Saying Heil To Richard Spencer

Andrew Marantz writes in his new book, Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation:

In the backyard, Samantha struck up a conversation with Richard Spencer, the man of the hour. He touched her arm and offered her a drag of his cigarette. Everyone else was focused intently on him—the young guys were practically forming rope lines to ask him about Žižek, or memetics, or the categorical imperative—but he kept ignoring them and talking to Samantha instead. She willed her facial muscles to stay neutral, trying not to seem like a fangirl. “Do you get off on the fact that these kids treat you like a god?” she asked. “I gave a speech today, and it changed the way you view the world,” he responded. “Isn’t that a bit godlike?”

She went inside to get another drink. A few minutes later, Spencer walked into the room. As soon as he entered, a skinny kid—couldn’t have been much older than eighteen—raised a glass in Richard’s direction. “Sieg!” the kid shouted. A few other boys snapped to attention and shouted, “Heil!” They did the call-and-response a few times, more and more energetically, until everyone in the room was either watching or joining in with stiff-armed salutes. She’d heard stories about this, she knew about the memes, but it was different to see it all around her—to feel the hot breath of the boys, to see their eyes go wide with a kind of ferocious ecstasy. Richard drank it in. He smiled as wide as she’d ever seen a person smile. The saluting went on and on; the kids were high on the pure energy of it, sloshing their beer onto the floor, rocking onto the balls of their feet. Richard, from across the room, looked straight at Samantha and raised one eyebrow. He didn’t have to do more than that. His meaning was unambiguous: So? You’re too good to do it, too?

She had already told everyone that the Nazi stuff was not for her. She knew in her heart that it was wrong. This whole thing was supposed to be about pride and self-love, not about hate, not about violence. He kept looking her dead in the eye, unflinching, the internationally famous super-Nazi, calling her bluff. Her arm went up. She did it. God help her, she did it.

* Another guy she’d met in Charlottesville was an emerging leader in the movement—not one of the speakers at the banquet, but someone who was starting to ascend to that top tier. There were rumors that he might be the next leader of IE. Not long after the rally, he got doxed. The dox included his home address, and he announced on Discord that he needed to get out of town for a while. He and Samantha talked over Skype, and although she’d only intended to comfort him, she found herself offering him a place to crash for a little while. This was what you were expected to do within the movement: when one of your people was in need, you offered help. He showed up at her apartment a few days later and came on strong. He was very convinced that they should be together. She wasn’t, but he wore her down, and she decided to give it a shot. The guy was obviously in a fragile state. She tried to have compassion. But it was never a good fit, and, after a few weeks, she asked him to start sleeping on the couch.

Things went downhill quickly after that. He agreed to move out of her bedroom, but he wouldn’t look for a new place or help with the rent. He didn’t cook or do dishes. He barely even went outside. If she tried to ask when he was planning to move out, he would get angry, the conversation would escalate, and he’d end up calling her a whore, or warning her that, when he was in charge of the ethnostate, she would be sent to a breeding camp. Later he would apologize and say that it was just a joke. But he would also mention that he knew her real name and where she lived, and that he could release that information whenever he wanted.

He didn’t hit her, and he didn’t rape her. But she didn’t feel like she was in control of the situation, either. What was she supposed to do, call the cops on one of the leaders of her own underground movement? When the cops came, what would she tell them—“This creep won’t leave my apartment”? Was that even a crime? Besides, as soon as he found out that she’d betrayed him, he would dox her and ruin her life—or, at the very least, no one in the movement would ever trust her again, and the movement was all she had. No, it was impossible. She’d always prided herself on being an easygoing person, socially astute enough to adapt to any situation. So she adapted. They could be platonic roommates in private, he told her, but in public she was to keep up the ruse that they were a couple. He was going to be a power player in the alt-right, and as far as “movement optics” were concerned, Samantha was going to be his First Lady. He introduced her to everyone as his girlfriend—the new IE power couple. He kept climbing through the ranks of the organization, taking on more projects and then blowing his deadlines. Sometimes he would guilt Samantha into doing his work for him; then she’d hear him on a conference call in the other room, accepting praise for a spreadsheet he’d barely glanced at.

At one point, they spent a weekend in New York City hanging out with a bunch of inner-circle movement leaders, drinking bourbon and joking about the impending race war. They took a train upstate, to Sven’s house, for one of TRS’s famous book burnings. She stayed quiet most of the time; she was a girl, so it was easy to disguise sulking as submissiveness. Then Monday came, and they went home and took a break from the ruse. She went back to work, and he went back to calling in to alt-right podcasts over Skype, or playing video games on the couch.

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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