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During a recent broadcast, longtime neo-Nazi and vicious anti-Semite, David Duke, lavished praise upon his guest, “Alt-Right” white nationalist poster-boy Richard Spencer. Duke told the audience of his eponymous program, “We can’t help but love the guy, and he’s really coming around to our opinion.”[1]

The “opinion” David Duke is so thrilled to see Spencer “coming around to” appears to be Spencer’s move towards fully embracing anti-Semitism as central to the white nationalist Alt-Right struggle.

Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute has increasingly given voice to anti-Semitism and allied his cause with hardcore anti-Semites. Spencer’s alliance with neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin of The Daily Stormer has already produced plans for a January 15th armed march targeting Jews in Whitefish, Montana. And Spencer is currently defending anti-Semites in a spate of Alt-Right in-fighting.

Spencer’s growing embrace of anti-Semitism could add to tension between neo-Nazis and those white nationalists who preach a pan-white nationalism that includes (some) Jews.

Richard Spencer’s Pan-White Political Roots

Open anti-Semitism was not always Spencer’s political bent. As IREHR’s Devin Burghart describes in detail, Spencer’s political chops developed in conservatism generally, and paleo-conservatism, particularly. After serving as assistant editor for Pat Buchanan’s The American Conservative, and later as executive editor at the allied Taki’s Magazine, in 2009 Spencer began his fixation on “contemporary white consciousness.”

Even as he started – which would popularize “Alt-Right” as an umbrella term for a coterie of white nationalists, anti-Muslim bigots, anti-Semites and misogynists – Spencer honed a racism that downplayed anti-Semitism in favor of pan-white nationalism. Such were the politics of Spencer’s paleo-conservative mentors, Sam Francis and Paul Gottfried, as well as Jared Taylor’s American Renaissance (AR), where Spencer became a favorite conference speaker.

Jared Taylor outlined the tactical position American Renaissance staked in white nationalist circles,

“AR has deliberately avoided taking positions on questions about which racially-conscious whites are likely to disagree… AR has likewise taken no explicit position on Jewish matters. Readers have always included both Jews and people who believe Jews play no useful role in a movement that promotes white interests…AR has taken an implicit position on Jews by publishing Jewish authors and inviting Jewish speakers to AR conferences. It should be clear to anyone that Jews have, from the outset, been welcome and equal participants in our efforts…Some people in the AR community believe Jewish influence was decisive in destroying the traditional American consensus on race. Others disagree.”[2]

American Renaissance played host to white nationalist Jews such as Michael Hart, Paul Gottfried, Robert Weissberg, and Michael Levin, while anti-Semites were pressed to keep their base hatred in check. This built-in-rift blew up in 2006 when David Duke gave voice to his inner-Nazi and Hart hit back. Jared Taylor wrote that the tacit truce “changed at the most recent [2006] American Renaissance conference. At least one participant told a Jewish conferee that Jews were not welcome. One participant [Duke] well known for strong views rose to denounce Jews as the historic enemy of the European people. Another [Hart] called him ‘a f***ing Nazi,’ and stormed out of the conference hall. There will be no more disgraceful behavior of this kind if people who attend AR conferences bear in mind that Jews have a valuable role in the work of American Renaissance, and are welcome participants and speakers. Anyone who thinks otherwise has the choice of staying home or keeping his views to himself.”

This schism led Hart to start the Preserving Western Civilization conference as white nationalist venue more friendly toward Jewish participation.

On the other side, there has also been considerable push-back from anti-Semites against the American Renaissance position. For instance, neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin wrote in 2014, “I do not, necessarily, wish to attack [Jared] Taylor…and he has done quite a bit of work which I believe to be valuable…However, I cannot stand by as he makes the absurd claim that ‘Jews are White and our allies.’”[3]

The relative position of American Renaissance in movement circles has taken a step back in recent years, in part due to the decline of the Council of Conservative Citizens, the think-tank’s unofficial grassroots outreach arm. The manifesto of the Charleston shooter revealed that it was the Council of Conservative Citizens website that initially inspired his murderous white nationalism.

Spencer, Anglin and Anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitism had for some time been at the edges of Spencer’s projects. Spencer promoted Kevin McDonald as a “thinker” on things Jewish. A former psychology professor, the white nationalist McDonald argues that Jews are driven to destroy western societies. He praised Anders Brevik, the racist who in 2011 massacred seventy-seven people at a Norwegian youth camp. Even pan-white nationalist Sam Francis had flirted with anti-Semitism, writing a foreword to Kevin McDonald’s 2004 book Understanding Jewish Influence. Richard Spencer posted both on his National Policy Institute website.

But recently anti-Semitism has surfaced as a central element of Spencer’s Alt-Right worldview.

A December 14, 2016 podcast by The Right Stuff (TRS) gave Spencer an opportunity to display his developing anti-Semitism. TRS’s Mike Enoch introduced the budding alliance between what Andrew Anglin dubbed the “First Triumvirate”:

Enoch: “This is actually the most interesting podcast on the Alt-Right that you’re gonna hear. It’s me, Mike Enoch, I’m here with Richard Spencer and Andrew Anglin. So, what’s the likelihood that you’re gonna get all three of us on one radio program together?”

Anglin: “Well in the future it could be more and more likely…

Spencer: “This will be the nightly news, basically…”

Enoch: “We’re all here to show solidarity with one another. We all are coming from slightly different angles and approaches to this thing, but I think we’re all fundamentally on the same team.”

Anglin: “And more or less on the same page”

This exchange begs the question of just what “page” are they are on. Anglin’s page is filled with rabid anti-Semitism, including copious use of the slur “kike,” referring to Jews as “a virus” and a “human disease,” and targeting individual Jews with images of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz and the infamous yellow Star-of-David “Juden” patches forced on Jews during the Holocaust. In a response to the upcoming march announced by Anglin, Spencer explained,

“Andrew Anglin and I have different styles; we have different approaches. But, I think Andrew Anglin saw me as part of the broader Alt-Right. He saw me as part of the broader, you could say, pro-white community. And he fought back. He saw me under threat and he fought back… I don’t know Andrew Anglin, terribly well. I’ve spoken to him over the phone once, and we were on a podcast together once. I can’t say that he’s a friend of mine, I’ve never met him. And again, he’s wild – I don’t think he’d be offended by my saying that. We have different styles. But this is one thing I will say, and I will say this with confidence – Andrew Anglin is a rational person.”

In contrast to Anglin’s “rational person” anti-Semitism, Spencer tries to walk a line between American Renaissance-style and neo-Nazi white nationalism. Spencer avoids the crass rhetoric of Anglin, preferring to cast the effect of an imagined Jewish power on “Western civilization” as “tragic.” Spencer masks his anti-Semitism in the “academic” veneer deployed by Kevin McDonald, casting his budding obsession with Jewish power in a language of cultural psychology and ethnic group politics. It is, however, a thin veil easily pierced by a quick read.

Spencer further elaborated on his view of Jews during the TRS podcast,

 “The left always wants to believe that they are the underdog… This interesting elite class that we have now, it’s like elite that wants to pretend that it’s the underdog. It’s a very interesting thing psychologically…It’s obviously a Jewish trait…Jews can’t be the over-dog.”

Spencer added,

“The reason why Jews exist is because they have a sense of themselves and because they’re a little bit paranoid…They have to perceive anti-Semitism – I’m speaking from their perspective, not ours – they have to perceive anti-Semitism in order to generate and maintain group coherence.”

An exchange during the TRS podcast illustrates the distinctions between Anglin and Spencer’s “styles” and “approaches.” After Anglin expounded his views on Chinese people and Jews, concluding that the later have a “completely alien psychology,” Spencer added,

“I guess the difference is that unlike the Chinese, the Jews are really in our heads… I’m fine in a way…with like the alien way that the Japanese look at the world, you know, because…the Japanese are not an enemy of the white race. They’re just other… But we’re connected with the Jews in this way that we kind of both need each other in some terrible sense…I mean we have this strange, ambivalent relationship with Jews… but it’s almost like we don’t even know who we are without them at some level…They really are deep in our psyche. I don’t think we should underestimate the power.”

Mike Enoch responded, “I think that I get what you’re saying, and that it does seem like because of this sort of seemingly all-pervasive control of media and institutions…They’ve [Jews] like embedded themselves everywhere…I don’t think there’s like a need there, because I think it’s been a destructive relationship for 2000 years. More so recently when they were sort of integrated and took over a lot of institutions.”

Spencer clarified, apparently not wanting to seem too philo-Semitic:

“I’m not saying that we need them…I’m definitely not saying that European civilization wouldn’t exist without the Jews… But I am saying what you’re saying, which is it’s like, we can’t underestimate their power and the degree to which they really have embedded themselves in our civilization and our psyche. Like it is a powerful thing, we’re not dealing with Mexicans, we’re not dealing with a Chinese civilization…The Jews, it’s a much more painful relationship… It’s a very tragic thing.”

The exchange continues:

Anglin: “And Kevin McDonald talks about this, that they [Jews] sort of re-create the culture in their image to make it something that they comfortable with…They’ve overwritten our cultural values with their own cultural values.”

Spencer: “Well look…what I’m trying to get at, is I don’t want to be just a polemical person, where it’s like ‘The Jews are bad.’ We’ve got to get at that tragic element, to where we are…”

Enoch: “We have to also acknowledge that… this is a very cohesive group of people that is, you know, essentially eroding our cohesion for their own benefit, and like that’s f–ked up.”

Spencer: “Yeah, they kind of need us in a way…So I can imagine a European culture outside of the Jews…But in a weird way, it is the people that shall not dwell alone, to borrow a title from Kevin McDonald’s book. They do need us…in this tragic way.”

Anglin: “It’s a virus.  They’re a human disease” [laughter]

Spencer: “Somewhat inflammatory language, but I understand what you’re saying.”

Spencer’s Anti-Semitism in the Alt-Right White Fight

In addition to regurgitating classic anti-Semitic tropes and allying with hardcore anti-Semites, Richard Spencer has also taken to defending anti-Semites in an ongoing Alt-Right feud.

The Alt-Right in-fight burst to the surface around the organizing of the Deploraball, a set of events being promoted to celebrate the Trump election. The main event is slated for Washington D.C. while organizers are encouraging local versions for those unable to make the journey.  Reuters reports that event organizers began offering refunds after the in-fighting began.

The fight actually started at the November 19 National Policy Institute conference in Washington D.C. When Richard Spencer ended his speech by raising a glass and declaring “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!” some audience members were filmed throwing up gleeful Nazi salutes. Movement acolytes began referring to the ensuing media controversy as “Hailgate.”

The issue pushed its way into the Deploraball when Alt-Right blogger Tim Treadstone, aka “Baked Alaska,” spewed anti-Semitism, including tweeting the canard that Jews “control 95% of the media.”

Event organizer and misogynist Mike Cernovich shot back, admonishing Baked, “No Nazi salutes … or don’t have your name on the event.” On December 26 Cernovich tweeted that “Baked Alaska is not a member of the Deploraball committee and will not be attending the event.” In his place, Cernovich announced, “I can confirm that MILO will now be attending the Deploraball!” Milo refers to Senior Breitbart News Editor Milo Yiannopoulos, a rabid anti-Muslim bigot and crass misogynist who has been the online “news” venue’s biggest defender of white nationalism as “Alt-Right.”[4]

Anti-Semites shot back. Responding in an interview to David Duke’s statement that Richard Spencer is “Really coming around to our opinion,” Andrew Anglin declared, “Everybody is David…This guy named Baked Alaska…just flipped to our side…You know, you got this guy Mike Thernovich (sic), this Jew, Milo Yiannopoulos, who are trying to do this, ‘Well, you know, we’re the alt-right, but we believe that all races are equal and we support Israel.’”

Spencer offered his take, casting the Cernovich camp as the “Alt-Light” in an email to the Daily Beast:

“The ‘Alt-Light’ faces a major problem…People like Mike Cernovich and Milo don’t have an ideology…They are Trump fans, who are vaguely conservative and a bit neocon-ish …The Alt-Light has also hitched its wagon to ‘free speech’…The catch is, there’s clearly some free speech they don’t like, particularly regarding race and Jewish activism and influence. In order for the Alt-Light to maintain its current position—playing footsie with the real Alt-Right and playing footsie with establishment conservatives—they are going to have to engage in thought-policing and disavows.”

During an interview on the David Duke Radio Show, Spencer made a call for a “big tent” white nationalism that would include anti-Semites. Spencer boasted that he “did not disavow anyone” who threw up Nazi salutes at the NPI conference. “No disavows, no apologies,” he asserted. Spencer continued that he hoped that media exposure from the “Hailgate” will lead people to get on Google and “come across your [David Duke] work.” As the interview with Duke wrapped up, the veteran neo-Nazi declared, “everybody in the movement is proud of you.” Spencer replied, “I honor you too David. Thanks for having me on. I’ll come back anytime.”

Richard Spencer is a leading figure in the white nationalist movement, carving out new terrain by rebranding the cause as Alt-Right. While cutting his political teeth among white nationalists who downplayed anti-Semitism, Spencer has clearly made a turn. Positing a Jewish “underdog” mentality and claiming that Jews need anti-Semitism to exist; viewing himself as part of a movement with neo-Nazis Andrew Anglin and David Duke; casting the Jewish effect on “Western society” as “tragic” and “painful;” defending anti-Semites in political infighting and calling Andrew Anglin a “rational person;” “understanding” Anglin’s anti-Semitic screed that Jews are a “virus” and a “human disease;” and implying that Jews, unlike the Chinese and Japanese, are an  “enemy of the white race.”

The implications of Spencer’s views for white nationalist unity are unclear. One thing is not: Richard Spencer is a both a white nationalist and an anti-Semite.


[1] David Duke Radio Show. December 27, 2016.

[2] Taylor, Jared. Jews and American Renaissance. American Renaissance. May 2006.

[3] Anglin, Andrew. Hardcore Antisemitic Daily Stormer Beats Jared Taylor’s Kosher American Renaissance. The Daily Stormer. January 16, 2014.

[4] Lest we think this fight is against bigotry generally, note that Cenovich is a raving misogynist and bigot in his own right. Cenovich dismisses the reality and gravity of rape, writing that

“Rape requires the use of force, and “date rape” does not exist as all rape is rape.”

“If you get drunk, hook up with an ugly guy, and then regret it in the morning, you are a victim of RAPE.”

“If a guy whistles at you in the street, you are a victim of RAPE.”

“If a guy asks you out for coffee in an elevator, RAPE.”

Mike Cernovich, “What is Rape?” Danger and Play website. July 5, 2012.

Chuck Tanner

Author Chuck Tanner

Chuck Tanner is an Advisory Board member and researcher for the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights. He lives in Washington State where he researches and works to counter white nationalism and the anti-Indian and other far right social movements.

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