Politics & Government

The Founder of the Alt-Right Is From Dallas

Mother Jones has a profile of Richard Spencer.

richardspencer
Richard Spencer

The “white nationalist” responsible for coining the phrase “alt-right” is, unfortunately, from Dallas. Mother Jones has a profile of him today:

Growing up in a wealthy part of Dallas in the 1990s, Richard Bertrand Spencer attended St. Mark’s School of Texas, an elite, all-boys prep school long associated with blue-blooded conservatism. (I was also a student there around the same time.) George W. Bush lived in the same neighborhood and sent his daughters to St. Mark’s sister school, Hockaday. Spencer’s father, an ophthalmologist, did not care much about politics but voted Republican out of habit. Spencer played varsity football and baseball and hung out with the popular crowd.

Every Thursday after school, Spencer, his mom, and his sister would order pizza from Domino’s and watch Family Ties and The Cosby Show. Spencer was friends with the only African American student in his class, John Lewis, and once invited him for a sleepover. Lewis says he never thought of Spencer as racist, but another classmate who asked not to be identified recalls Spencer making “a bunch of conservative, racially laced comments” that were objectionable even in high school. Spencer says he has no memory of this and attributes the recollection to “backward projection,” noting that he did not think much about race back then.

After graduating high school in 1997, Spencer went to the University of Virginia, where he double-majored in music and English and became deeply involved in avant-garde theater, trying out and discarding various radical ideologies like costume changes. The writings of Friedrich Nietzsche made a lasting impression; Spencer found his critiques of equality and democracy darkly compelling. He identified with the German philosopher’s unapologetically elitist embrace of “great men” such as Napoleon Bonaparte and the composer Richard Wagner. Yet Spencer found little in Nietzsche about the organization of the state; it was only after entering the humanities master’s program at the University of Chicago that he discovered Jared Taylor, a self-proclaimed “race realist” who argues that blacks and Hispanics are a genetic drag on Western society.

Comments