Next weekend, the second-largest government building will play host to a white nationalist confab, entitled “The Future of Identity,” featuring some of the far right’s most notorious speakers, theorists and figureheads.
The conference at the Ronald Reagan Building is hosted by the National Policy Institute, now directed by Richard Spencer, a former conservative journalist who turned his back on what he saw as the futility of GOP-aligned movement politics.
The NPI was founded in 2005 by people who came to the same conclusion: William H. Regnery II, of the Regnery publishing family, along with Samuel Francis, and Louis Andrews. Andrews, for example, voted for Obama that the Republican party might be destroyed, “so it can be reborn as a party representing the interests of white people.”
“NPI promotes the American majority’s unique historical, cultural, and biological inheritance — and advances policies that, without prejudicing the legitimate rights of others, fearlessly defends our rights,” reads a statement on their website.
The nonprofit includes Washington Summit Publishers, which releases books on subfields of interest to white nationalists; the demographic eclipse of the white population, European civilization, and human biodiversity. Their journal’s first volume, for sale on the Washington Summit Publishers website, includes the description: “The White man lives in a world his race once dominated and in which Black and Brown are now colonizers, in which European heritage is being taken away piece by piece.”
Today the most common political goal of the educated white nationalists of NPI’s ilk, is the establishment of a “white ethno-state” in North America. South Africa for the blacks, Israel for the Jews, and Montana for the whites; it’s a matter of fairness.
A former editor at The American Conservative and editor of Takimag, Spencer has since decamped to Whitefish, Montana, a hub for white nationalist activities. Last month he was profiled in Salon, in a piece that began with the amusing detail of this notorious racist sipping a chai latte. With adjectives like “tidy,” “clean-cut” and “professorial,” it repeated a trope common to descriptions of the 35 year-old ethnoseparatist — since he dresses well, went to UVA, and avoids the sort of hysterical slurs one hears from most white nationalists, he’s “approachable” and therefore all the more dangerous.
All of these things are true — though he did threaten Huffington Post blogger Alex Knepper at CPAC in 2009, and often writes stridently, like this defense of Qaddafi (for keeping brown refugees out of Europe) – but one suspects author Lauren Fox may have been just a bit charmed by him, or else Salon’s editors just removed any description of just how unlikely Spencer’s fantasies are to ever come true. With the “New Confederacy” kick they’ve been hammering for the last several weeks, they’re obviously in the business of exaggerating threats.
Spencer knows the Flathead Valley will never become a white enclave in his or his grandchildren’s lifetime. When asked about what his plan for taking power was, exactly, Spencer replied that he sees himself more of a guru of the far-right, “inspiring” the next generation. TheDC reached him by phone on Thursday, while Spencer was on his way to speak to the Traditional Britain Group, a fringe group vice-chaired by an embezzler and former Rhodesian named Gregory Lauder-Frost, who has described the Nuremberg trials as a “farce.”
If there’s something to be said for NPI’s strategy, it’s that they recognize that swastikas and Confederate flags are an immediate turn-off for many of people they would like to reach. In fact, one of the more striking things about the conference’s roster is the lack of notable figures on the American far right; people like former NPI director Jared Taylor, now editor of American Renaissance, whose latest book is called White Identity: Racial Consciousness in the 21st Century and features Caspar Friedrich’s Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer on the cover, or arch-restrictionist Peter Brimelow of VDARE. They have all spoken at NPI in the past.
Yet, a thing Salon would never tell you is that the far right in America has fragmented dramatically in the last several years, with the dissolution of the neo-Nazi National Alliance and the passing of people like Louis Andrews and Sam Francis. They have been largely replaced by Internet-driven affiliations, ad hoc groups, and other distributed methods of organization, and tend to avoid using the typical symbols of the far right.
The NPI conference’s choice of speakers also reflects this shift, though Spencer denies it is intentional (and notes Taylor, at least, will be in attendance). Instead, the roster includes, along with the usual Alternative Right contributors and a former Klan attorney, mostly people from the European Nouvelle Droite. Another interesting inclusion is Jack Donovan, straight out of the “manosphere,” a network of self-described anti-feminist bloggers and internet lurkers who seem to think there’s something courageous about misogyny. Donovan, for his part, is so manly he had to buy a dress shirt just for the conference.
It might seem that this is just a particularly nasty internet subculture, and it is, but their numbers are growing and they can be quite abusive, as a recent 20/20 report found.
The NPI’s conference reflects the far right’s embrace of “men’s rights” idiocy and growing ties with like-minded Europeans, but the trend appears to be happening more broadly. Darryl Lamont Jenkins of the One People’s Project — who once tangled with Andrew Breitbart and regularly monitors far-right events — has been providing advice to next weekend’s inevitable protestors. He describes a recent decline in fringe activities: “It’s slowed down a lot over the past four or five years. I would say in the course of the thirteen years that One People’s Project has been around, we average five a year. I remember when we got started around 2000, we were going out to about three or four a month.”
But recently the events have been more frequent, a shift Jenkins attributes to discontent at America’s immigration policy. “This month we’ve actually seen about four or five around the country,” he says, “and that is the most activity we’ve had in a long time.”
Needless to say, the event has attracted criticism and will be protested; NPI and American Renaissance events are often shut down entirely. Spencer claims this is a reason why they decided to have the event at the secure Ronald Reagan building — you have to go through metal detectors to get in — though more likely he had a hard time finding a private venue that would host them.
A MoveOn.org petition has been started asking the GSA to deny the group use of the Ronald Reagan building. It only has 28 signatures as of this writing, but admittedly, Spencer only expects “about a hundred” on his end — most people just don’t care about this stuff.
This reporter tried to attend a protest “logistics planning” session at DC’s “Peace House” on Thursday, supposedly the fifth such meeting, only to find a closed metal gate. A crusty-looking young woman with several facial piercings and a vest came to the door and said they were only “crafting” as a gentleman behind her shooed me away. They also said I had the wrong address; I didn’t — who could mistake the “Justice for Trayvon” sign and peace pole — but didn’t feel like pressing the issue.
The activist who has emerged as the de facto leader of the protests — “they let me call the shots,” though officially, of course, they are leaderless — is Marina Miranda, who went on a YoungTurks-affiliated web show to draw attention to the NPI’s activities. She attended the counter-protest when NPI held a similar conference at the Reagan Building in 2011.
TheDC inquired about how many protestors they were expecting. “I’m not too sure how many,” she said, “we’re guessing maybe 40.”
(Disclosure: The author is also a former editor at The American Conservative, though he left; Spencer was fired for his views.)
(Correction: VDare editor Peter Brimelow emails, regarding the 2011 National Policy Institute conference, “My presence was advertised, but I did not attend for personal reasons.” According to their 2010 990, the VDare Foundation donated about $35,000 to help Spencer found Alternative Right, which shared a PO box with NPI.)