In audio first put online by right-wing pundit and provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos on Saturday, white nationalist Richard Spencer can allegedly be heard ranting about Jewish people and mixed-race people.
The audio — purportedly from an emergency meeting that took place on August 13, 2017, the day after the far-right “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, disintegrated into violence, resulting in the murder of a counterprotester named Heather Heyer — features Spencer screaming racist and anti-Semitic slurs he has generally avoided using in public in an effort to more politely argue for “the creation of a White Ethno-State.”
Spencer is perhaps the most prominent and arguably the most successful of the so-called “alt-right” white nationalist activists attempting to inject overtly racist ideas into mainstream political thought. In fact, Spencer can be credited (alongside Peter Brimelow and Paul Gottfried) with inventing the term “alt-right,” resulting in the magazine Alternative Right in 2010. I emailed Spencer for comment and will update if I hear back.
Milo just uploaded leaked audio of Richard Spencer reacting to the death of Heather Heyer and the negative press it did to his movement.— BAILEY, THE LIBTARDTARIAN (@atheist_cvnt) November 4, 2019
Just in case there was any question of the so-called "dapper white nationalist" being a raged fuelled hateful monster.
Explicit warning. pic.twitter.com/KpVk2fLYSu
By appearing polite and somewhat well dressed (with multiple ill-fitting waistcoats, for example) and using watered-down terminology like “peaceful ethnic cleansing,” the “self-styled prophet” of the alt-right has waged a media campaign for the last several years to build his own reputation and that of his movement, using Donald Trump’s campaign as a vehicle to make the case for a seemingly kinder, gentler white nationalism.
In interviews Spencer and other white nationalists give to mainstream audiences (like those watching him on CNN and on college campuses), white nationalism is simply a civil rights movement for white people, taking a stand for white Americans in need of defending — at the very least, a differing viewpoint worthy of contemplation and analysis.
That was a lie, as has been blatantly obvious for more than a decade. But now, the mask — or perhaps more aptly, the hood — has dropped, hopefully for good.
“They get ruled by people like me”
The audio of Spencer’s rant from Charlottesville is about 54 seconds long. In the tape, Spencer expresses his ire at the city of Charlottesville and at those he perceives as responsible for why “Unite the Right” became a death knell for a rising alt-right — namely, Jewish people and mixed-race people. The audience can be heard occasionally applauding and saying “yeah!”:
We are coming back here like a hundred fucking times. I am so mad. I am so fucking mad at these people. They don’t do this to fucking me. We are going to fucking ritualistically humiliate them. I am coming back here every fucking weekend if I have to. Like this is never over. I win! They fucking lose! That’s how the world fucking works.
Little fucking kikes. They get ruled by people like me. Little fucking octoroons ... I fucking ... my ancestors fucking enslaved those little pieces of fucking shit. I rule the fucking world. Those pieces of fucking shit get ruled by people like me. They look up and see a face like mine looking down at them. That’s how the fucking world works. We are going to destroy this fucking town.
An octoroon is an offensive and extremely dated term for someone who is one-eighth black; another slur he uses is targeted at Jewish people.
The audio was put online by Yiannopoulos, whose own racist and offensive remarks and past resulted in his excision from movement conservatism writ large and his removal from Twitter and other social media platforms (a point that Yiannopoulos references in his blog post about Spencer, as Spencer still remains on Twitter.)
Yiannopoulos told me in a statement that the audio was recorded by someone whose identity he has verified, and a second witness verified being in the room for Spencer’s rant while three other people told Yiannopoulos that the “voice is unmistakably (Spencer’s).”
He said, “As for why I published it. I have always publicly hated Spencer, and he has always publicly hated me. He thinks I’m a degenerate racemixing kike and I think he’s a knuckledragging racist in a cheap suit. As you will recall, he was paid to sneak into a bar I was singing karaoke in and throw up Nazi salutes and film it without my knowledge. So it has been very satisfying for me to draw a crisp bright red line between the two of us.”
Yiannopoulos is referencing a BuzzFeed News article investigating Yiannapolous and Breitbart’s ties to white nationalism, which featured 2016 video of Yiannapolous singing “America the Beautiful” at a karaoke bar while Richard Spencer and others gave Nazi salutes in the audience. In a statement to Buzzfeed News at the time, Yiannapolous blamed his “severe myopia” for why he didn’t see the salutes. Spencer was also in attendance for Yiannopoulos’ “Gays for Trump” event during the 2016 Republican National Convention.
The tempest in an alt-right teapot
The release of this audio is impossible to understand without some context: A civil war of sorts is taking place within the far-right over what strategy is necessary to take white nationalist views mainstream and whether or not to do so within the MAGA or Trumpist movement.
It’s a battle that’s both personality-driven and ideological, between supporters of Spencer and the “alt-right” more generally and supporters of the “dissident right” or the so-called “America First” movement, led in part by 22-year-old Nick Fuentes, a former conservative radio host and Unite the Right attendee who is growing in popularity with the white nationalist movement. The neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer has semi-ironically termed him the “leader blessed by Christ to save America,” and neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin wrote on the site that he was a “VERY EARLY supporter of Nick Fuentes” because of his “nationalist” views.
Fuentes has recently become better known outside of white nationalist circles as his “Groyper Army” — “groyper” being an alt-right term referencing the Pepe the Frog meme — have been filmed bombarding Charlie Kirk of the right-leaning student organization Turning Point USA with questions about gay conservatives, Israel and immigration, gaining supportive retweets and messages from right-leaning pundits like Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin who want to push the MAGA movement further right.
To the Daily Stormer and the “dissident right” and white nationalist movement at large, Spencer is “another boring boomer meme,” while Fuentes is young and exciting. Spencer has been one of Fuentes’s biggest critics — and a critic of the youth-driven “dissident right” more broadly — and so left-wing observers have argued that the audio dump is an effort by Yiannopoulos to silence Spencer and help Fuentes.
In fact, the first half of the video released by Yiannopoulos is an interview hosted by a French Canadian alt-right YouTuber in which Spencer references Fuentes explicitly, saying he’s not sure he’s the right person to lead the “Zoomer” generation of white nationalists. I emailed Yiannopoulos a second time to ask about Fuentes, but he did not respond.
On his Telegram account, Fuentes told his followers not to be distracted by the Spencer audio dump. “It just seems like a big diversion from the Groyper War which is productive and attacking the real problem. Like yea Richard Spencer is a retarded idiot uhhh what else is new? The guy is irrelevant anyway.”
He added, “We have to keep our message focused but we cannot moderate for the sake of mass appeal. America is NOT a propositional nation. We have NO ALLEGIANCE to Israel. We are CHRISTIANS and we don’t promote degeneracy. Demographic replacement is REAL and it will be CATASTROPHIC.”
This is what white nationalism was; this is what white nationalism is
Richard Spencer’s rant is not at all surprising. This is, after all, the same white nationalist who led a torch-lit march through Lee Park in Charlottesville several months before the “Unite the Right” rally where attendees chanted “you will not replace us” and “blood and soil” — both specific references to racist ideologies that Spencer and others have attempted to push into movement conservatism and mainstream politics. Alongside white nationalist Jason Kessler, Spencer organized “Unite the Right” as well, an event that one attendee described as an effort to defend white people and the South against “the Jew and his dark-skinned allies.”
“You will not replace us” refers to the idea that white Americans are being “replaced” by non-white people through “demographic replacement,” while “blood and soil” is perhaps better known in its original German, “Blut und boden,” the concept that “blood” (meaning racial identity) and “soil” (referencing the land) are inextricably linked and that peasants and farmers were the most racially “German,” while urban dwellers were racially suspicious. In 1933, “blood and soil” even became an official Nazi policy, requiring that farmers were certifiably “Aryan” in order to receive certain benefits from the state.
Much of Spencer’s efforts, and that of the alt-right and white nationalist movement more broadly, has been to make these ideas palatable to mainstream audiences, attempting to destigmatize them and strip them of both their historical roots and their real meaning.
Even terms like “racist” are replaced with phrases meant to sound less offensive, like “racial realist,” and to posit that racist and anti-Semitic invective is simply asking tough questions about the alleged harms of diversity and immigration and America’s relationship with Israel. As long as white nationalists and alt-right advocates avoid saying certain words out loud, it seems they can continue to put their views forward in mainstream culture and in Congress as real ideas worthy of contentious debate.
But underneath the complicated wording and fake concern about how interracial marriage is harmful because, as Fuentes told me earlier this year, “Race can be a difficult barrier for compatibility” — underneath all that, the alt-right’s racism is just racism. It’s the same racism so evidently obvious on websites like the Daily Stormer, which has “race war” and “Jewish Problem” tabs on the masthead. It’s the same racism screamed in audio from Richard Spencer, who rants about Jews and black people using slurs and how he should get to rule them because “that’s how the fucking world works.”
Richard Spencer has spent a decade attempting to edge his views into the mainstream, the same effort the alt-right and so-called “America First” movement is taking on as we speak. But thinly veiled or ironic, wearing a suit or khakis or arguing for “traditional values” against “degeneracy” racism is racism. And Richard Spencer’s racism and anti-Semitism have helpfully been made clear — and undeniable.