A Truce In The Battle For The Soul Of American White Nationalism?
Richard Spencer seems to have given up on putting a spin for reporters on what happened during the National Policy Institute conference last month, when his supporters responded to a toast by throwing stiff-arm Nazi salutes to the stage with cries of “Hail Trump!”
In the media maelstrom that followed, Spencer was quick to dismiss criticisms that his suit-and-tie class of racists had gone full-on Nazi by claiming the salutes were simply a misunderstood expression of “exuberance and irony.” But it’s almost impossible to believe that now.
Last week, Spencer sat down for an interview with two leading extremists on the “Alt-Right”: Mike Enoch who runs TheRightStuff.biz blog and Andrew Anglin, whose website The Daily Stormer –– a site that has surpassed the popularity long held by Don Black’s Stormfront –– traffics in endlessly vile anti-Semitic memes and heralds President-elect Donald Trump as “Our Glorious Leader.” The interview was posted on Enoch’s blog under the title “Between Two Lampshades,” a crude reference to the post-World War II myth that the skin of victims of the Buchenwald concentration camp had been used to make lampshades.
Calling the interview the first meeting of the “The Triumvirate,” the conversation turns on discussing their hopes for a new America under Trump and the possibilities of an ethnostate that would halt illegal immigration and give way to an all-out assault on immigration from any non-European nation. (It’s worth noting that all three are in favor of eugenics and IQ tests to determine the suitability of people to be citizens.)
In clear terms, the interview was a public relations effort for the newly united front between Spencer, a trust fund beneficiary, Anglin, an internet troll known for bragging in a video leaked online about his “jailbait,” Filipino girlfriend, and an obscure New York blogger who frequently appears on Spencer’s podcast. But Spencer seems to be willing to forge an alliance with the very factions of the Alt-Right he has tried to distance himself from using his family’s wealth and his own educational pedigree.
In order to cast their movement as the sole alternative to the current political paradigm, and not a collection of reactionaries with selective historical literacy, the trio attempts to project itself as a collective of racially awakened activists tugging at the levers of power. They claim to endorse universal healthcare, nuclear energy and public transit as worthwhile public goods in a socialist society, while criticizing non-whites as “rent-seekers,” incapable of developing and maintaining civilization.
They justify this with some interesting mental gymnastics. Spencer claims blacks view civilization and culture as a “zero sum game.” This is in fact a projection of the core of the “Alt-Right” worldview, that any gains in the fields of social justice or race relations for non-whites represent a net loss for whites. While he stops short of Anglin’s calls for genocide, Spencer makes it clear that in his imagined ethnostate, non-Europeans and “others” would be removed with the express intent of returning America to its “Anglo-Protestant core.”
Anglin’s hatred of the Jews was once cast by Spencer-proxy Collin Liddell as “transmogrified fear," an inversion of “Jewish Supremacy” that warped Anglin into a head-shaving, swastika-adorned internet troll. But in the “Triumvirate” interview, Spencer describes Anglin’s preoccupation with Jews as an acceptable reaction to a “tragic, parasitic relationship.” He and Enoch spend considerable time discussing their shared belief that Jews exist as a novel example of tribal evolution in global history.
Judging by the speaking time allotted to each, a clear hierarchy is at play. While dominating the interview, Spencer feigns humility and repeatedly references how prior conversations he had with Enoch helped him develop talking points for interviews. Enoch, who regularly syndicates Anglin’s content, speaks second-most, frequently attempting to bridge the gap between Spencer’s “thoughts” on the movement and Anglin’s meme-speak. But Anglin's presence is curious.
It wasn’t long ago that Anglin declared “total war” on Spencer after Alternative Right, Spencer’s former blog, posted an article titled, “Andrew Anglin’s Inverted Ghetto.”
In the article, Liddell, described by Anglin as “Chief Servant of Richard Spencer," lambasted “Anglin’s track record – using the crudest racist imagery and boldly associating his message with the most demonized members of the most demonized regime in the modern age (without even a hint of irony).” Liddell also asserted that Anglin is “a paid shill and agent provocateur, whose purpose is simply to infest and discredit White nationalism.”
That last statement obviously struck a nerve.
In the aftermath, Anglin dedicated considerable energy to denigrating Spencer’s craven attempts to position himself at the forefront the Alt-Right. How interesting, then, that since the interview, Anglin has gone to war for his newfound ally and summoned his followers to lead an attack against critics of Spencer in Whitefish, Mont., where Spencer lives part-time.
In response to community members being increasingly critical of Spencer’s mother for funding her son’s campaign of intolerance, Anglin posted a piece on Monday that detailed the names, occupations, contact information and pictures of those he sees as Spencer’s enemies.
How then did Spencer and Anglin come to bury the hatchet? Is it perhaps a moment of three racists willing to settle their beefs for the good of the movement? Or is it, as seems more likely, would-be “intellectuals” whose racist perspectives are shades of gray on the spectrum of racist thought finally agreeing to blend into one?
Despite maneuvering to anoint themselves as some Alt-Right collective, a brain trust, the fawning deference even racists give to Spencer makes apparent their divisions –– divisions in style, intelligence, substance and class. It is a marriage of convenience, one that Spencer seems willing to entertain even at the cost of his own steadily degrading image, one that Enoch is willing to engage in because it helps his relevance, and one that Anglin is energized to be a part of because it makes him seem smarter than he is.