these connections have been more veiled. Still, throughout the Trump era, the connections between those within the pro-Trump movement – including senior positions in the administration – and Brimelow, not to mention VDARE more broadly, became readily apparent.
In 2018, Trump economic advisor Larry Kudlow invited Brimelow to his home for a birthday party. The event took place during Kudlow’s tenure in the administration. When questioned by The Washington Post, Kudlow denied knowing about Brimelow’s affiliations with the white nationalist movement, telling the Post that his views on immigration and race were “a side of Peter that I don’t know.”
Kudlow, in other words, was far from the first. Indeed, the day before the Post’s story on the event, Darren Beattie, a White House speechwriter, was terminated following news that he had appeared on a panel alongside Brimelow at the H.L. Mencken Club in 2016.
Stephen Miller, the Trump administration’s former senior adviser for policy, invited Brimelow to speak at Duke University in 2007 while an undergraduate. As Hatewatch reported in 2019, Miller also forwarded a link to a Sailer-authored post from VDARE’s website to former Breitbart editor Katie McHugh in 2015 while he was an aide in then-Sen. Jeff Sessions’ office. (McHugh has since renounced her racist views and past affiliations.) Other emails from McHugh revealed that Julia Hahn, who worked with McHugh at Breitbart and subsequently took a job in the administration as special assistant to Trump, was connected to Brimelow as well, at one point casually referring to him by his first name.
However, in other cases, Brimelow’s connections to the more mainstream right have served as a marketing tool. For instance, one email call for donations from August 2018 – according to a trove of emails provided to the Southern Poverty Law Center by McHugh – claimed that one could draw a “direct line of influence” between Brimelow, far-right pundit Ann Coulter, and Trump. In particular, it referenced a quote from Coulter praising Brimelow’s 14,000-word anti-immigrant essay, “Time to Rethink Immigration?” – the predecessor to Alien Nation.
In November 2016, VDARE contributor Kevin DeAnna claimed Coulter had encouraged him to reach out to other white nationalists for positions in the Trump administration.
Coulter, for her part, has cited Brimelow as the main reason she shifted her views on immigration in the first place. In a June 2015 interview with the paleoconservative magazine Chronicles, Coulter said she first became interested in the topic as a result of Brimelow’s National Review essay. “[But] then I never wrote about it,” she said. “And since I [have] become a writer, Peter has been haranguing me, demanding to know why I haven’t written about immigration. I kept telling him, because you said it all. I’ve nothing new to say.”
Brimelow’s coziness with the institutions associated with the pro-Trump right were further detailed in a May 2022 report in The New York Times. As of 2018, Brimelow reportedly worked directly with Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire proprietor of Fox News’ parent company, Fox Corporation, according to the Times. The newspaper reported that Fox employees discovered Brimelow’s involvement with Murdoch after reviewing a formal organizational chart that it made public to through a company employee portal. After employees asked about the relationship between Murdoch and Brimelow, the Times noted that “the organizational chart was taken down entirely.” In response to the Times’s request for comment, a Fox spokesperson told the paper that Brimelow was no longer involved in the company.
Brimelow responded to the Times’s multipart investigation in a piece on VDARE’s site, characterizing it as a series of “hit jobs.”
“I’ve known Rupert Murdoch for more than thirty years,” he continued. “And the NYT apparently thinks, if Murdoch knew allegedly neo-Nazi me, maybe that means his employee Tucker Carlson can also be smeared [as] a neo-Nazi!!!”