Everything You Love Will Burn: Inside the Rebirth of White Nationalism in America

Vegas Tenold writes:

* Richard Spencer, the man who had coined the term alt-right and, by 2016, had become its de facto leader and also a proud Trump supporter, once told me that he saw himself and the rest of the movement as the ideological kitchen for the far-right positions, which Trump, by osmosis, made his own. Even though Spencer and Matthew very much disliked each other, they agreed that the Trump campaign was co-opting their ideas. Others in the alt-right movement were more skeptical of Trump but still grateful for his candidacy, believing he would be a gateway drug to white nationalism. Whatever the truth of the relationship was, Trump’s ascendancy had created a sense of urgency and vigor on the far right that its members had never felt before, and now they were all scrambling to capitalize before Trump inevitably screwed up and lost to Hillary Clinton. In separate interviews Matthew, Jeff, and Richard Spencer had all told me the same thing: this was their moment.

* Klansmen. To people like Richard Spencer, the KKK and the neo-Nazis were obscene and outdated, and unless Matthew could convince Spencer and his comrades that there was value within his ranks, then his alliance, although certainly an unprecedented achievement, would still be largely irrelevant.

* Matthew was part of the boots faction of the nationalist movement, Spencer was the apotheosis of a suit. He was affluent, well educated, and well spoken. He had a degree from the University of Virginia, a master’s degree from the University of Chicago, and an unfinished doctorate from Duke. He wore tweed, drank tea, and mixed an air of affected intellectualism with the smug arrogance of every evil fraternity kid from 1980s college movies. He and Matthew had never met, but Matthew had written him off as a cocktail-sipping asshole who was afraid to get his hands dirty; I suspected that Spencer likewise had little love or understanding for Matthew. Spencer’s nationalism felt much more like an intellectual exercise performed for his own amusement than any form of deep-seated conviction. He would casually throw out some outrageous statement and then sit back and enjoy the carnage. His politics revolved around what he called identitarianism, which he explained as identifying first and foremost as a white man of European descent. It was a bastardization of identity politics that assumed that whites—and white males in particular—had similar political interests based on being white and male alone, but he’d managed to create a following for himself through it. He once tweeted that “all women want to be taken by a strong man” and was an early proponent of Donald Trump. Somehow he and a cadre of other nationalists had been able to mount a virtual army from disgruntled internet dwellers, misogynists, racists, and self-proclaimed firebrands that, in their own minds at least, had given Trump the presidency.

* …flailing for an answer to what the hell had happened, Richard Spencer and the alt-right seemed as good an answer as any. This, of course, was giving Spencer too much credit and Trump too little. Even though race was still very much an issue, the alt-right’s reach was limited. In the month before the election Richard Spencer, by far the most well-known member of the alt-right, only had roughly eighteen thousand followers on Twitter. Certainly a muscular number, but hardly enough to sway a presidential election. I’d spoken with Richard a few times over the phone during the campaign, and he seemed to have been growing increasingly enamored of Trump as his scattershot campaign threw a grab bag of conspiracies, misogyny, xenophobia, and baffling stupidity against a wall to see what would stick. Throughout our conversations he displayed first a jaded lack of enthusiasm, which gave way to cautious hope and eventual full-throated support for Trump. His support, however, was less based on Trump’s actual political stances, which Spencer himself would admit were all over the place, and more with what he believed Trump represented about US society. Not only was the country waking up to the importance of race; it was also shedding the exhausting shackles of political correctness. More than any political issue, the alt-right treasured their right to be infinitely offensive, preferably toward women or minorities, always under the banner of free speech, and with Trump as their candidate, the malcontents of the world had someone championing their right to be abusive.

I met Spencer in a noisy restaurant in the DC suburbs, where he lived on and off and maintained a barebones headquarters for his think tank, the prosaically named National Policy Institute (NPI). NPI’s main function was to throw an annual conference for the other suits of the movements and to publish the Radix Journal, a quasi-intellectual blog and journal in which Spencer and others pontificated on Jews, political correctness, women, and other things that concern them. He sat under a flat-screen TV mounted on the wall and watched with a look of bemusement as his own face flickered across the screen intercut with shots of young, white men with arms outstretched in salute and concerned-looking cable news panelists. The NPI conference was just over and had ended with shouts of “Hail Trump!” The whole thing had been caught on video and had prompted, after much prodding and pulling, Donald Trump to denounce the alt-right while still denying he had done anything to energize them. Spencer wasn’t so much disappointed at the denouncement as he was happy that Trump had given them a shot at the limelight in the first place. As he saw it, Trump may not have created the alt-right, and the alt-right may not have handed Trump the election, but the two were deeply intertwined ideologically. And with Trump in the White House and Stephen Bannon, the former CEO of alt-right mouthpiece Breitbart News, as a close adviser, the alt-right now had a seat at the table.

Spencer sipped his tea and watched the spectacle with a shit-eating grin. “It’s nuts, right? I mean it’s nuts,” he said, grinning as if the outrage he had caused was an actual and delicious flavor he could savor. “A year ago nobody knew who I was, and today I’m turning down interviews all over the place.” Spencer was the gift that kept on giving to journalists desperate to put a face on the alt-right. He was articulate, happy to talk, could be trusted to say offensive things, and also, seemingly to the surprise of everyone, didn’t look like a monster. Josh Harkinson, writing for Mother Jones, in a moment of breathlessness, described him as “An articulate and well-dressed former football player with prom-king good looks and a ‘fashy’ (as in fascism) haircut.” The articles often focused on Spencer’s education and distinctly unextreme demeanor as something that set him apart from traditional white supremacy in America, ignoring the fact that American nationalism had always had “intellectual” factions and that it is quite possible to be a white supremacist and smart at the same time. Also, Spencer was hardly the first educated man to advocate wildly racist ideas. Even within his sphere there were men who had been peddling their shtick of pseudo-scientific nativism for decades. [Jared] Taylor, who had inspired both Spencer and Matthew, debuted his publication American Renaissance in November of 1990, and many had been doing it for even longer. The novelty with Richard Spencer, apart from having had the good fortune of coming up with the term alt-right, was that he understood the power of the internet to build and mobilize a following. Where former incarnations of the far right had been reliant on rallies, concerts, and compounds to recruit and mobilize, Spencer and his minions needed only their smartphones and an endless appetite for disruption and offensive behavior. Matthew had a leg in each camp. He was savvy enough when it came to proselytizing on social media but much more comfortable taking his show on the road.

Still, what Twitter giveth, Twitter also taketh away, which is why Spencer had been in an indignant outrage when we spoke a couple of days before. He’d been kicked off Twitter for inciting hatred, which was like giving a speeding ticket to a Formula 1 driver, and now he had lost his most important way of communicating with the world. “I’ve been beheaded,” he said dramatically. “Exterminated. Gagged. Honestly the whole thing is a witch hunt. It’s deeply undemocratic, but they’re crazy if they think they can silence me. I’m getting more attention than ever.” The alt-right had become marvelously adept at playing the victim when something they said invariably got them in trouble, a strategy that served them well, allowing them to act persecuted and adding to the narrative that white men are the real victims in an unfair world. We watched for a while as CNN showed a loop of pictures of Spencer and his followers saluting Trump. A few people in the restaurant recognized him, some glaring openly and others trying to conceal their staring. Spencer raised his teacup and smiled at all of them. “This whole neo-Nazis in DC thing is so stupid,” he said. “Everyone is blowing it completely out of proportion. It was a moment of enthusiasm. We got carried away, and someone jokingly shouted, ‘Hail Trump,’ and people latched onto it. It wasn’t a political statement. It was a joke. Trolling, even.” This had been the alt-right’s typical response to any outrage and one lifted from the schoolyard bully playbook: “Come on. It was all a joke. Stop being so sensitive.” “You people are going to call us neo-Nazis anyway, so I guess a few people thought it would be fun to throw it back in the media’s faces. This was just a prank. Overenthusiasm.” Spencer acted like the magnanimous father of unruly children. Whenever his followers said or did something outrageous, he would roll out this character to great effect. “I can’t vouch for all the things these people say, but they’re my people, so I’m not going to condemn them for it either. The right needs this kind of rambunctious outrageousness, just like it needs the opposite.”

Spencer saw himself very much like the opposite. He enjoyed lobbing rhetorical bombs as much as any other troll, but he saw his role as providing the intellectual vanguard of the movement, staking out a course for others to follow. “These are the foot soldiers,” he said of his thousands of Twitter followers. “My job is to be the intellectual lodestar that provides direction. The movement needs both. It needs the Dionysian passion of the masses on the one hand and the Apollonian vision of the future on the other.” Spencer was fond of statements like these, ones that highlighted his classical education and underlined his image as a man of letters. He claimed that his main inspiration was Friedrich Nietzsche and the classical French thinkers and would say things like, “The white race has a drive that is almost Faustian in nature.” By “Faustian in nature” he meant that the white race has a drive to invent and to improve that other races lack. In his ethnocentric worldview the white race is behind every important technical advancement in the history of humanity, and his intellectual ballast is an impressive collection of cherry-picked facts that support his opinions. He believes we are living in end times, not in an apocalyptical way but in a paradigmatic one. He told me that the America that emerged after World War II, a country in which equality and togetherness were cherished ideals, is coming to an end and that Trump is the first horseman of this apocalypse. “We’re seeing the end of white America,” he said, echoing the thousands of nationalists before him who had lamented the progress made by other races. “But more importantly perhaps, we’re seeing the end of unconscious white America. We’re witnessing the collapse of the heady liberalism of color blindness and the rise of an explicit racial consciousness on the part of white people. We’re not completely there yet—people in Michigan who voted for Trump didn’t do it because they support the alt-right—but unconsciously many whites are voting for their race.”

Spencer believes that for everyone else but whites, race is their first form of identification. A black man first and foremost identifies as a black man, whereas whites have been told over and over that this is wrong and racist, so their first form of identification comes in the form of political allegiances—“I’m a conservative/liberal/libertarian”—or geographic connection—“I’m a New Yorker!” This, according to Spencer, is a fundamental problem with whites. “We’re just too stupid and cucked to think in these terms,” he said. “In some ways African Americans are a lot smarter than us. They get it.”

I never knew if he really believed that African Americans could be smarter than whites, just as I never truly knew if Matthew believed that other races could be as good as, if not better, than whites. Perhaps they had learned a lesson from previous incarnations of nationalists that white supremacy wasn’t going to win hearts and minds, or perhaps they really had evolved into a more magnanimous form of nationalists. Could it be they were serious when they said, “White pride, not white power?”

Matthew told me several times that he respects and sympathizes with the poverty of African Americans and Latinos in Chicago. The way the United States incarcerates black people in staggeringly higher numbers than it does whites disgusts him. He laid down flowers outside the Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston after Dylann Roof’s shooting spree. Spencer said similar things. “White suffering isn’t worse than black suffering. It’s just not the thing.”

“This is when we need to go to work,” Spencer continued as the news coverage finally ended. The general of an army composed of mostly nameless avatars on Twitter, Spencer felt the challenges of turning a counter-culture into a viable political movement even more acutely than Matthew, whose followers, although fewer than Spencer’s, were real-life people willing to march in the streets. “I realize that the alt-right to this day has been mostly online, but the internet is what has gotten us this far. Thirty years ago this movement wouldn’t have been possible. Matthew Heimbach may be fighting in the streets while I sip martinis, but I’m fine with that. We need to build an intellectual footprint too, and that can’t happen in the streets.” Still, Spencer was keenly aware of the limitations of the internet when it came to capitalizing on the momentum they had gained, and he worried about the movement being aborted by private companies banning the alt-right from online platforms. Facebook and Twitter were both tinkering with new rules governing hate speech, as was Reddit, the home of nihilistic, alt-right spawning pool 4Chan. In the paranoid echo chambers of the far-right forums, the Jews who controlled the media, ever walking a tightrope between making money on their products and controlling their users, were beginning to clamp down on freedom of speech. This was ostensibly to prevent terrorism, but the alt-right suspected more nefarious reasons afoot. “Sure, it sounds paranoid,” Spencer said. “But one can easily imagine private companies removing us from their servers. We could of course have our own servers, but it would make our work infinitely more difficult. We can get kicked off social media platforms, but you can take it even further: Would Google censor search results?”

“It’s clear that we’ve been able to build a movement of online people, many of whom are anonymous,” he said. “But at some point all that energy needs to spill out into the real world for it to have any practical use. We need to meet politicians and host conferences. The alt-right would never succeed as a party. We’re influencers, and we need to take that seriously and professionalize.”

And it wasn’t exactly clear by what he meant by “professionalizing.” He was living in Whitefish, Montana, but had ambitions of building a new and bigger headquarters for NPI in DC, where he would use his newfound notoriety to coax the volatile alt-right from the digital and into the physical world. Meanwhile Matthew existed very much in the space between the virtual and the real world. He was working as a picker for Amazon, spending twelve hours a day in almost total darkness, receiving people’s orders on a screen, then scurrying through the shelves to find them—once he fetched twelve identical, plus-sized, sexy Cinderella costumes for one customer. He’d been forced to put the work with the Nationalist Front on the back burner, as his summer of rallies and marches had put a strain on his already overworked credit card, so he needed to bring in some extra cash. Also, Brooke was pregnant again, expecting their second child in June.

He called me in late December with some strange news. Richard Spencer had called Matthew to ask him if he might be interested in helping him run for Congress. Ryan Zinke, the sole representative of Montana, had been tagged to join Trump’s cabinet, and Spencer believed he could do well in the exceptionally libertarian-minded and right-wing-friendly political environment of Montana. “He really called out of the blue,” Matthew said. “I guess he realizes that I know how to talk to real people. It could be a big deal for us.” It was too late for Spencer to get on the ballot as anything other than an independent in the special election, so he needed signatures, which would mean crisscrossing the state and talking to rural voters to get them on board. Endless driving and talking to workers and farmers were what Matthew did best. “It’ll put a crimp in my work with the Nationalist Front,” Matthew said. “But it
would be worth it.” He didn’t say as much, but if there was any truth to it, then Spencer and Matthew working together would be a major development in the insulated world of the alt-right. Their relationship was a perfect metaphor for the schism between boots and suits dividing the far right, and if they could somehow work together, they would both be able to take their respective visions of the far right further: Matthew would achieve a new level of respectability with the alt-right white collars, and Spencer would gain some credibility with those who saw him as an aloof dandy.

I called Spencer and asked about it after I spoke with Matthew, and although he was cagey about the specifics, he told me that he and Matthew had indeed been talking about working together and that they would meet for a sit-down on Inauguration Day in DC.

In addition to the recent bickering over the JQ, in the days before the inauguration one of the most influential actors in the alt-right—blogger, podcaster, and virulent anti-Semite Mike Enoch—was revealed to be Mike Peinovich, a NYC-based software developer who is married to a Jewish woman. His blog, The Right Stuff, collapsed, and his audience of close to one hundred thousand regular readers scattered. Although these infractions might seem minor to anyone outside the far right, in the movement they were tectonic incidents, obsessively discussed and dissected. “Honestly, sometimes I can’t believe how dumb our movement can be,” Matthew said of the Mike Enoch affair. “We have to get serious about things if we want to move forward. This anonymous, online bullshit can’t
go on. We need to get our shit together.” The prospect of meeting Spencer excited Matthew. He maintained that he still believed Spencer was a martini-drinking asshole, but when he said it now it was in a more backslapping, locker-room-talk kind of way, whereas before he seemed almost spurned when talking about the suits. Although Matthew was in his own right a respected leader in the movement, Richard Spencer was undeniably the brighter star—and certainly got more attention from the media—so I suspected that Matthew was flattered to be asked.

FINALLY MATTHEW CAME BACK. He was elated. The meeting had gone well. In a room full of GOP strategists and state legislators he had been introduced as “the next president of the United States,” and things had only improved from there. He said that he made no attempt to hide who he was, his politics, or his affiliations and that no one seemed to have a problem with it. He said he’d spoken at length about the white working class, their problems, and how to strengthen the GOP’s hold over them. When he finished, he had been given resounding applause.

* We watched as the assailant ran off while Spencer clutched his jaw and straightened his hair. “That’s crazy,” Matthew said. They all seemed to get a tiny amount of joy from watching the guy who had snubbed them all day and who, by the looks of it, had never been in a fight in his life, meet the realities of Antifa. “I mean Spencer is kind of a dick, but damn, no one deserves getting sucker punched like that. Play it again, Miles.”

* He wound the whole thing up with a “Hail Victory,” but the nationalists behind him started their own chant, singing “Hail Heimbach” over and over. The chant went on for minutes, and Matthew turned to his followers with a sheepish grin, bowing awkwardly at times but letting the adulation wash over him like a warm shower.

Jeff didn’t join the chant and stared straight ahead. Matthew aw-shucks’ed for another minute or so until the chanting ended and was replaced by backslapping and applause. If there had ever been any doubt as to who was running the largest coalition of white nationalist groups in America, there was none now. IN THE CAR on the way back Matthew was beaming. “That was pretty special,” he said. “I mean… yeah, that whole Hail Heimbach thing… it was silly, but, yeah… it was pretty special.” “You earned it,” said Tony. He despised the NSM and was happy to watch Matthew take charge. “Those fucking guys need to fold. They can’t go on like this.” The night before he had told me how Matthew had ended up paying for all the food both days, even though it was, on paper at least, the NSM’s event.

COMMENTS ON MY YOUTUBE VIDEO:

* about half way done with the book, and it definitely has this fatalistic touch due to what happened to Heimbach, essentially right after this book’s release. It paints the picture of a man who, at a certain moment, went past the point of no return, and had no choice any longer, but to go full bore. The book is probably hardest on the KKK, it seems to me, showing them to be the most delusional, powerless, and out of touch of the 3 groups he chose to investigate. In any manner, the alt-right has also had its share of oddities with The Daily Shoah hosts being doxxed, Eli Mosley lying about his military record, Spencer basically saying he’s been defeated, and most recently the Heimbach fiasco. As well as the never ending Optics debate. The circling of the wagons by the core alt-right is under way.

* LUKE LIES and used ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE to SURPRESS the TELLS such as speech patterns, body language. Luke said it himself, it takes a great amount of cognitive ability to lie. – Beware of the Talmudic Jew.

* I can’t stop watching Luke Ford. I try, but I come back.

* 5:13 National Geographic Magazine mentioned. Here’s the link to the appalling magazine which is all about anti-white propaganda. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/ “For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist. To Rise Above Our Past, We Must Acknowledge It” and “These Twins, One Black and One White, Will Make You Rethink Race” and “There’s No Scientific Basis for Race—It’s a Made-Up Label” and “For Black Motorists, a Never-Ending Fear of Being Stopped” and “As America Changes, Some Anxious Whites Feel Left Behind”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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