This article appears in the Fall 2017 edition of The Public Eye magazine.
From July 28-30, nearly 300 White men in suits and ties—and a smattering of women—attended a sold-out American Renaissance conference, business consultant Jared Taylor’s annual spectacle of “gentlemanly,” “decorous” White supremacy.
Many of the same individuals and organizations who showed up at “AmRen” would also turn out for the violent, openly Nazi-signaling march in Charlottesville two weeks later. But at this confab, intended to attract White people just beginning to dabble in White nationalism, they hid their ideology behind the benign-sounding language of “White advocacy” and “race realism.”
“Race realism” is vitally important to understanding White nationalists’ attempts to recruit beyond their base, based on two supposedly scientific “realistic facts.” First, that White people surpass people of color in intelligence, as “proven” by racially-biased IQ tests, and second, that criminal justice statistics prove people of color’s supposed criminality. A third gambit is that history proves “increasing hatred and violence”1 when different races live together. With these pseudoscientific claims, White nationalists strive to recruit White people resistant to explicit slurs.
AmRen, one of only two U.S. White-supremacist conferences open to the press, does all it can to project an image palatable to the unconverted, who might be turned off by people wearing Nazi regalia, issuing openly antisemitic rants, or flaunting weapons or racist skinhead tattoos.
Instead, attendees are told, “gentlemen will wear jackets and ties—equivalent dress for ladies,” a dress code that Taylor told me was instituted because it “encourages a certain deportment and demeanor” that bespeaks “civilization.” The dress code, Taylor’s theatrically stern request that attendees not scuffle with protesters,2 conference organizers’ politeness with media, and AmRen’s unspoken ban on antisemitic talk were all intended to make the event seem legitimate and respectable, a worthy entrant into mainstream political discourse.
But an additional purpose of all this3 is to make the gathering seem patrician. It’s no accident that Taylor uses his Yale alumni email address for American Renaissance communications; that conference-goers talk rapturously about the annual after-party hosted by wealthy Klan lawyer Sam Dickson at an onsite bungalow conference-goers call the “villa”; or that Taylor is one of the Alt Rightists most fiercely opposed to discussing economic inequality. (In a 2014 speech, Taylor called income inequality a “phony debate,” and falsely implied that Whites are little represented among the poor.4 This in contrast with other White nationalist leaders, including AmRen attendees Richard Spencer and Greg Johnson, who express anger about exponentially rising income inequality but blame it on “the Jews.”)
Taylor takes the aristocratic aura of his 27-year-old organization very seriously. When I asked him what demands he thought White nationalists should make of the government, he demurred: “Demands are not gentlemanly.”
AmRen’s aspirational sensibility highlights the semblance—not the fact—of ruling-class membership.
Yet there is no actual evidence that AmRen attendees have higher incomes than other White people as a group. The most important reason for the AmRen dress code is the semblance—not the fact—of ruling-class membership. Speakers and attendees at the conference kept pointing out the visual difference between themselves and the protesters outside.
“We have the best people,” attendee @Manly_Task noted triumphantly on Twitter, posting a photo of seated conference-goers in business clothes and conservative haircuts. Another Alt Rightist tweeted back, “Imagine being a normie and seeing some weird, poorly dressed youths harassing a group of well-dressed white men. Wonderful optics at #AmRen.”
From the AmRen stage, Taylor called the shorts- and t-shirt-clad protesters “neither beast nor human,” and in an interview, identified them as “trash,” while Nathan Damigo, founder of the antisemitic, White supremacist campus group Identity Evropa, tweeted a photo of his members attending AmRen, dressed for all the world like the Young Bankers Association of Louisville. Shortly thereafter, Damigo tweeted, “There is nothing inherently or morally wrong with privilege.”5 Yet while Identity Evropa members had barrels of White privilege, it’s unclear that they had all that much of the economic kind; Damigo himself is an ex-con and former Marine enlistee who has described his experiences with severe PTSD,6 and who didn’t go to college until he was 28. Other IE members attending included a New York City-based veteran now in nursing school, and a young man from the lower-middle-class neighborhood of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
The three-day conference costs $150 to attend—not something the abject poor could afford, but something working- and middle-class folks could save up for. (Students got a discount.) The park hotel costs $89 a night, but AmRen also provides a list of cheaper motels in the area, and it’s possible to camp onsite in the park for less still.
While the White supremacist movement is partly about protecting privilege, that is not its only draw—for many, it’s also aspirational.
When AmRen attendees spoke about an imagined future White ethnostate, they were fantasizing about a world where “their talents” would be richly rewarded—something they see impeded by the improper advancement of people of color over themselves, and not an economic system where only the top five percent can be sure of getting the health care, housing, and social supports they need. Meeting baseline economic needs weren’t their only goals, though. In essays, tweets, and conversations, White nationalists also imagine that cultural expression, important work, lovely surroundings, and deep social ties will be provided in the White ethnostate of the future.
When AmRen attendees spoke about an imagined future White ethnostate, they were fantasizing about a world where “their talents” would be richly rewarded.
There’s a reason beautiful art and architecture from ancient Greece and Rome has become a vital visual motif for White nationalism—the flip side of Pepe and his deliberate, vicious crudeness. American Renaissance sports an Ionian column as its logo; Counter-Currents has used a carved, bearded male head from ancient Greek statuary. The National Policy Institute has employed other august, ancient Greek heads along with Doric columns, and Identity Evropa has a fake Latin name. These groups project the beauty and meaningfulness of a part of our collective past7 onto an imagined future in which they envision White people being able to realize their humanity in a way not currently available to anyone under capitalist society.
Creating a Belief in “White Intelligence”
Underlining this “unique” ability of White people to suffer and experience beauty, four of the six major conference talks were about White people’s inherent “high IQ” and creativity (or as Damigo tweeted, their “cognitive privilege,” which is “where White privilege originates”). Both rank-and-file conference-goers I interviewed, like Minnesota nurse Joan Harris, and AmRen speakers like John Derbyshire, from the virulently anti-Black, anti-immigrant group VDare, were passionate about this notion. They concluded that the reason even White Americans don’t have all their needs met is that “low-IQ” African Americans, Latinos, and immigrants are “given” the perquisites that should be theirs “by right.”
Retired Danish academic psychologist Helmuth Nyborg supplied “data” to support this notion in the first presentation of the conference: a 45-minute PowerPoint about his “Thermodynamic Solar Irradiance Selection (TSIS) Hypothesis,” which postulates that, for evolutionary reasons, “high intelligence” and the potential for “high civilization” are found only in those human beings whose ancestors were born in cold climates. Nyborg, who’s been getting White supremacist work published in academic journals for 30 years, showed charts depicting the relative brain sizes and IQs of people whose genes are alleged to have developed in “very cold, cold, average, warm, and very warm climates.” Nyborg argued that “Northern brains” had given birth to most positive traits in society, including “altruistic sociability” and “potential for democracy.” Explaining away an obvious challenge to this theory, he suggested, “The ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman empires may have been started by central European immigrants from very cold climates, who moved south!”
In fact, all human ancestry can be traced to Africa, and it’s hard to say where any individual’s genes “developed,” given the long history of human migration and mixing. But as he spoke, young White people in the audience listened raptly. Nyborg showed a map borrowed from Charles Murray, author of the notorious book The Bell Curve, to illustrate that “almost all the major advancements in science and the arts since the 14th century” came from White males whose ancestors were born in a tiny, circumscribed chunk of Europe that excluded, among other nations, Ireland, Southern Italy, Greece, and Spain.8
That pointed to another way AmRen’s White supremacy was aspirational: the idea that some White groups—primarily Irish and Southern Europeans—are inherently less intelligent and civilized than other White people; in effect, less White. Derbyshire, who is British-born, joked about Irish stupidity and licentiousness.9 Taylor said he opposed Polish immigration to Western Europe. Meanwhile, Nyborg declared that the further south one went in Europe, “the lower the IQ, the smaller the brains… the… lower quality of societies.” As historians have noted, in the U.S. prior to the 1940s, the Irish, most Southern and Eastern Europeans, as well as Jews, were frequently identified as non-White.10 But it demonstrates how, for many at AmRen, Whiteness is a quality that must be constantly striven for and “proven,” one that can be granted or taken away.
So why do White people need a movement, if they had so many genetic gifts? Starting in 1870, Nyborg revealed, “high civilization” began to “decay.” The reason: due to “improvement in food sanitation, medication, and care for the feeble…the unfit began to have more surviving children than the fit.” Nowadays, he continued, “Welfare states lead to an increase in low-IQ mothers and unfit children.” As he said this, he pointed to two words on his screen: “Black mothers.” The slide accompanying his talk alleged that the rate of Black mothers bearing “illegitimate children” had risen 67 percent because of income supports given to the poor.
Nyborg went on to bemoan high fertility rates among Muslims and the “fact” that “the fit also use contraceptive means more effectively than the others.” All across the world, he cried, growing progressively more emotional, “low-IQ winners will double in number,” and will only be capable of taking “very slow, simple, supervised jobs” of the sort “disappearing in the very cold eco-type, high-tech societies!”
He ended his talk with an elegiac slide that said, “We are watching a brilliant sun being replaced by a dim half-moon.” The only way to avoid “a new Dark Era” dominated by “the unfit,” he told the group, was to enact the “honorable repatriation of warm eco-types”—that is, to expel all non-White people from Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Appealing to Left Economic Interests
The previous evening, I’d interviewed Steve, a 32-year-old from Milwaukee who worked in retail and was attending the conference with his mother, Kris. Steve said his extended family had always held “implicitly” racist views, but they hadn’t been coherently “articulated as politics,” the way White nationalism makes them clear. Kris, a bank employee who described herself as an “Identitarian,” told me, “I think White nationalism makes a lot of sense.” She attributed the economic problems she’d seen in the U.S. over the last 10 years to “illegal immigrants who take jobs away from the people.” I also met a 60-ish man from Cleveland who said he’d donated to Bernie Sanders, but who, when Sanders failed to get the Democratic nomination, consciously went on to “vote for the biggest ass in the history of this country,” Donald Trump.
According to a massive study of 2016 election voters,11 12 percent of those who voted for Sanders in the primary voted for Trump in the general election. There are several ways to interpret this. Some pro-Clinton Democrats have ascribed it almost entirely to unwillingness to vote for a female candidate or one embraced by African-Americans. But it’s likely that, for some of these voters, certain Left economic positions (such as free college tuition and higher taxes on the rich) exist alongside racist positions on issues like immigration and police murders of African-Americans12 along with sexist reflexes in voting.
To Klan lawyer Sam Dickson, a close friend of American Renaissance who has spoken at each of its conferences since its inception in 1990, that represents an opportunity. Dickson brought up Sanders in his speech closing the event on Sunday. “In the primaries, Hillary Clinton got the Black vote, and Bernie Sanders got the White vote… It shows a racial subconscious going on, and it also shows a fundamental fissure line within the Left. There’s a rich field of Bernie Sanders leftists for us to work.” Even if you interpret Sanders’ and Clinton’s candidacies differently than Dickson does, his desire to outreach to the White Left should give us pause. As Naomi Klein recently noted, Sanders “could have won if he’d been able to win the support of just half of Black voters. But to do that, he would have needed to clearly and compellingly connect the dots between the country’s deepest economic inequalities and the persistent legacy of slavery, Jim Crow laws, and housing and financial discrimination.”13 Yet his willingness to confront economic inequities was greater than any other successful politician’s since the 1930s.
Dickson declared, “We must get away from the Left/Right dichotomy. We are racialists, not conservatives.” Others in the White supremacist movement have occasionally found Left economic issues to support: Richard Spencer came out for single-payer healthcare last March,14 and in a long interview at the conference, Greg Johnson, the virulently antisemitic publisher of Counter-Currents, told me that “the labor movement in America was one of the most heroic chapters in American history” and that he supported a guaranteed minimum income. Of course, one of the reasons he loved the (White) labor movement so much was that, as he said, most of it had championed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Although he has called himself a “man of the Right,” Johnson said, “I want to go back to that trajectory of having a large middle class [and] a strong labor movement”—though in the long run, he means one for White workers only—and large-scale research and development projects “like the war on cancer and the war on AIDS.” Johnson added, “There has been a nationalist Left, and a nationalist Center, and nationalist Right. We will not win if our ideas are entirely confined to the ghetto of the Right.”
Hiding Neonazism in Plain Sight
Though Johnson has expressed great enthusiasm for Nazi and pro-Nazi writers like Savitri Devi, Julius Evola, Miguel Serrano, and Francis Parker Yockey—in fact, he’s republishing them all through Counter-Currents—he chose to claim, in our interview, that the biggest current problem with the White nationalist movement was people “LARPing [live action role-playing] as Nazis,” “those advocating genocide,” and racist skinheads who follow the ideas of William Pierce, the author of The Turner Diaries.
Those ideas are “simply repulsive,” Johnson told me. But just two weeks later, after the march in Charlottesville, he’d engage in a radio debate with White supremacist, antifeminist activist Vox Day15 (the pen name of Theodore Beale), in which Johnson endorsed the idea that National Socialists are a “legitimate element of the Alt-Right.”16 (Additionally, long before Charlottesville, Johnson published dozens of pieces praising Hitler, including several odes to his birthday.)
There’s an easy answer to this seeming contradiction: Johnson likes real Nazis—both the historical ones and present-day “National Socialists” who write for his magazine. He just doesn’t like people dressing up as Nazis at public rallies and embarrassing the movement. Those sorts, he told me, “embrace self-marginalization” at a time when “normal American people are more receptive to this movement than ever.” (After Charlottesville, many White nationalists have been debating, like Johnson and Day, how openly to support Nazism. The argument is actually moot; both sides champion an aggressively antisemitic and openly fascist movement and only differ on how publicly to align themselves with Hitler’s historical followers.)
The attempt to hide philo-Nazism in plain sight was like AmRen’s entire project: to make White supremacist views look as moderate as possible.
Johnson’s attempt to hide his philo-Nazism in plain sight was like Jared Taylor’s entire project with AmRen: to make White supremacist views look as moderate as possible. In this light, it makes sense that for decades he’s been one of the leaders of the Council of Conservative Citizens, the reincarnation of the old White Citizens Councils that, until recent years, was openly supported by Republicans like Trent Lott, Bob Barr, and Haley Barbour, as well as a few Democrats like Bill Lord, a county chairman in Mississippi.17 Within the world of White supremacism, American Renaissance serves as a deliberately milquetoast branding device intended strictly for outreach to those yet to join the movement.
Dialectic of White Nationalism and Antisemitism
Civil rights activist Eric K. Ward has correctly noted that antisemitism “forms the theoretical core of White nationalism,”18 because White nationalists assume that people of color are too dimwitted and ineffective to fight for civil rights on their own, and thus require the secretive direction of Jews. Therefore it might seem like a contradiction that antisemitism was so carefully kept away from the AmRen stage. But if you think of AmRen’s purpose—making White nationalism palatable for the mainstream—there’s no contradiction.
If you looked, antisemitism was hiding in plain sight all over the conference, from book vendors selling The Turner Diaries, which calls for the extermination of Jews, to the neonazi Stormfront activists (like moderator Jamie Kelso) who peopled the aisles. It was even at the podium, grinning at the audience with a finger on its lips. Four prominent speakers this year had previously expressed virulent hatred of Jews: Richard Spencer, Nathan Damigo, VDare’s Peter Brimelow, and Sam Dickson. (Dickson, who closes the conference every year, has edited and written for the Holocaust-denial journals The Barnes Review19 and the Journal of Historical Review.20) Many attendees posted antisemitic tweets from the conference floor.21
AmRen and Taylor actually have an ambiguous history with antisemitism. In the past, Taylor occasionally invited light-skinned Jews who believe in White people’s genetic superiority to speak.22 But he’s also invited speakers who castigate Jews, like Holocaust denier Joseph Sobran, who gave a talk on Jewish power at AmRen 2004.23 After AmRen attendee David Duke was criticized for making anti-Jewish remarks during an audience Q&A in 2006, Taylor wrote on the conference’s website, “Jews have a valuable role in the work of American Renaissance… Anyone who thinks otherwise has the choice of staying home or keeping his views to himself.” But in a display of “both sides” equivocation that’s become familiar after Charlottesville, he also denounced the behavior of a Jewish attendee, who called Duke a “fucking Nazi,” as “disgraceful.” Making clear that he wanted to keep attracting the antisemites who constitute his base and presenters, he said he supported AmRen speakers and participants “who believe Jews play no useful role in a movement that supports white interests.” He simply wanted antisemites and Jews to agree to disagree at his conferences. “By taking no position,” Taylor said, “AR has served readers who may be sharply opposed on these questions.”24 Taylor has regularly gone on his close friend Don Black’s Stormfront radio show,25 and often hosted another good friend, Holocaust denier Mark Weber, at his home in Virginia.26
So why does it matter whether such a profoundly racist conference is also antisemitic? Ethically speaking, it makes little difference. It’s horrifying either way. But for the American political center, unfortunately, antisemitism is much worse than White supremacy. One reason is that most White Americans read light-skinned Jews as White and thus views attacks on them as more deserving of attention than attacks on people of color.27 Also, White supremacy is fundamental to America’s political economy in a way that antisemitism is not. This makes it easier for Whites to react against antisemitism than against the racism that still underpins our society. Finally, the history of Nazi Germany and the U.S. role in defeating it is widely taught in schools, making attacks on Jews highly suspect to a broad range of people.28
Yet despite the implicit racism in the view that antisemitism is worse or more morally disturbing, progressives still need to call out White nationalist attacks on Jews as much as attacks on people of color; the movement constitutes a profound danger to both groups.
Jews also function as White nationalism’s cipher for the one percent. during the heyday of Occupy, George Hocking stated baldly in Counter-Currents that Jews “are the one percent” and “America’s new ruling class.”29 More recently, antisemitic flyers posted at the University of Illinois at Chicago postulated that “the one percent” are not “straight white men” but “Jews,” and therefore that the nation’s most pressing need is “ending Jewish privilege.” On the poster, “the 99 percent” are identified as “goyim.”30
Jews also function as White nationalism’s cipher for the one percent.
For mainstream White nationalist organs today—such as NPI, Identity Evropa, the Traditionalist Worker Party, and The Occidental Observer—Jews are the energy behind banks, the finance industry, and multinational corporations, and thus the driving force behind the displacement of “working people,” whom they envision as being White. Often, these ideas dispersed by the Right have borne fruit in Left spaces. Sonia Lundy, a longtime New York activist and member of Nurses United who staffed the medical tent at the Occupy encampment in Zuccotti Park, remembers her surprise at the many young and older Occupiers who spoke to her about “the Rothschilds” controlling society and “the Jews running everything.”31
Courting the Media through Obfuscation
Paradoxically, Taylor’s patrician signaling and others’ use of Left ideas reflect a similar desire to court the media and all potential audiences not currently aligned with their movement. Indeed, outreach to journalists is one of AmRen’s most important functions. The group actively works to place its spokespeople in the media throughout the year. For AmRen 2016, Taylor personally invited a writer from Buzzfeed,32 and also scored a reporter from Talking Points Memo.33 In 2017, AmRen solicited journalists from the Guardian, Slate, and Truthout, as well as authors of progressive books on the Alt Right.34
Before he was well known, Taylor regularly appeared as a “race relations expert” on mainstream radio outlets that did not identify him as a White-supremacist activist.35 Even today, Taylor is regularly sought-after for lengthy interviews in venues like CNN, ABC News, and NPR, joking politely with a host of color about how, individually, she is probably “smarter than most White people,”36 and claiming to be offended when he’s called “White supremacist” or “racist.”
But the actual content of his yearly meetup is anything but polite, making for a schizophrenic experience for those who’ve heard him talk to different audiences. At this year’s conference, Taylor told the crowd that when African refugees try to cross the Mediterranean, people “should make it clear that the minute they get in those boats, they’re gonna get a shell below the waterline. You would only have to sink one boat, and everyone would stay home.” The same thing—immediate execution—he said should also happen “the minute” Mexicans “step across that border” into the United States.
In one breath, Taylor claimed to get hundreds of fan letters from people of color. In the next, he described the Black Lives Matter movement as “all that howling and gibbering.” In condemning Yale’s recent $50 million faculty diversity initiative,37 he said it made sense that the project cost so much, since, “Every university is looking for that same black lady physicist. It’s such hard work looking for unicorns!”
Indeed, despite its framing, openly racist talk suffused the conference. Derbyshire said he was a pessimist and believed “the gorillas”—the slur he used for African Americans—”will gain in strength and power.” Brimelow said, “Hispanics… specialize in rape, particularly of children.” And Johnson, framing his White nationalism in ecological terms during our interview, said “what is now happening to the European peoples” was “habitat loss” similar to what had previously happened to other “species” when they were “forced to compete with similar creatures.” In other words, Johnson said people of color are a nonhuman species that threaten the “habitat” of White people—the only true Homo sapiens.
Gender and Power in the White Ethnostate
On the last day of the conference, Dickson—an Atlanta real estate mogul whom the Southern Poverty Law Center says earned most of his fortune by “bullying” low-income, Black homeowners out of the deeds to their homes38—unveiled plans for the “future White ethnostate” that most in attendance hoped to achieve. “Democracy is something that is so preposterous,” Dickson said. “If some welfare recipient with an IQ of 80 has a right to vote…” (At the back of the hall, Dickson was selling a 1966 video, Africa Addio, about the savagery and stupidity of Africans,39 which was also playing on a continuous silent loop.) Instead, Dickson said the only people who would be able to vote in his imagined ethnostate would be “intelligent,” heterosexually “married men” with “legitimate children,” who had never been divorced. Men who weren’t heterosexually married, or had no children, but didn’t “suffer from personality defects,” could still run for public office. Women could neither vote nor hold office.
The women in the room—mostly young, totaling around 30 in all (about a tenth of those in attendance) and seeming to be true believers in White nationalism—said nothing.
Then Dickson went on to the issue of “how to deal with the fertility rates,” suggesting that 1930s Germany, which instituted eugenic breeding programs, might provide a model. He proposed that the state should give White men “financial incentives” to have many White children, but speculated that those wouldn’t work with women. “With women, I think there has to be emotional incentives to have children…Women with children would be allowed to wear different clothing“ that would “give them greater status than women who didn’t have children,” he announced. “They would get perks,” the more White children they bear.
At this point, the 60-something nurse, Joan Harris, turned to a young woman seated near her. “Do you think this would work with you?” she whispered. “No,” the woman replied.
Men in attendance imagined they would not only accrue rich economic rewards and decision-making power in the White ethnostate, but that women in that world would be pressured to date, have sex with, and perhaps love them. Hearing these plans sketched out, it’s unsurprising that the White nationalist movement has blended so seamlessly with the manosphere; it is offering White men a vision of the future in which everyone recognizes them as the best and the brightest, and they have guaranteed economic, social, and even sexual success.
Johnson said, “The position I favor on abortion in a White Nationalist society is that some abortions should be forbidden, others should be mandatory, but under no circumstances should they simply be a matter of a woman’s choice.”
So-called “White sharia”40—the idea that the sexuality, reproduction, daily life, and right to consent of White women should be controlled by White men in the White supremacist state—has become a controversial topic in White nationalist circles this year, and Dickson appeared to support it at least in part. Though Johnson criticized “White sharia” as anti-women in our interview, he has published articles by others defending the idea.41 And in an essay on abortion, Johnson said, “The position I favor on abortion in a White Nationalist society is that some abortions should be forbidden, others should be mandatory, but under no circumstances should they simply be a matter of a woman’s choice.”42 Richard Spencer recently made similar comments: “Contraception has been terribly dysgenic…We want to be eugenic…We want smart people to have more children. I don’t think we should, as the Alt-Right, be uncritically pro-life.”43
In other words, they believe in mandatory births, in some cases, for White women, and mandatory abortions for women of color. “The idea that every being that is human has a right to life…that’s not how we think as identitarians!” Spencer said. “We should be genuinely suspicious of people who think in terms of human rights.”44
Beyond AmRen’s functions as an orientation for newbies and a kind of media postcard, it also presents a rare opportunity for different sectors of the movement to meet and strategize. For the near term, presenters and attendees pushed electoral politics (the American Freedom Party, of which Taylor is a member, had a strong showing at AmRen and is encouraging candidates to run on the local level45); campus organizing; and their main toolkit of the past two years, combining the proliferation of websites, forums, and videos with trolling, meme dispersal, and demonstrations.
Violent and revolutionary tactics are rarely discussed from AmRen’s podium, except in allusive ways, such as this statement by Dickson in his closing talk: “The breach could come from military overreach, or the collapse of the economy… Hopefully, it will be as bloodless as possible.” But of course, other White nationalist groups do incorporate such strategies.
Charlottesville knocked the movement on its posterior. In the wake of openly neonazi chants, the battery of counter-protesters and the murder of Heather Heyer, organizations like NPI, Stormfront, and The Daily Stormer lost their web domains, and in some cases, their access to PayPal, Facebook, and YouTube. Some activists whose identities were uncovered lost jobs or the support of their families; others left the movement out of fear. This has resulted in a renewed, urgent discussion in White nationalism about tactics going forward. Recently, Eli Mosley, the new head of Identity Evropa, tweeted, “There is no possible way we can shitpost our way to victory and we must move from an online movement to the real world.” Evan McLaren, the young, new executive director Spencer has hired to help him manage NPI, engaged in an illuminating Twitter conversation with @AndreasDonner, a White nationalist who had criticized NPI and the Alt-Right for “fail[ing] to produce any plan at all to secure an ethnostate.” McLaren responded, “The ethnostate is now a more widely-contemplated idea because of Spencer and the Alt Right. We do all the things that are preconditions to the ethnostate. But preparing people for this task requires a broader kulturkampf.”
Charlottesville knocked the movement on its posterior, resulting in an urgent discussion about tactics going forward.
Spencer himself is focusing on highly publicized attempts to book talks on college campuses, with the intention of generating media coverage when universities push back. Meanwhile, at AmRen, a leader of the German and Austrian Identitäre Bewegung (“Identity Movement”), Martin Lichtmesz, urged Americans to adopt strategies he’s found effective in Europe: nonviolent direct action reminiscent of ACT UP, the radical U.S. AIDS activist group that succeeded in changing the national conversation in the ‘80s and ‘90s, albeit to a wildly different, far more ethical end. Lichtmesz’s movement has generated enormous publicity by scaling the Brandenburg Gate with mountaineering equipment and hanging a banner reading “Secure Borders, Secure Future”; covering the famous Vienna statue of 18th Century empress Maria Theresia with a burqa; and disrupting a pro-refugee theater performance with fake blood.
These theatrical, “audacious” protests, Lichtmesz said, were “designed to gain public sympathy.” By using forms of protest pioneered by the Left and employing the “progressive” language of Identitarianism (the idea “that every people has a right to their homeland, and to defend its own culture, identity, and heritage,” as Lichtmesz put it), while steering clear of explicitly racist and neonazi rhetoric, American White nationalists might win new converts, too. (Then again, Lichtmesz donned a Confederate flag lapel pin at the conference; it’s unlikely the U.S. movement has the discipline to suppress overt racism in pursuit of their agenda, either.)
What should the Left’s response be? In this case, the opposite of one-off theatrical actions and Instagram-able protests: a long-haul, multiracial, grassroots effort to educate the country on the profound connections between race and class (and the connections of both to gender).
If we are to learn anything from the eruption of fascist, White supremacist organizing on both sides of the Atlantic, it should be that economic crisis and class conflict can accrue to the benefit of the Right as easily as the Left.
It’s a tall order, I know. But if we are to learn anything from the eruption of fascist, White supremacist organizing on both sides of the Atlantic, it should be that economic crisis and class conflict can accrue to the benefit of the Right as easily as the Left. It should be that, as labor historian Jefferson Cowie recently put it, “real world” working-class politics in America “is a messy stew of populist, communitarian, reactionary, progressive, racist, patriarchal, and nativist ingredients.”46 It should be that no group or class in America is inherently progressive, and no division lifted above others as essential.
Candid, self-supporting but nonjudgmental solidarity is the only way forward: a true integration of issues (gender, race, class, sexuality, and others) with multi-issue education. A fight that targets systems, not “elites” who can turn into amorphous scapegoats, and radical coalition-building that combines assertiveness and humility are needed. It’s a daunting task, but nothing less is required.
1 Greg Johnson, interview with author, July 29, 2017.
2 Some declined to follow this directive. Less than a dozen AmRen attendees got in shouting matches with protesters, and an attendee and a demonstrator were involved in a violent scuffle that resulted in arrests for both.
3 Except the antisemitic ban, which is not intended to signal wealth, but moderation and respectability.
4Jared Taylor, “Income Inequality: The Debate Ignores Race,” Amren.com, https://www.amren.com/features/2014/01/income-inequality-the-debate-ignores-race/.
5 Following his arrest in Charlottesville, Damigo (one of the organizers of the Charlottesville Unite the Right demonstrations) stepped down as CEO of Identity Evropa, but he remains committed to White nationalism.
6 Documentary Storm, “Warton: In Every War, There are Invisible Wounds,” Documentarystorm.com, https://documentarystorm.com/wartorn/. HBO, “Interview with Charilyn Damigo,” HBO, http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/wartorn-1861-2010/interview/interview-with-charilyn-damigo.html.
7 It’s worth noting that ancient Greece and Rome were multicultural societies, and that the modern category of race did not exist there. The only ethnic group ancient Greeks were likely to condemn as inferior was Persians (after the Persian war); for ancient Romans, it was Germans, Britons, and Gauls.
8 Charles Murray, Human Accomplishment in the Arts and Sciences: The Pursuit of Excellence, 800 BC to 1950 (New York: Harper, 2003).
9 In the context of mocking a human genome research project in Ireland, Derbyshire said in a heavy Irish accent, “‘Hold there, Bridget, I just want to take down your genes (jeans)!’ ‘Michael! Away with your filthy talk!’” Then he said, “What, I can’t tell an ethnic joke at American Renaissance?”
10 See, for example, David B. Roediger, Working toward Whiteness: How America’s Immigrants Became White (New York: Basic Books, 2005).
11Stephen Ansolabehere and Brian Schaffner. “CCES Common Content, 2016.” Dataverse.harvard.com, https://dataverse.harvard.edu/dataset.xhtml?persistentId=doi%3A10.7910/DVN/GDF6Z0.
12 For an excellent analysis of political contradictions in the white working class, see: Jefferson Cowie. “How Labor Scholars Missed the Trump Revolt,” chronicle.com, http://www.chronicle.com/article/How-Labor-Scholars-Missed-the/241049.
13 Naomi Klein, No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Policies and Winning the World We Need, (Chicago: Haymarket, 2017),124-125.
14 Richard Spencer, “Why Trump Must Champion National Healthcare.” Altright.com, https://altright.com/2017/03/23/why-trump-must-champion-universal-healthcare/.
15 Jay Hathaway, “How Gamgergate Radicals Seized Sci-Fi’s Most Prestigious Awards”. Gawker, http://gawker.com/how-gamergate-radicals-seized-sci-fis-most-prestigious-1696731611. See also: Jeet Heer. “Science Fiction’s White Boys’ Club Strikes Back.” Newrepublic.com, https://newrepublic.com/article/121554/2015-hugo-awards-and-history-science-fiction-culture-wars.
17 Amber Phillips, “The Political Success of the Council of Conservative Citizens, Explained,” Washington Post, June 22, 2015.
18 Eric K. Ward, “Skin in the Game: How Antisemitism Animates White Nationalism,” The Public Eye, Summer 2017.
19 E.g. Sam Dickson, “Shattering the Icon of Lincoln,” The Barnes Review, Volume XII, Number 1, January/February 2006, http://barnesreview.org/shattering-the-icon-of-lincoln/; Sam Dickson, “Willis Carto: An Obituary,” The Barnes Review, October 30, 2015, http://barnesreview.org/willis-carto-an-obituary/. See also: Alexander Zaitchik, “How Klan Lawyer Sam Dickson Got Rich,” SPLC Intelligence Report, 2006 Fall Issue, October 19, 2006.
21 For example, see @FashyHaircut (Nathan Damigo): https://twitter.com/fatherlandradio/status/890804669030649857?refsrc=email&s=11 Also, https://twitter.com/nathandamigo/status/894314789446467584?refsrc=email&s=11 and https://twitter.com/nathandamigo/status/896037155440480256?refsrc=email&s=11.
22 Heidi Beirich and Mark Potok, “Schism Over Antisemitism Divides Key White Nationalist Group, American Renaissance,” SPLC Intelligence Report, August 11, 2006. Also, Jared Taylor, “Jews and American Renaissance,” American Renaissance, May 2006, https://www.amren.com/news/2006/04/jews_and_americ/. Additionally, see this list of the 15 American Renaissance conferences and their speakers: https://www.amren.com/archives/conferences/.
23 Beirich and Potok, op. cit.
24 Ibid. See also, Taylor, op. cit., and “One-Time American Renaissance Writer Ian Jobling Repudiates Racist Editor Jared Taylor,” SPLC Intelligence Report, 2012 Winter Issue, November 11th, 2012.
26 “One Time American Renaissance Writer Ian Jobling…,” op. cit.
Hunter Wallace (Brad Griffin), “Jared Taylor: Friend or Foe?”, Occidental Dissent, July 26, 2009, http://www.occidentaldissent.com/2009/07/26/jared-taylor-friend-or-foe/. “American Renaissance’s Jared Taylor Goes Full Anti-Semite,” Anti-Fascist News, August 26, 2016, https://antifascistnews.net/2016/08/26/american-renaissances-jared-taylor-goes-full-anti-semite/.
27 For example, in a 2017 study by the ADL 14 percent of American survey respondents expressed antisemitic attitudes. (https://www.adl.org/sites/default/files/documents/ADL_MS_Survey_Pres_1_25_17.pdf ) In comparable 2012 data from the General Social Survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, 21-45 percent of White Americans gave racist responses to a variety of questions about African-Americans, such as whether it is okay to discriminate against them in housing and whether African-Americans are less hard-working than White people. (https://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/30/upshot/dont-be-surprised-that-people-still-say-racist-things.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&smid=tw-upshot&_r=0).
28 Nearly absent in the political debate is the fact that there are Jews of color, and still other Jews—including many Sephardim and Mizrahi—to whom the prevailing social apparatus has not yet conclusively assigned a race. And of course, nearly all White nationalists have already consigned all Jews to the category of non-White.
29 George Hocking, “Who Are the One Percent?” Counter-Currents, December 16, 2011.
30 Daniel J. Solomon, “End Jewish Privilege Poster Circulates on Chicago College Campus,” The Forward, March 16th, 2017.
31 Phone interview with Sonia Lundy, September 26, 2017.
32 Rosie Gray, “Inside a White Nationalist Conference Energized by Trump’s Rise,” Buzzfeed, May 26, 2016, https://www.buzzfeed.com/rosiegray/inside-a-white-nationalist-conference-energized-by-trumps-ri?utm_term=.fa7kdAVo#.hqokRNKr.
33 Allegra Kirkland, “Great White Hope: Trump Unites Generations of White Nationalists,” Talking Points Memo, May 24, 2016, http://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/trump-american-renaissance-2016-conference.
34 Personal communications with the invited reporters.
35 Dennis Roddy, “Jared Taylor: A Racist in the Guise of ‘Expert,’” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 23, 2005. American Renaissance gets more than one benefit from this aspect of its branding; the group files with the IRS as a tax-exempt “charitable organization” on “intergroup/race relations” and “civil rights.” guidestar.org/profile/61-6212159.
36Sara Sidner interview with Jared Taylor, “Concerns Grow Over Racist Incidents on Campus,” CNN, May 15, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2017/05/15/racist-incidents-college-campuses-dnt-sidner-lead.cnn/video/playlists/racist-incidents/.\
37 “Initiative for Faculty Excellence and Diversity: Update,” Yale University, August 31, 2016.
38 Zaitchik, op. cit.
39Roger Ebert, “Africa Addio” rogerebert.com, http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/africa-addio-1967.
40 Andrew Anglin, “Revealing the Esoteric Nature of the White Sharia Meme”, dailystormer.com; archived version http://archive.is/jHbvJ.
41Sacco Vandal, “In Defense of White Sharia”, Counter-Currents, https://www.counter-currents.com/2017/06/in-defense-of-white-sharia/.
42 Greg Johnson, “Abortion and White Nationalism”, Counter-Currents, https://www.counter-currents.com/2016/04/abortion-and-white-nationalism/.
43 Richard Spencer, “Why Tomi Lahren is Right on Abortion”, filmed March 20, 2017, video, 20:19, https://altright.com/2017/03/20/why-tomi-lahren-is-rights-on-abortion/.
44 Ibid. On other occasions, Johnson has echoed Spencer, calling contraception “dysgenic” because it allegedly leads to fewer births by the “fit.” Greg Johnson, “To a Reluctant Bridegroom”, Counter-currents, https://www.counter-currents.com/2015/11/to-a-reluctant-bridegroom/.
45 Originally founded by racist skinheads in California, the AFP’s leadership also includes Kevin MacDonald, the leading antisemitic speaker and writer in the United States, and Jamie Kelso of Stormfront. See http://american3rdposition.com/speakers-bureau/; http://american3rdposition.com/category/leadership/ ; and https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/american-freedom-party.
46 Cowie, op. cit.