Richard B. Spencer

Last updated on 19 October 2017

Richard Bertrand Spencer (born May 11, 1978) is an American white supremacist.[1] He is president of the National Policy Institute, a white supremacist think tank, as well as Washington Summit Publishers. Spencer has stated that he rejects the label of white supremacist, and prefers to describe himself as an identitarian.[2][3][4] He has advocated for a white homeland for a "dispossessed white race" and called for "peaceful ethnic cleansing" to halt the "deconstruction" of European culture.[5] Spencer and others have said that he created the term "alt-right",[6] which he considers a movement about white identity.[7][8][9]

Spencer and his organization drew considerable media attention in the weeks following the 2016 US presidential election, where, at a National Policy Institute conference, he quoted from Nazi propaganda and denounced Jews.[9] In response to his cry "Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!", a number of his supporters gave the Nazi salute and chanted in a similar fashion to the Sieg heil chant used at the Nazis' Nuremberg rallies. Spencer has also refused to denounce Adolf Hitler or the KKK.[10]

Richard B. Spencer in 2016.jpg
Richard B. Spencer in 2016.jpg

Early life

Spencer was born in Boston, Massachusetts,[11] the son of ophthalmologist Rand Spencer and Sherry Spencer (née Dickenhorst),[12][13] an heiress to cotton farms in Louisiana.[14] He grew up in Preston Hollow, Dallas, Texas.[15] In 1997, he graduated from St. Mark's School of Texas.[14] In 2001, Spencer received a B.A. in English Literature and Music from the University of Virginia and, in 2003, an M.A. in the Humanities from the University of Chicago.[14] He spent the summer of 2005 and 2006 at the Vienna International Summer University.[16] From 2005 to 2007, he was a Ph.D. student at Duke University studying modern European intellectual history, where he was a member of the Duke Conservative Union.[14][12] His website says he left Duke "to pursue a life of thought-crime."[17]


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.[12] From January 2008 to December 2009, he was executive editor of Taki's Magazine.[18]

In March 2010, Spencer founded, a website he edited until 2012. He has stated that he created the term alt-right.[9]

In January 2011, Spencer became Executive Director of Washington Summit Publishers.[19] In 2012, Spencer founded Radix Journal as a biannual publication of Washington Summit Publishers.[18] Contributions have included articles by Kevin B. MacDonald, Alex Kurtagić, and Samuel T. Francis (1947–2005).[20] He also hosts a weekly podcast, Vanguard Radio.

In January 2011, Spencer also became President and Director of The National Policy Institute (NPI), a think tank previously based in Virginia and Montana.[21]

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.[22][23]

On January 15, 2017 (Martin Luther King. Jr.'s birthday), Spencer launched, another commentary website for alt-right members.[24] According to Spencer, the site is a populist and big tent site for members of the alt-right.[25] The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the common thread among contributors as antisemitism, rather than white nationalism or white supremacism in general.[26][27]  Notable contributors on include Henrik Palmgren, Brittany Pettibone, and Jared Taylor.[28][29][30]

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".[31]

Lee Park, Charlottesville, VA.jpg
The Robert Edward Lee Sculpture in Charlottesville, Virginia

On May 13, 2017, Spencer led a torch-lit protest in Charlottesville, Virginia against the vote of the city council to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during the American Civil War.[32] Spencer led the crowd in chants of "You will not replace us" and "Blood and soil."[33][34] Michael Signer, the mayor of Charlottesville, called the protest "horrific" and stated that it was either "profoundly ignorant" or intended to instill fear among minorities "in a way that hearkens back to the days of the KKK."[33][35][36]

In August 2017, Spencer was given hierarchical primacy on poster advertisements for the Charlottesville, Virginia Unite the Right rally, which devolved into a notorious and violent confrontation.[37]

Public speaking

Spencer was invited to speak at Vanderbilt University in 2010 and Providence College in 2011 by Youth for Western Civilization.[38][39]

Short clip of Spencer speaking in November 2016.

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.[9] Audience members cheered and made the Nazi salute when he said, "Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!"[9][5] Spencer later defended their conduct, stating that the Nazi salute was given in a spirit of "irony and exuberance".[40]

Groups and events Spencer has spoken to include the Property and Freedom Society,[41] the American Renaissance conference,[42] and the HL Mencken Club.[43] In November 2016, an online petition to prevent Spencer from speaking at Texas A&M University on December 6, 2016 was signed by thousands of students, employees, and alumni.[44] A protest and a university-organized counter-event were held to coincide with Spencer's event.[45]

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.[46][47] A video of the incident was posted online, leading to divergent views on whether the attack was appropriate.[48]

Shortly after the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017, Spencer's request to speak at the University of Florida was denied on public safety grounds after opposition from students and locals of Gainesville, Florida.[49] Due to safety reasons, he was also denied speaking requests at Louisiana State University and Michigan State University in August 2017.[50][51] In September 2017, Cameron Padgett, who tried to book Spencer, sued MSU; he was represented by Kyle Bristow, an MSU alumnus.[52][53]


In 2013, a dispute at a ski club in his hometown of Whitefish, Montana, drew public attention to Spencer and his political views.[54]

The National Policy Institute think tank,, and Radix Journal all use the same mailing address in Whitefish, Montana.[55]

In 2014, local residents in Missoula, Montana, through the Whitefish City Council, initiated upon a non-discrimination resolution, and an organization called Love Lives Here, which is part of the Montana Human Rights Network, rallied against Richard Spencer's residency there.[56]

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.[57] The community of Whitefish organized in opposition to the event, and the march never occurred.[58]



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.[18][19][59] 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."[60][61] 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.'"[62]

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."[63]

In one interview in which he was asked if he would condemn the KKK and Adolf Hitler, he refused, 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.[10]

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.[64]

Spencer supports legal access to abortion, in part because he believes it would reduce the number of black and Hispanic people, which he says would be a "great boon" to white people.[14]


Spencer opposes same-sex marriage,[65] 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."[66]

Despite his opposition to same-sex marriage, Spencer barred people with anti-gay views from the NPI's annual conference in 2015.[67]

Donald Trump

Spencer supported Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and called Trump's victory "the victory of will," a phrase echoing the title of Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will (1935), a Nazi-era propaganda film.[9] 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.[68]


During the 2016 United States presidential election, Spencer tweeted that women should not be allowed to make foreign policy.[69][70] 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.[71][72] 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.[70]

Personal life

In 2010, Spencer moved to Whitefish, Montana. He says he splits his time between Whitefish and Arlington, Virginia,[60][73] although he has said he has lived in Whitefish for over 10 years, and considers it home.[74] As of 2017 Spencer was renting a house in Alexandria, Virginia.[75]

He was separated from his wife, Nina Kouprianova, in October 2016;[12] however, in April 2017 Spencer said he and his wife were not separated and are still together.[76] Nina Kouprianova has translated several books written by Aleksandr Dugin, a Russian political analyst known for his fascist views.[77] The books were later were published by the Spencer's publishing house, "Washington Summit Publishers".[78]

Spencer is an atheist.[79] He has also described himself as a "cultural Christian."[80]


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  75. ^ Feldman, Ari (August 3, 2017). "Can Opponents Push ‘Alt-Right’ Leader Richard Spencer Out Of His Virginia Home?". The Forward. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
  76. ^ Spencer, Richard. "Richard Spencer's Full Q&A at Auburn University". 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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  78. ^ Shekhovtsov, A. Russia and the Western Far Right: Tango Noir. Google Books.
  79. ^ Spencer, Richard. "The Alt Right and Secular Humanism". Retrieved 28 January 2017. McAfee: Are you religious? Do you support the Separation of Church and State? Spencer: I’m an atheist.
  80. ^ Spencer, Richard. "'We're Not Going Anywhere:' Watch Roland Martin Challenge White Nationalist Richard Spencer". Retrieved 5 May 2017. Martin: Are you a Christian? Spencer: I’m an cultural Christian.

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