I have many Jewish friends who find gentile nationalisms, particularly white nationalism, terrifying.
Nationalism means that you are devoted to your people. Jews are devoted to their people. Why shouldn’t goyim be devoted to their people?
To me, it’s not scary that there are white supremacists. There’s no inherent connection between that ideology and violence, any more than there is an inherent connection between Christian supremacism, Jewish supremacism, Islamic supremacism, black supremacism, etc, and violence.
It’s not scary when people hate your group. At one time or another, I’ve felt fleeting hatred for almost every group I’ve known and I expect most people have experienced similar emotions.
Genocide happens when there is a dramatic clash of interests. Just because someone hates Jews or blacks or Christians is not a reliable predictor that the person is going to become violent.
Negative feelings about Jews are called anti-Semitism yet the Jewish Bible is filled with negative sentiments about Jews and Jews still regard the book as holy.
Just as I don’t hate any particular group of people, I don’t hate the MSM. They’re probably my primary source of information about the world. I take into account their biases and read them anyway.
This summer, after a loose coalition of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and Confederate apologists announced that they would hold a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, promotional flyers began to circulate on the Internet. The flyers included a list of names: the self-proclaimed thought leaders who planned to speak at the rally, arranged, Coachella-like, in order of prominence. At the top of the list was Richard Spencer, who coined the term “alt-right” almost a decade ago, and who has been so successful at making himself the poster boy of the movement that he was once sucker punched while standing on a sidewalk in Washington, D.C. Farther down the list were Jason Kessler, the Charlottesville resident who organized the rally; Matthew Heimbach, who has been called “the affable, youthful face of hate in America”; and Christopher Cantwell, who would later star in a Vice documentary about Charlottesville, unpacking a small arsenal of guns and saying, among other things, “We’re not nonviolent—we’ll fucking kill these people if we have to.”
The second person listed on the flyers, immediately below Spencer, was a white-nationalist shock jock named Mike Enoch. The name might have been unfamiliar to most Americans, but, to an inner cadre of Web-fluent neo-fascists, Enoch is an influential and divisive figure. In May, David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, tweeted, “Hate him or love him—Mike Enoch is someone to pay close attention to.” Just three years ago, Enoch could be heard mocking Spencer (“talks like a fag”) and Cantwell (“a dickhead turtle”), criticizing their ideologies as too extreme. But that was before his radicalization was complete. These days, Enoch routinely refers to African-Americans as “animals” and “savages,” and expresses “skepticism” about how many Jews died in the Holocaust. Apart from interviews with Spencer and Cantwell, who are now his close friends and ideological allies, he largely eschews attention from the media. He prefers to speak—voluminously, articulately, and with an uncanny lack of emotion—on his own podcast, “The Daily Shoah.” (The title, a pun about the Holocaust by way of Comedy Central, reflects the overall tone of the show.) “The Daily Shoah” is the most popular of more than two dozen podcasts on the Right Stuff, a Web site that Enoch founded in 2012. Once an obscure blog about “post-libertarian” politics, the site is now a breeding ground for some of the most florid racism on the Internet. One of its pages is set up to accept donations, in dollars or bitcoins; another is devoted to “fashy memes,” songs and images that extol fascism in an antic, joking-but-not-joking tone. The podcasts—meandering, amateurish talk shows hosted by bilious young men who make Rush Limbaugh sound like Mr. Rogers—are not available on iTunes, Spotify, or any other major platform, and yet collectively they draw tens of thousands of listeners a week.
The Charlottesville rally, on August 12th, immediately erupted in violence, and the police shut it down before any of the speakers could take the stage. A few of them reconvened in a park two miles away. Enoch, surrounded by small concentric circles of reporters, protesters, and counterprotesters, stood on a wooden riser in the shade of a dogwood tree. A tall, stout man with a husky voice and a grim, downturned mouth, he wore aviator sunglasses, a slight beard, and the unofficial uniform of the day: khakis and a white polo shirt. “We’re here to talk about white genocide, the deliberate and intentional displacement of the white race,” he said. “Have we heard this conspiracy theory of white privilege? This is a concept that was brought to us by Jewish intellectuals, to undermine our confidence in ourselves.” He finished his remarks and introduced the next speaker, David Duke. An hour later, James Alex Fields, Jr., wearing khakis and a white polo, drove a car into a crowd of people, killing Heather Heyer, a local counterprotester.
Enoch’s father, who is also named Mike, spent that Saturday at home. He lives in an upper-middle-class New Jersey suburb that is often listed among the most progressive towns in the country. “I made breakfast, and at some point I mowed the lawn,” he said recently. “Then, as I do every day, I sat down to read the New York Times.” He saw a photograph of a torch-wielding mob taken in Charlottesville the previous night. “I looked at the picture for a while, and I couldn’t find Mike anywhere,” he said. He scrutinized other photos online, and still didn’t see his son. “I said, ‘Thank God,’ and I went about my day.”
On Sunday, after he got home from church, he saw that a relative had e-mailed him a YouTube link. He clicked on it: his son and David Duke, standing shoulder to shoulder. “It turned my stomach,” he said. “Until that moment, I had imagined that, whatever had caused him to go down this path, it could somehow be reversed, and he could come home again.”
Most of the bloggers and commenters on the Right Stuff use pseudonyms—Sneering Imperialist, Toilet Law, Ebolamericana, Death. “Mike Enoch” is a pseudonym, too. Over the years, on “The Daily Shoah,” he occasionally dropped hints about his identity, though he was careful not to reveal too much. He said that he lived with his wife in New York City—“which narrows it down to me and eight million other people”—and that he worked at a “normie” day job, which he would surely lose if his employers ever learned about his alter ego. As a child, he had attended church camps and public schools, where he’d been “programmed” to believe in universalism and equality. Most members of his immediate family were still “shitlibs”—committed liberals who had not yet seen the error of their ways.
In January, a group of anti-fascist activists dug up his personal information and released it against his will—an Internet-specific form of retribution known as doxing. Mike Enoch was actually Michael Enoch Isaac Peinovich, a thirty-nine-year-old computer programmer who worked at an e-publishing company and lived on the Upper East Side. As predicted, he lost his job. Someone printed out color photographs of his face and pasted them to telephone poles on the corner of Eighty-second Street and York Avenue: “Say Hi to Your Neo-Nazi Neighbor, Mike Peinovich!” The dox revealed that he had an older sister, a social worker who treated traumatized children, and an adopted younger brother, who was biracial and cognitively impaired. Perhaps most baffling of all, Mike’s wife, who was also identified in the dox, turned out to be Jewish.
At first, Enoch tried to insist that he wasn’t Peinovich, but he soon put up a post on the Right Stuff confirming his identity: “I won’t even bother denying it.” On white-nationalist message boards, including the Right Stuff itself, a few commenters accused Enoch of being “controlled opposition,” or demanded that he divorce his wife. (“I can’t believe all you fags still support this Jew fucker!”) Some held out for more information (“How Jewish? Because if 1/4 or less, I don’t give a shit”); others changed the subject (“I’m more disappointed by how fat he is than anything”).
A few days later, on “The Daily Shoah,” Enoch and his co-hosts read dozens of notes from listeners who were remaining loyal to the podcast, some of whom had donated money to Enoch in his time of need. “My heart goes out to his wife,” one fan, a long-distance trucker, wrote. “If she is married to Mike, she must be a good individual.”
“That is a really nice thing to say,” Enoch said. “I’m sure she’ll appreciate that.” He didn’t mention that his wife had gone to stay with her mother in the Midwest.
Also included in the dox were two e-mail addresses, both purportedly belonging to Enoch. In general, I am opposed to doxing—I worry about vigilante mobs, false positives, slippery slopes—but not opposed enough, apparently, to overcome my curiosity. I e-mailed both addresses.
Enoch responded right away. He said that he didn’t want to talk—“I have a platform to tell my story that is bigger than yours”—and yet, every time I sent another e-mail, he sent one back. I made no secret of the fact that I found his views repugnant, but I added, truthfully, that I wanted to know how he’d ended up in this predicament and what he planned to do next. At one point, I wrote him a long note trying to persuade him to talk to me. His entire response was “You seem kinda mad.” We went back and forth for a while, but I had no real success in drawing him out, and eventually we both lost interest.
He later read our full exchange on “The Daily Shoah.” To his credit, he didn’t edit his responses to make them sound smarter, but he didn’t have to. According to the rules of online debate in the Right Stuff’s “Essential T.R.S. Troll Guide,” which I hadn’t read at the time, Enoch had won our exchange by default, because he had written fewer words and maintained his ironic detachment, whereas I had committed the greatest possible faux pas: letting myself be “triggered” into displaying emotion. After the podcast aired, a few of Enoch’s fans sent me nasty messages on Twitter. I figured that was the end of it.
Then I heard back from the other e-mail address. “I am not the Mike Peinovich to whom you addressed this email, but I am his father,” it read. “Until two days ago, I was totally unaware of his ‘alt-right’ activities. . . . I am struggling to understand how Mike E. (which is what we call him to distinguish him from me and my father who was also Mike Peinovich) could have said, posted or tweeted the things that are attributed to him.”
I called Mike, Sr., and we talked for a long time. It was the week of Donald Trump’s Inauguration, and he spoke in the tone that a lot of liberals were using then—weary and a bit dazed, as if struggling to shake a bad dream. “We tried to give our kids good values,” he said. “Mike E. went to good schools, and he loved being part of his church youth group. We knew that he was an outspoken Trump supporter, and he was very much the only one in the family, so we agreed, at a certain point, not to talk about politics.” He had listened to the podcast for long enough to recognize his son’s voice and profane sense of humor, but lasted only a few minutes before turning it off.
Four days after the rally in Charlottesville, I went to meet Mike, Sr., and his wife, Billie, in New Jersey. They live in an Arts and Crafts house on a tree-lined block near the center of town. Mike, Sr., answered the door. He was taller and thinner than his son, with silver hair and rimless glasses, but I saw the resemblance right away: the square jaw, the downturned mouth.
Billie and Mike are retired, and they spend several months a year travelling. They gave me a tour of the house, pointing out items they’d collected: Persian rugs, Mexican pottery, a floor-mounted globe. Mike was once a professor of Old English at the University of Pennsylvania, and his study contains several dictionaries and translations of “Beowulf,” along with contemporary books such as Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me.” We sat in armchairs in the living room, and he talked at length about his ancestors. “My grandfather helped drive the K.K.K. out of North Dakota,” he said. “My other grandfather came from Yugoslavia, fleeing religious persecution.”
I find less than 5% of the articled above unfair. Overall, it is an important read. It is a compelling read. It is a great read. My hats off to the author and to the people who participated in the profile. I sense that the author was generally fair and honest.
As an Orthodox Jew, I don’t lose any sleep over Mike Enoch and company. I don’t fear that they’re going to carry out mass violence. So far, the Alt Right has been a non-violent movement, as George Hawley notes in his new book. Rather than fearing the Alt Right, I think it is more important to understand the Alt Right and that requires not just articles about them by hostile parties such as the author above, but also by reading the best Alt Right intellectuals such as Richard Spencer, Kevin MacDonald, Gregory Hood, Greg Johnson, Andrew Joyce, etc.
I feel drawn to write about outlaws. In some ways, members of the Alt Right remind me of pornographers. Outwardly, most pornographers proclaim they have no interest in talking to the MSM and yet most yearn to talk for hours to reporters. They want to be listened to by people in prestigious positions and they want to be acknowledged in mainstream outlets. Most Alt Righters are the same way. Most proclaim they never talk to the press, but as the Mike Enoch example shows, once you get them going, they’ll talk to you for hours. They’ll spill their guts. They’ll even shed tears over broken family relationships.