Spencer was one of the featured speakers at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which drew national attention after violent clashes caused Virginia GovernorTerry McAuliffe to declare a state of emergency, and eventually resulted in injuries and three deaths. Some of his subsequent speaking engagements were denied or canceled, resulting in a lawsuit against Michigan State University and the threat of legal action against the University of Florida. An agreement was reached with the University of Florida allowing him to speak in October 2017. Several days before his scheduled appearance, Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency, citing concerns about a "potential emergency" that could result from Spencer's appearance. Spencer has also been banned from entering the United Kingdom since 2016 and he was then banned from entering the Schengen Area in October 2017, a move that bans Spencer from 22 of 26 European Union member states, and also Switzerland, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia.
From March to December 2007, Spencer was assistant editor at The American Conservative magazine. According to founding editor Scott McConnell, Spencer was fired from The American Conservative because his views were considered too extreme. From January 2008 to December 2009, he was executive editor of Taki's Magazine.
In March 2010, Spencer founded AlternativeRight.com, a website he edited until 2012. He has stated that he created the term alt-right.
In January 2011, Spencer also became President and Director of the National Policy Institute (NPI), a think tank previously based in Virginia and Montana. George Hawley, an assistant professor of Political Science at the University of Alabama, has described NPI as "rather obscure and marginalized" until Spencer became its president.
In 2014, Spencer was deported from Budapest, Hungary (and because of the Schengen Agreement, is banned from 26 countries in Europe for three years) after trying to organize the National Policy Institute Conference, a conference for white nationalists.
White nationalist protesters clash with police during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia
On February 23, 2017, Spencer was removed from the Conservative Political Action Conference where he was giving statements to the press. A CPAC spokesman said he was removed from the event because other members found him "repugnant".
In August 2017, Spencer was listed on posters promoting the Charlottesville, Virginia, Unite the Right rally, which devolved into a notorious and violent confrontation.
In November 2017, Twitter removed from Spencer's account the blue check mark that, reported The Washington Post, "the company gives to prominent accounts to help readers ensure they are authentic." Spencer told The Post he was worried this would lead to Twitter banning people like him.
During a speech Spencer gave in mid-November 2016 at an alt-right conference attended by approximately 200 people in Washington, D.C., Spencer quoted Nazi propaganda in the original German and denounced Jews. Audience members cheered and made the Nazi salute when he said, "Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!" and extended his right arm with a glass to toast that victory. Spencer later defended their conduct, stating that the Nazi salute was given in a spirit of "irony and exuberance". It was later revealed that Spencer had made the Nazi Salute at a karaoke bar in April 2016.
On January 20, 2017, Spencer attended the inauguration of Donald Trump. As he was giving an impromptu interview on a nearby street afterwards, a masked man punched Spencer in the face, then fled. A video of the incident was posted online, leading to divergent views on whether the attack was appropriate.
After the University of Florida's August 2017 denial of Spencer's request to speak the following month, Floridian lawyer Gary Edinger threatened to sue the university for violating the First Amendment by prohibiting Spencer from speaking despite being a publicly funded institution. The university subsequently reached an agreement with Edinger allowing Spencer to speak on October 19, 2017. Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for Alachua County on October 16, saying "I find that the threat of a potential emergency is imminent" as a result of Spencer's appearance.
The speech, which was Spencer's first public appearance after the Charlottesville rally, was disrupted by loud protests. When drowned out by chants from the audience, he grew visibly frustrated, stating that the protestors were interfering with his freedom of speech. He added: "you are all engaged in what’s known as the heckler's veto.” According to Clay Calvert, director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, non-violent protesting, booing and suggesting that the speaker leave was not a heckler's veto in law. The speech and the concurrent protests were largely peaceful.
Later that day, three of Spencer's supporters were arrested on felony charges following an alleged discharge of a firearm, directed at protestors leaving the event. The three suspects were residents of Texas who had travelled to Florida to hear Spencer speak. According to the Gainesville Police Department, they had shouted “Hail Hitler” and gave Nazi salutes immediately before the alleged attack. Authorities said that two of the suspects had known links to extremist groups. The men had participated in the August 2017 Unite the Right rally, where Spencer had been scheduled to speak. All three were charged with attempted homicide.
In the aftermath of the October 19 events, Ohio State University declined Spencer's request to allow him to speak on campus, citing "substantial risk to public safety". In response, a lawyer representing Spencer's associate and organizer of his speaking tour filed a lawsuit against the university.
In 2013, a dispute at a ski club in his hometown of Whitefish, Montana, drew public attention to Spencer and his political views.
In 2014, a pro-tolerance group affiliated with the Montana Human Rights Network rallied against Spencer's residency in Whitefish. In response, the city council approved a non-discrimination resolution.
In December 2016, Republican Representative Ryan Zinke, Republican Senator Steve Daines, Democratic Senator Jon Tester, Democratic Governor Steve Bullock and Republican Attorney General Tim Fox condemned a neo-Nazi march that had been planned for January 2017. The community of Whitefish organized in opposition to the event, and the march never occurred.
Race and ethnicity
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Spencer has advocated for a white homeland for a "dispossessed white race" and called for "peaceful ethnic cleansing" to halt the "deconstruction" of European culture. To this end he has supported what he has called "the creation of a White Ethno-State on the North American continent", an "ideal" that he has regarded as a "reconstitution of the Roman Empire." Prior to the UK vote to leave the EU, Spencer expressed support for the multi-national bloc "as a potential racial empire" and an alternative to "American hegemony", stating that he has "always been highly skeptical of so-called 'Euro-Skeptics.'"
In 2013, the Anti-Defamation League called Spencer a leader in white supremacist circles and said that after leaving The American Conservative he rejected conservatism, because he believed its adherents "can't or won't represent explicitly white interests."
In one interview in which he was asked if he would condemn the KKK and Adolf Hitler, he refused by saying "I’m not going to play this game," while stating that Hitler had "done things that I think are despicable," without elaborating on which things he was referring to.
In a 2016 interview for Time magazine, Spencer said he rejected white supremacy and the slavery of nonwhites, preferring to establish America as a white ethnostate.
Spencer supported Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and called Trump's election "the victory of will," a phrase evoking the title of Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will (1935), a Nazi-era propaganda film. Upon Trump's appointment of Steve Bannon as chief White House strategist and senior counselor, Spencer said Bannon would be in "the best possible position" to influence policy.
During the 2016 United States presidential election, Spencer tweeted that women should not be allowed to make foreign policy. He also stated in an interview with the Washington Post that his vision of America as an ethnostate included women returning to traditional roles as childbearers and homemakers. In October 2017, when asked his opinion on American women having the right to vote, he said "I don't necessarily think that that’s a great thing" after stating that he was "not terribly excited" about voting in general.
Spencer opposes same-sex marriage, which he has described as "unnatural" and a "non-issue," commenting that "very few gay men will find the idea of monogamy to their liking."
Despite his opposition to same-sex marriage, Spencer barred people with anti-gay views from the National Policy Institute's annual conference in 2015.
In 2010, Spencer moved to Whitefish, Montana. He says he splits his time between Whitefish and Arlington, Virginia, although he has said he has lived in Whitefish for over 10 years, and considers it home. As of 2017 Spencer was renting a house in Alexandria, Virginia.
He was separated from his Georgian-Russian American wife, Nina Kouprianova, in October 2016; however, in April 2017 Spencer said he and his wife were not separated and are still together. Kouprianova has translated several books written by Aleksandr Dugin, a Russian political analyst known for his fascist views. The books were later published by Spencer's publishing house, Washington Summit Publishers.
Spencer is an atheist. He has also described himself as a "cultural Christian."
Mangan, Katherine. "A push to 'expand white privilege': Richard B. Spencer president, National Policy Institute, a white-supremacist group." The Chronicle of Higher Education, December 9, 2016, A6+.
Zalman, Jonathan. "Neo-Nazi Website Tells Readers to 'Take Action' Against Jews on Behalf of Richard Spencer's Mother in Montana." Tablet Magazine, December 19, 2016. "Critics of Richard Spencer the white supremacist, alt-right leader who dreams of an "ethno-state"are making their voices heard..."
"Campus clashes as US white supremacist gives speech." London Evening Standard [London, England], 7 Dec. 2016, p. 22. "Hundreds of demonstrators clashed with riot police at a protest against a white supremacist's speech at a leading American university. Richard Spencer, who gained notoriety for holding a so-called "alt-right" meeting celebrating Donald Trump's election triumph with Nazi rhetoric, told students attending the speech at the Texas A&M University last night: 'At the end of the day, America belongs to white men.'"
Gretel Kauffman, "White supremacists convene in celebration of Trump victory", Christian Science Monitor, November 20, 2016. The annual conference of the National Policy Institute, a white supremacist think tank, experienced a rise in attendance this year... 'It’s been an awakening,' Richard Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute, said at the conference."
^ abcdeWood, Graeme (June 2017). "His Kampf". The Atlantic. Retrieved May 16, 2017. In 2011, he moved from Washington to Whitefish, Montana, where his mother owns a vacation home and a commercial building. (She is the heiress to cotton farms in Louisiana, and his father is a respected Dallas ophthalmologist.)
^Hawley, George (2017). Making Sense of the Alt-Right. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 59. ISBN 9780231185127. OCLC987742156. Despite the innocuous name, NPI has since its inception been a white-nationalist organization. The organization was rather obscure and marginalized until Spencer was chosen as its new president in 2011, at which point Alternative Right became an NPI initiative.
^"Richard Spencer: A Symbol Of The New White Supremacy". Anti-Defamation League. May 14, 2013. Retrieved August 20, 2017. In 2010 and 2011, leaders of the now defunct racist student group, Youth for Western Civilization, invited Spencer to speak at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee and Providence College in Rhode Island.
^Spencer, Richard. "Richard Spencer's Full Q&A at Auburn University". YouTube.com. Retrieved 4 June 2017. Audience Member: Your ex-wife is a Russian American and you have a child together. Please explain that. Spencer: She's not my ex-wife. Audience Member: Or you're separated, right? Spencer: No. Audience Member: Okay, so the thing I said is that you are separated or whatever. So you're still together? Spencer: Yes
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