Richard Spencer, the controversial white nationalist who’s sparked a state of emergency and turned Hogtown into a powderkeg, says he doesn’t promote violence and isn’t a white supremacist.
Spencer, who coined the term “alternative right” years ago, is coming to the University of Florida this afternoon as another stop on a national recruitment effort targeting college students.
The National Policy Institute, which Spencer founded and leads, paid about $10,000 to rent the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. The university first balked at Spencer’s appearance, but relented after deciding it would probably lose a lawsuit threatened by Spencer’s lawyer.
The university estimates costs for Spencer’s speech will be in the $500,000 range, further angering students, faculty and others who want the alt-right sensation to stay the heck away.
We spoke with Spencer’s chief lieutenant, Evan McLaren, this week.
“There’s nothing hateful about what Richard or myself or the National Policy Institute expresses,” McLaren said.
McLaren, the executive director of D.C.-based NPI, told us the first business purchase he made after going to work for Spencer this summer was a ballistics vest.
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And here’s what Spencer had to say in a recent interview with the Culture Report.
Spencer denied that he’s a white supremacist, which he defined as “a white person who wants to rule over other races.”
“And I don’t want to do that,” so he’s not a white supremacist, Spencer said.
“White supremacist is basically a scare word. You might as well call me a poo-poo head or some other middle school-level insult. Because that’s all it is. It’s a way of suppressing speech. It’s a way of silencing someone even before the conversation begins, actually. So, yes, I get it a lot. It’s obvious bullshit. It’s the same thing as when a conservative would say, ‘he’s a communist,’ or ‘he’s a Marxist.’ Well, maybe that’s true in many cases. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t have something to offer,” he explained.
So, what is he?
“If I were to describe my ideology, my identity, it would be identitarian…It basically means that that question of identity is at the very heart of how I think of the world,” he said.
Are whites superior?
“The easiest thing for me to say would be, oh no, of course not. But look, of course, I would say, for me, yes. Speaking from my perspective, yes, I want to live in a white country,” he said, adding that he feels more at home in European countries than Asian or Hispanic nations.
“Every people thinks of itself as a chosen people on some level. As unique and special. Obviously Jews have taken that to the next level with their sense of chosenness,” he added.
Whites aren’t superior “from an objective, scientific sense,” Spencer said. Africans are better at “running and sprinting” and East Asians have higher IQs, he said.
“The key issue is really not superiority. It’s difference. I don’t want to lose that coherence to the white race,” he concluded.
But the Anti-Defamation League doesn’t buy Spencer’s insistence that’s he’s not a hate-monger and he’s not inciting violence.
“The fact is that Richard Spencer and his cohorts are white supremacists and their ultimate goal is to have a white ethno-state, and that’s based on the idea that different races should live separately. They’re very much opposed to diversity,” Marilyn Mayo, a director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, told us this week. “They promote both racist and anti-Semitic ideas. Their message definitely is not a message of unity, but it is a hateful message.”
Regarding the clashes that have erupted at some of his speeches, Mayo said that Spencer doesn’t promote violence.
“They don’t have a history of promoting violence, but it’s clear that the ideas that they’re promoting are based on hateful views,” she said.
Both Spencer’s supporters and counter-protestors have come to the events prepared to engage in battle, Mayo noted.
“I think that Spencer himself has not promoted violence. But he has also brought white supremacists to these events who are there to protect him, and those people have a tendency towards violence,” she said.