ABC News: ‘What It’s Like as an Asian-American Journalist to Interview a White Nationalist’

Juju Chang writes for Nightline about her feelings on interviewing Richard Spencer.

What a brilliant and original angle! Wow, think of the possibilities. Next we might have women writing about what it is like to interview a man, a white writing about what it is like to interview a black, a gay man writing about what it is like to interview a straight.

It’s not every day that a self-proclaimed white nationalist calls you an “honorary white person.”

He was joking, of course, after I said I enjoyed a recent trip near his home in Whitefish, Montana. It would have been light-hearted banter in any other context, but not this one.

Oh, how traumatic for the poor dear. Imagine in a different context a Jew had told her that she was an honorary Jew. How traumatic that would be! How hateful!

Because Richard Spencer had just told me with a smile on his face that I would not be allowed to live in the all-white ethno-state he envisions for the future.

“You could have your own ethno-state,” he offered, as though ethnic cleansing might strike most Americans as anything other than reprehensible.

Oy vey! An ethno-state! How provocative. Gosh, isn’t Israel an ethno-state for Jews? Isn’t Japan an ethno-state for the Japanese? Israel and Japan are not pariah states for being ethno-states. What’s the big deal?

Sure, Israel has two million Arab citizens, but the average Israeli wishes they would disappear tomorrow just as the average Japanese wishes that Korean immigrants to Japan would similarly disappear.

The Torah makes no provision for non-Jewish citizenship in the Jewish state, but I doubt any mainstream journalist would attack the Jewish religion for that.

Every people want to control their own destiny and their own culture and their own way of life. This applies equally to Torah-observant Jews as it does to the Japanese and to the followers of Richard Spencer.

Keith Ellison, possible future leader of the Democratic National Committee, once advocated for a blacks-only country cared out of the United States. Was that super-hateful?

Juju Chang is shallow. She writes, “as though ethnic cleansing might strike most Americans as anything other than reprehensible.” Well, it was ethnic cleansing that created the United States of America. We ethnically cleansed the Indians so that white people could do their thing.

Would the average American today support ethnic cleansing of the country from blacks, Jews, and Muslims? Perhaps. It would not be far-fetched to see that sentiment.

As for the idea of saying “No to Hate”, that’s very unJewish and unBiblical. The Torah and the Talmud are filled with hatred for Israel’s enemies and those who transgress God’s will.

Spencer, 38, earned national attention after a video surfaced on “The Atlantic” showing him at a so-called “alt right” conference shouting “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory,” as some in the crowd raised their hands in a Nazi salute.

Spencer says he yelled out “Hail Trump,” “in the spirit of irony and exuberance.”

“What is exuberant about genocide?” I asked him.

He then tried to dismiss it, telling me, “a half a dozen people in the audience or so who gave a Roman salute.”

“It was not a Roman salute. It was a Nazi party salute, you know that,” I replied.

It was both a Roman salute and a Nazi salute and probably other cultures used it as well. The salute does not equate with genocide any more than reading Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book or wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt equates with genocide. Communism slaughtered far more people than did Nazism. Why don’t beliefs of communism equate with genocide? America’s leading communists have usually endorsed voting for the Democratic party. Does that mean that America’s left-wing party is genocidal?

Spencer did acknowledge that provocation is a strategy for the alt-right and that he had been toiling in obscurity until this shot of notoriety. He sees President-Elect Trump as someone who “sling-shot our movement into fame.” Spencer says he was euphoric the moment he found out Trump won the presidency, “it felt like a kind of miracle.”

Richard Spencer was a significant thinker, perhaps the most significant, of the Alt-Right long before Donald Trump ran for president and those who were interested in making America white again knew his name.

When Obama talked about, “When they bring a knife, we bring a gun!“, does that mean Obama was promoting genocide? Or was he just being provocative to get attention?

Spencer and I talked one-on-one for more than an hour. He claims he is not a white supremacist or a racist, but it is difficult to understand his incendiary rhetoric any other way.

What does white supremacist and racist even mean? These are just slurs. There are only two honorable forms of argument – to contest facts or logic. Name calling is not an honorable form of argument.

I asked about his quote in Mother Jones magazine that “Hispanics and African Americans have lower average IQs than whites and are more genetically predisposed to commit crimes” — a pseudo-science argument of white supremacists which has been widely discredited.

Discredited by whom? Lower IQ people commit more crimes. That is a universal pattern. It is also a universal pattern that Ashkenazi Jews have an average IQ of around 110, East Asians of around 105, whites of 100, latinos of mestizo heritage about 90, and blacks of 85 and lower.

His deeply inflammatory world-view involves that all-white “ethno state” perhaps outside the U.S., he says, where races are segregated. He claims there would be no forced deportations, though says it could result in a violent race war.

Why is Richard Spencer’s idea of an ethno-state any more inflammatory than the Torah’s idea for a Jewish ethno-state? Most people want their own states and to control their own destiny. It’s not something that is deeply inflammatory. It is a basic human desire.

Tensions erupted during Spencer’s speech several times. He fat-shamed a female protester dressed as a clown for effect and spewed insults at a man who stood patiently in line to ask a question, even before he had a chance to ask his question.

“You’re a coward. You can’t beat the —- out of anything,” he said. “You need to go to the gym.”

His tone reminded me of an exchange Spencer and I had during our long conversation when he laughingly dismissed values like compassion, diversity, even freedom as “weak” or “lame.” I pointed out that these are bedrock principles of our country, “diversity, inclusion, Lady Liberty bring us your huddled masses.”

“I would keep Lady Liberty. I think that’s a beautiful statue,” he said, laughing. “I would tear down that stupid horrible poem about ‘Send us your worst! Send us your ugliest, your stupidest. Let them wash up on our shores!'”

…But in the end, it was the anti-hate folks who showed up at the Kyle Stadium — including a multi-cultural group of students and anti-hate groups – that sent a far more powerful message of tolerance and diversity to drown out what they considered the repugnant and unwelcome din next door.

JuJu Chang writes like a 12-year old girl.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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