Richard Spencer, who has become the most public face of the Alt Right dived into diversity and social justice itself in his speech at Texas A & M University (supposedly a relatively conservative place), where we was met with some considerable hostility from the audience.
One of the things that struck me about the event, and has been in the back of my mind for a while on Spencer, are some parallels to George Lincoln Rockwell, the leader of the American Nazi Party, –later the National Socialist White People’s Party, who also gave talks at American universities. With the current sensitivities to publicly avoid associations with ‘Nazis’, I imagine some of us will bristle at that comparison, but we need some kind of safespace to explore these ideas, and as far as I understand it, Rockwell’s use of the term Nazi and adoption of uniforms was a turn off to a lot of people at the time, even though the Holocaust Industry™ –as it is understood today– hadn’t yet developed into the monster it would. Nonetheless, Rockwell is an important figure in the history of the Right, he was a very good man with good intentions, who tried to tackle the problems as they were then with tools he felt were appropriate.
Of course in Spencer’s case, he doesn’t call himself the leader of the AltRight – which, not being a party, would have difficulty defining a leader as such, but as its most public face, he has –de facto– become something of a leader regardless, and therein lies the parallel to Rockwell.
I think it’s partly down to that some people felt angry that Spencer and some of his guests had walked into something of a (completely well-intentioned in my view and for which he was unreasonably attacked over) technical PR blunder at his NPI conference, which the media wasn’t going to accept as a statement of defiance against thought-policing or irony, but actually to dishonestly present it as ‘evidence’ of EVIL NAZIS.
As far as the Texas A&M event goes, one difference between Spencer and Rockwell is that Spencer came off as more aggressive, and more defensive, although we should keep in mind Spencer had to cope with a hostile and heckling crowd, one which was probably considerably more diverse than in Rockwell’s day.
And I can only applaud Spencer's bravery to dive into a cauldron of hostility and hatred. Spencer made very solid points again and again. I liked the almost spiritual aspect; speaking to the connectedness of whites as a group, or at least how in an ideal world, there ought to be, and it raises the question: what can we do to develop that ?
I really liked his defiance when he said things like 'We don't need foreign workers, we can damn well do those jobs ourselves', or words to that effect.
I liked how he tied it into Trump and Trump’s MAGA slogan, ‘and what does it really mean that America isn’t great ?’
Yet the ideas also sometimes felt wrapped in an air of superiority and antagonism, and I don't actually mean racial superiority as the media obsessively declares, I mean snobbishness.
There is no question that Whites have a lot to be angry and antagonistic about and there are things that are happening to Whites which far outweigh a few SJWs and diversity-quota types being offended. Frankly, I could say far worse things than were said by Spencer.
But if the Right is suddenly as interested as it now claims to be in these micro-managed ‘optics’ – about how small things will play with the media and public, you have to start thinking about what signals you are sending to normies, curious types and the undecided out there.
Again, Spencer’s points were completely solid, but his body language, expressions and tone were rather frequently those of the bad guy in the movie, an actor playing the bad guy, in fact playing up the bad guy. It may have been a response to the hostility of the crowd there, but there have been glimmers of that in Spencer elsewhere, including at the NPI Conference, which could have been a partial factor in leading to the issue he was harshly criticized for. Coming across like an elite member of the Hellfire Club is going to be a turn off for some people.
He didn’t need the evil smile. He didn’t need to keep looking over the shoulder of the person asking him a question to talk to someone else instead, as if they are not important – frankly that is a kind of ‘supremacism’, albeit socially. I’m kind of undecided whether he needed to personally attack some ridiculous fat SJW -even if the SJW did deserve it.
And let’s be clear, I’m not here to defend trash, including our own white trash, of which there is an abundance, but if we are talking about presentation – about how it looks, I think Spencer needs to moderate this villain act, and start to just be the good guy. The Right has been heavily marginalized over the years, so there is a genuine and real anger. We are told so often that we are ‘bad’ and ‘evil’ so it should be of little surprise if we start becoming the villain, but it may be something we will have to learn to resist if we want to grow our audience, at least when speaking publicly.
It also reminds me a little of David Duke on Alex Jones’ show last year, in which –unlike his experiences with the establishment media, Duke really was given the floor, but still came across as bitter, defensive and kept claiming he was being interrupted.
Look, everyone who is a public face of the Right, needs to just relax into their role, relax into their arguments. Emotion and passion are great, and there were some real moments of that in Spencer’s talk, but the energy of the Right can also sometimes have these threads of eccentricity and zealousness, some of which need to be hidden away in a box along with the Nazi uniforms, or at least directed carefully if reaching more people is now The big goal.
Having said all that, from what I'm reading, I don't think the media itself were overly sensitive to this, although it was hinted at:
Yet he clearly took pleasure in presenting ideals that aren’t in the mainstream of civil discourse.
It’s less an issue for the media who will just lie and misrepresent everything anyway, it’s more for people you want to recruit. The media are largely hurling the usual “White supremacist” shit at Spencer’s lecture, which is an indication they are just as adamant as always not to discuss the actual issues, which means it was a success. And overwhelmingly, I think it was a success.
It will be interesting to see how it affects Spencer’s standing with his critics on the Right over the NPI-media-fake-news-Nazi-salute scandal.