Category Archives: Academic Racism

Sarah Schulman is Not an Anti-Semite

A recent series of headlines from well-known newspapers and news websites may have caught your eye if you are a fan of Sarah Schulman.  The novelist and playwright is well known both for her stage work and working on LGBT rights, including AIDS activism with ACT UP and direct action organizing with the Lesbian Avengers.  Schulman, now a professor at the City University of New York, is now being touted as a “suit and tie” anti-Semite.

The accusation comes from a CUNY student chapter of Zionist Organization of America, one of the oldest pro-Israel organizations in the world with over 30,000 members.  The accusations come, in part, from her sponsorship of the student organization Students for Justice in Palestine at the College of Staten Island.  Students from the ZOA wrote a letter to state Senator Jack Martins as well as bringing these charges before the CUNY administration.

The content that they use to make these allegations are largely things like tweets, support for the student organization and their work, and her public statements and writing on the Israel/Palestine conflict.  An example of this cited by the ZOA is an October 11, 2014 tweet from Schulman wrote saying, “I question the idea of exceptionalisms[..]The murder of 2,000 Gazans also reflects Jewish values.”  In response to accusations about anti-Semitism in her tweets, she also wrote “That’s not anti-Semitic to say that people who killed people murdered them.”

In 2012 she published Israel/Palestine and the Queer International, a book that shifts a little from her political work of the past.  The allegations have settled largely on, what for Palestinian human rights activists, are pretty standard discussion points.  This includes the violence perpetrated against children in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli Defense Force, using language like “murderers” to describe them.  The students at ZOA have asked for Schulman, who is Jewish herself, to be removed from the adviser for the student group.

The purpose of Students for Justice in Palestine is to harass, intimidate and frankly assault Jews attending schools, and we can’t have the government or the university underwriting a hate group,” wrote Senator Jack Martins, who agreed with the ZOA about the group and Schulman.

The event culminated in forcing Schulman before the CUNY Task Force on Anti-Semitism, formed to look at incidents on the city campuses.  Schulman said afterward that it was clear that the college was after the student group specifically, and the inquiry was less about her and what she had said.  She was forced to discuss accusations against SJP that had no evidence, like the claim that they drew swastikas on campus.  She focused in the conversation about the students that she supported, and how their experience was the focus of the group and how anti-Semitism and homophobia was both never tolerated and never seen.

I also spoke about the students themselves: how much I respect our students, and how much I have been enriched by working with them. How many of our SJP students are Palestinian. Their families have been displaced. Their relatives have been held in illegal detention. They have been denied entry to Israel/Palestine because of their political activism. I told the Task Force that I have come to know the students, and some of their family members. That they have NEVER been anti-semitic or homophobic or done anything that justified any kind of negative institutional response.

One of the accusations was that a “Jewish student” hid her Star of David when she saw Muslim students. Besides the fact that this has nothing to do with SJP, I explained to the Task Force that there are Jews who have dehumanizing views of Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians, and project enormous anxiety onto to them. But that this has nothing to do with Muslim students, themselves. And certainly is not their fault.

In this statement, put on her Facebook on October 22nd, also she discussed Zionism as a concept with the panel, which she said was must different today than the historical trajectory of Judaism.

Then we discussed the relationship between Zionism and Judaism. I testified that since the onset of Zionism, since Theodore Hertzl published his book “The Jewish State” in 1896, there has been disagreement among Jews re Zionism. That for its entire history, for 5,700 years, Judaism has been a dialogic religion rooted in commentary and inquiry. And that this current moment is the only time that Jews have been told to be homogenous in thought. That in fact, this impulse to force all Jews into one opinion is ahistorical and not Judaic.

She went on to discuss how Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League has approved of how CUNY was handling the allegation, showing tacit support for the singling out of Schulman.

When looking at Schulman after the allegations we wanted to be open to the idea that creeping anti-Semitism had, in fact, made its way into her discourse.  This has happened inside of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, not because radical support for the Palestinians and opposition to the State of Israel is inherently anti-Semitic, as Abe Foxman would have you believe.  Instead, it comes from a lack of a clear understanding of the historic role and character of anti-Semitism and the inability to for the movement to confront creeping caricatures, conspiracy theories, and anti-Semitic anger that has made its way in.

Instead, what we found was that Schulman’s accused “anti-Semitism” was almost purely one that is made up of for her pro-Palestinian organizing, and lacked any of the key qualities that anti-Semitism is made up of.  This vision of anti-Semitism is not built on any of the historic understandings of what anti-Semitism actually is, whether it is an unfair conspiratorial view of Jews or a targeting of Jews that is unique to their position as Jews.  Foxman makes the allegations that if you support other national liberation movements but oppose Israel, then you are anti-Semitic, plain and simple.  This erases the historical injustices of the formation of Israel, the colonization of land, the removal of families, the violent ethnic cleansing of the people living in the neighborhoods that was acquired.  It tells us that the ongoing atrocities, the imprisonment of Gaza, the building of Apartheid walls, and the ongoing imperialism in the settlements, is just common to liberation struggles.  This absurdity strips us of the ability to see anti-Semitism as an accurate phenomenon, one that continues as a point of genocidal racism that is not synonymous with criticism of Israel.

The ZOA itself is not a representative Jewish voice, but instead one that is uniquely Israeli in politics.  As Schulman pointed out, there is no “absolute” legacy for Israeli politics inside of the “Jewish people.”  This is, in part, why we oppose the use of the term Zionism, as it is also a Jewish religious concept, only one interpretation of such is actually the modern State of Israel.  We may make different language choices than Schulman has (such as not using the term Zionism), but this does not an anti-Semite make.

When looking through Schulman’s public statements, as well as the allegations of private statements and behavior, we found not one single example where charges of anti-Semitism could be leveled.  The danger this presents should be obvious as a political issue over the behavior of Israel is at stake here, not Jewish people or Judaism as a tradition and faith.  This creates a culture of social criminality for critics of Israel, equating the very real threat of anti-Semitism with incredibly logical politics on the left.  For Sarah Schulman, these allegations could destroy her life, get her fired, force her books to be pulled from shelves, and get her blacklisted from many of the artistic circles she has spent her life and energy to be a part of.  For many young activists, this could end the possibility of careers before they even begin.

At the same time, it obscures the actualities of anti-Semitism, giving reasonable cover to those that do perpetrate images of Jews as evil and conniving.  These voices are increasing as neo-fascists movements increase in the U.S. and Europe, but with a hazy understanding of what actual anti-Semitism is it is becoming more difficult to single those reactionaries out and to create a movement to remove anti-Semitism from the social discourse.

We are especially sensitive to anti-Semitic discourse, going further in our analysis than many would simply because creeping anti-Semitism has occurred inside of left spaces through areas like anti-banking politics and anti-Israeli ideas.  This, however, isn’t an example of that, and the idea that people like Schulman can be targeted with charges of anti-Semitism to wash over important politics is both frightening and revolting.

The incident at CUNY is not unique as a report from the University of California has now made the allegation that opposition to “Zionism” is often just a cover for anti-Semitism.  The administration plans to be asking for regular reports on intolerance, with a focus on anti-Semitism.  This is the kind of monitoring is something we actually support as challenging racism and anti-Semitism on campus is an important battle, but if the equation is that anti-Israeli politics are synonymous with anti-Semitism, then we will see the censorship of Palestinian politics on California campuses under the guise of fighting racism.  This would fundamentally undermine the BDS movement, which has followed the South African Apartheid movement in being heavy on campuses and pulling for campus divestment in Israel and the settlements.  The move would essentially socially criminalize Palestinian activism, and reframe the conversation of Israeli atrocities so that they could never be fairly discussed.

This is a point that Schulman knows well, and even if the CUNY administration decides that neither she nor SJP have done anything wrong, this may taint the conversation on CUNY campuses for years.  For our part, with our position that anti-Semitism should be rooted out at any point, also want to make a clear statement about what anti-Semitism is, and what its not.  We support Schulman and SJP’s work on campus and want to keep a conversation alive about how to correctly identify anti-Semitic behavior, and how to support the Palestinians to find justice.

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Well Dressed Racism: American Renaissance Returns to Tennessee

The modern racialist movement is defined by American Renaissance.  It bridges both the organized racism of the past and the contemporary Alt Right, Human BioDiversity, Neoreaction, and other movements who believe themselves superior to the KKK.  AmRen began in the early 1990s by Jared Taylor, a former West Coast editor for PC magazine and consultant to companies dealing with Japan.  Taylor, raised in Japan before going to Yale and then to France for graduate school, is a very literate and well spoken man.  His enunciation is important to him, so much so that he has developed an elitist accent that is just as artificial as his conference’s attempts at pedigree.  He formed AmRen to give intellectual credibility to his growing racist ideas.  He had already been making waves on the racist right when AmRen came into existence, publishing the book Paved With Good Intentions: The Failure of Race Relations in Contemporary America.  Getting good reviews from people like Pat Buchanan, he launched AmRen as a conference and newsletter that would further disseminate racist views using pseudoacademics and reviving old bio-racial rhetoric.

Beginning in 1990, AmRen brought together a couple hundred racists to talk about…well…racism.  What defined AmRen right from the beginning was really marginal ideas on bioscience that justified the notion that black people were inferior.  Speakers often try to replicate academic discourse, yet their ideas are simply that black people have lower IQs, are prone to criminality, and all races have trouble trusting one another for biologically deterministic reasons.  These conferences are also notable in the white nationalist community for its lack of anti-Semitism, though most of the conference attendees are only putting on a face for this event.  Several Jewish speakers have been seen at AmRen, including the ultra-Orthodox Rabbi Mayer Schiller and Mark Levin.  Both of them have been known for writing about IQ gaps and the need for traditional, racially static communities.

Over the years there have been speeches by controversial academics like J. Phillip Rushton, Richard Lynn, and Donald Templer, all of which quickly drop their veneer of respectable scholarship so that they can insult and degrade people of color.  This is all in line with what in “Human BioDiversity” circles is often called the “Yellow Hypothesis.”  This essentially revives a racial taxonomy and hierarchy, but one that shifts the dynamics slightly.  In this view, according to their theories on innate IQ, Asians have the highest IQs, whites just below them, then Latinos far below that and African descended people scraping the bottom of the list along with Australian aborigines.  This is what they use to refuse the label of “white supremacist,” but the dynamic is to suggest that Asians actually lack other qualities because of their high level IQs and therefore whites are essentially “just right.”  Jews, according to this, actually have higher IQs than Asians, but the AmRen crowd usually save that part of their analysis until the conference is over.  What some attendees, such as Professor Emeritus Kevin McDonald, suggest is that the high verbal intelligence that this crowd ascribes to Jews has actually made them a parasite that uses their intellect to manipulate Western men away from their ethnic interests.  Though the general line-up of AmRen is certainly prone to conspiracy theories, this is a step too far for Taylor.

The focus on pseudoscience has really defined AmRen for almost two decades, yet in recent years there has been a shift.  Over the last few renditions of the conference, all of which have been at the Montgomery Bell State Park outside of Nashville, they have shifted away from arguments about racial difference in biology and more in the direction of politics and culture.  They have included many speakers from nationalist parties internationally, as well as many from the Alt Right that talk in vague platitudes in an attempt to revive racial Idealism and Romanticism.  This change is largely because they did not see the resurgence in “white racial consciousness” that they were hoping for from their previous discourse about perceived racial difference.  Taylor has been a bit slow off the mark, and because of the new focus on social media and streaming content, as well as the lower brow focus of modern post-Trump Alt Right, he has been the old man of the community.  While others are trying to maximize this Trump moment, Taylor continues to drivel on about black crime with barely-coded insults to movements like Black Lives Matter.

The coming 2016 conference, which will be held on May 20-22(which is actually longer than most AmRen conferences), replicates this new trend in their programming, as well as returning to attempts at respectability.  Similar to what you see in white nationalist conferences and organizations like the H.L. Mencken Club and the Council of Conservative Citizens, they always try to host speakers who are just on the edge of respectability.  This was the case with people like the late Sam Francis and Joe Sobran, who were both on the edges of the beltway Conservative Movement.

The 2016 conference’s “headliner,” so to speak, is Peter Brimelow, who is exactly the kind of crossover point that AmRen uses to make itself relevant.  Brimelow was a former writer for Forbes and a number of conservative publications, really known for writing about education and the “problem” of the teacher’s unions up through the 1990s.  In 1995 he published his “magnum opus,” Alien Nation, a book that rallied against immigration and the need to tighten the borders.  Brimelow himself was foreign born, a British immigrant, a point that is often lost on his supporters.  He then founded the web publication VDare, which has become a meeting point for the far right who want to focus on immigration as their primary issue.  He has slowly shifted out of the broad GOP crowd and into a racially focused community, speaking at other racist conferences like the H.L. Mencken Club and the National Policy Institute.  His talk brings the conference back to one of their real forces of excitement: Donald Trump.  Titled “The Trump Tsunami and the Future of the Historic American Nation,” Brimelow will continue the fawning appreciation for the billionaire just as most in the AmRen scene have.  Jared Taylor recently voiced a robocall for Trump support in Iowa, funded by the neo-fascist American Freedom Party.

James Edwards is also on the line-up, a person who has not been as prominent over the last year or so of the growing white nationalist movement.  He hosts the Political Cesspool, a white nationalist/populist radio show that is actually on a few AM stations beyond its large internet following.  He is on the board for both the Council of Conservative Citizens and the American Freedom Party, and he spoke up in defense of the CofCC after the Dylan Roof shooting.  The murderer mentioned the CofCC’s website, which obsessively focuses on what they falsely say are differences in black and white crime rates.  He represents a lower-brow sensibility for the AmRen community, which is really summed up by his book Racism Schmacism.  

Flemish nationalist Filip Dewinter will rant about the “Islamisation” of Europe, Ruuben Kaalep will give a plea for Estonian nationalist, and Dan Roodt will talk about “white survival” in post-Apartheid South Africa.  This is part and parcel of the new AmRen: trying to create unity between white racist internationally.  Here they often try to find common cause with white nationalist talking points in Europe, focusing largely on Syrian refugees and Islamic immigration.

RamZPaul will join the AmRen crowd, which he has in recent years, where he does a sort of “stand up routine.”  This mainly consists of awkwardly timed jokes coming straight out of his popular YouTube videos.  His comedic style is telling and has helped groups like The Right Stuff to focus on humor in their racism.  He will discuss the Alt Right, which has been seeing a surge of media attention in recent months because of the entryism that Donald Trump has provided for them.  This theme will be compounded with the inclusion of Uncuck the Right, a new YouTube “sensation” who does racist parody songs in the vein of The Right Stuff.  “Uncuck” is a reference to the Cuckservative meme that the Alt Right recently popularized, referencing the idea that mainstream conservatives do not act in their own racial interests in terms of immigration.  This also really shows AmRen begging to keep themselves relevant in the internet-only “shitlord” movement of angry white men.

Both Taylor and Sam Dickson will be speaking about “identitarianism,” Dickson giving the same “Benediction for Heretics” that he has done every year since 1990s premiere of the conference.

MontgomeryBell
Montgomery Bell facility where AmRen 2016 will be held.

Over the last several years of the conference, protesters have always been present.  In 2010 the conference was effectively shut down when pressure was put on the Four Points Sheraton at the Manassas Battlefield to cancel their reservation.  The following year, he attempted to hold it in a secret location, yet when the location was revealed to be the Airport Sheraton organizers were successfully able to shut it down again.  This later inspired lawsuits from David Yeagley, a self-described “American Indian” who the One People’s Project have revealed is actually Italian and consorts with white nationalists.  He tried to sue, among others, Daryle Lamont Jenkins, but the suits were ultimately unsuccessful before Yeagley passed away.  Now the conference has been moved semi-permanently to Montgomery Bell State Park, a government run facility that has been less responsive to organizing.

In 2013 organizers again clashed with conference attendees, this time out in Nashville.  After the primary conference, attendees including the Traditional Youth’s Network’s Matthew Heimbach and Scott Terry, RamZPaul, and several people from the CofCC and the League of the South all headed to a local par where Antifa organizers were also present.  A scuffle ensued where anti-racist organizers ended up being forced out of the bar, and the staff allowed the fascist parties to stay.

For 2016, research is being done about the attendees and location, and you can expect that the opposition to this festival of white self-congratulation will not be able to continue unchallenged.  If you are in the area, this is going to be one of the prime places to confront the dangerous white nationalist movement.

 

Nationalists on Samhain: The National Policy Institute’s 2015 Conference and the Identitarian Lie

Sam Dickson, in the center, pointing.
Sam Dickson, in the center, pointing. “Anarchist” Keith Preston off to the far-right, as usual.

It may have seen a bit odd to see one of the biggest white nationalist intellectual events in the U.S. happening on Halloween, but there is a certain obviousness about it.  Samhain, as it was originally known, was a traditional holiday in pre-Christian Europe where it was said the fabric between the land of the living and the land of the dead was at its thinnest.  It was then a time to remember the ancestors, a tradition that made its way into the Christian churches that were built on top of the pagan past, and we see it with the establishment of later holidays like Old Hallow’s Eve before All Saints Day and the Dios De La Muertos celebrations in Latin American countries.  With the white nationalist fetishism of paganism under a their self-created concept of “meta-genetics,” there is a certain attraction for them to pontificate about the “threatened” white race in the name of the ancestors on a day like this.

The National Policy Institute’s 2015 conference took place at the Washington Press Club this past October 31st, hosting some of the biggest names in the organized racist community.  Richard Spencer, the President of NPI, celebrated this fact, referencing anti-racist posters featuring them as labeling them the “Superheroes of Hate,” and jokingly saying “Avengers Assemble” about their line-up.  The conference, as we wrote about during the run up to the actual event, featured a rainbow assortment of white nationalist paranoia.  The most featured speaker of the day, so it seemed, was Kevin McDonald, who has been working on a book on the “origins of the white man.”  He recently did a podcast episode for Radix Journal, Richard Spencer’s online publication, where they discussed the origins of the “Aryan” race.  Here they both indulged in elementary understandings of genetics and embarrassing overreaches about the importance of white racial in-groups.  McDonald himself expounded on the idea of developing moral structures, in-group cohesion, and what he calls “pathological altruism” that he alleges is both innate to white people and is destroying them by disallowing them to fight for their ethnic interests.  This essentializes whiteness in a way that is anti-scientific, as if having darker skin tones in a lineage changes that genetic history in any way.  Spencer and McDonald lament about the Goths, who were eventually absorbed into the Roman Empire, and they opine about this being the potential result of the “white man.”  McDonald, now a retired University of California Long Beach psychology professor, is best known for his academic anti-Semitism, where he developed a theory that Judaism is a “group evolutionary strategy” that Jews use to dominate Western societies for access to resources.  No one in evolutionary psychology proper agree with this notion, nor agree that there is some type of biological urge to fight for resources with people of different ethnic origins.  There is no evidence that we have some biological radar for people of similar ethnic origins that drive us towards allegiance.  That is simply not how genetics work, as anyone who has taken a high school science class should be able to discern.

We were also looking at Keith Preston, a former anarchist who likes to parade himself at nationalist gatherings in an effort to find some community as his support for racism has had him ousted from anywhere on the radical left.  At this conference he went on about the “Left’s worship of the State,” though his background should have informed his understanding of the anti-authoritarian and anarchist left’s actual association with the State.  What Keith really references here is the left’s association with anti-racist and egalitarian values, which he sees as being totalitarian in its monolithic nature.  This is an embarrassingly middle school interpretation of authoritarianism, and really lacks even the most basic ideas of where anarchism came from and what the tradition advocates at its core.  It was never anti-authoritarian for anti-authoritarian’s sake, but instead a revolutionary libertarian communist tradition, opposed to hierarchical oppression but never in favor of an “anything goes” politic of “pan-secessionism.”

Sam Dickson returned, a Southern lawyer who enjoys a life both as a Southern Nationalist and as a predatory land merchant who takes gleeful pleasure in making money on evicting black families.  After saying the much quoted line about “giving blacks Manhattan,” he went on to note that he wants a country for ALL white people.  “White people, as we’ve become a minority, will not be able to live in a state of severe repression and discrimination,” he said. “Our ethno-state will not be a meeting of the Tea Party; it’s not going to be the Southern Baptist Convention. It’s going to be a genuine ethno-state with Christians, Catholics, alcoholics, tee-totallers, gay people. It’s not going to be a subset of the right.”

The conference was well covered by a few media outlets, with Huffington Post, the Daily Beast, and Raw Story doing full pieces on it.  For this, Spencer arranged a press period, which was a sort of delusional show since there were only three journalists there.  A big question that was presented to the panel, which included Dickson and Spencer, was if Jews were white.  Spencer responded by saying “I think Jews are Jews.”  This was a good sound bite as people went on to make anti-Semitic remarks and jokes throughout the day with the laughing support of the crowd.  “The Jews exist precisely because they were apart,” said Spencer. “Precisely because they had a sense of apartness—perhaps you could say a little bit of paranoia, about trying to stay away. That’s a clear aspect of Jewish—”  At this point he stopped and realized that he was playing his anti-Semitism too straight, and then begged the reporters not to print his line about Jewish paranoia.  Spencer thinks of himself as having a very nuanced understanding of Jews, and he hates when he is quoted like some kind of vulgar anti-Semite, but his ideas are so in line with traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes that it is a mirage for him to believe he is any different from people like Kevin McDonald or David Duke.

The conference itself also stood apart from the traditional portrayal of the far-right in the United States as mainly Christian.  Instead, there was a strong push towards a kind of racial atheism and paganism, which is expressly noticeable by having the neo-folk band Changes performing in the evening.

One of the real set pieces of the day was the live podcast that they recorded as a discussion and Q&A with Spencer, two hosts from Sweden’s Red Ice Radio, and Mike Enoch from The Right Stuff and The Daily Shoah.  Enoch decided, for some reason, to wear aviators at the microphone as he thought that might confuse the anti-fascists who were in the room.  Though the rest of the information still continues to come out, some east coast antifa organizations have stated that they were still in the room at that point and have photos of the panel.  One person taking photos was forced out of the venue earlier in the day, which was a testament to the paranoia in the room.  Enoch is well-known for turning their “alt right” community into a bouquet of racial slurs, holocaust denial, fantasies about killing minorities and Jews, and generally being one of the more self-congratulation focused disgusting examples of the reality of “ethno-nationalism.”  It was in this podcast, but really across the neo-fascist movement in the U.S. over the last several months, you can see the influence of Enoch and The Daily Shoah.  The panel, who usually tries to couch their rhetoric in academic jargon, instead celebrated the “trolling” nature of their internet presence and state over and over again that this is a sign that “something is happening.”  They repeat this as if it is a mantra they really want to believe, and since they have no concept of organizing or movement building it must seem that using the n-word in a podcast under a pseudonym or creating the #cuckservative hashtag is the same thing as creating a revolutionary political movement.  Spencer himself banks on this idealism, the idea that if we change our minds we can change the world, instead of looking at the material realities of the world, which gives anti-fascists their greatest tool in combating their reactionary lies.

The conference offered a dramatically discounted rate from its original outrageous dollar amount(this is calculated to give it a posh appearance, which is why the conference is such a poor organizing tool) for millennials, which there were quite a few of.  They then used this to say that they are a young movement, but really it is simply that within the racist sphere the young professionals are more likely to attend their event than a Klan rally.  It is less that this is a new turn for millennials and more that any of them attracted to white nationalism are there, and their numbers are being vastly oversold.  Just as on the internet, the reactionaries love to over speak, and therefore appear more numerous than they actually are.  The questions during the Become Who We Are podcast panel were telling as few had any concept of political organizing or even how to communicate their ideas in anything approximating a cogent argument.  They did, however, find unity in making fun of the small protest outside, which, from the sound of it, was underorganized and did not have a good strategy for challenging the conference.  This has been a problem unique to the United States Antifa organizations, that fail to do long-term movement building or, in turn, actually physically confront anybody.  There needs to be choices made about how the action is meant to be effective, whether this means trying to interfere and shut down the event, or, on the other hand, to create a mass coalition to show the power of anti-racist unity in the face of regressive nationalism.

Jack Donovan’s appearance is again a strange addition to the group, but says more about what a fascist movement is really composed of more than anything else.  Donovan is known as a sort of “anti-gay” gay writer, a person who coined the term “andriophile” to identify queer men who do not want to identify with what he see’s as an effeminate gay identity.  In recent years he focuses on “male tribalism,” is a certain radical wing of the Men’s Rights Movement, and writes about tribal bands dissociating themselves with the larger society and State.  In his “Rules for Barbarians,” he focused on things like not caring about the fate of out-group peoples.  This ties into work he has been writing for a long time, including last-year’s article “I Don’t Care” over at Radix Journal.  Donovan, beyond being deeply misogynist and an advocate of brutal hierarchical violence, is much more wishy-washy when it comes to race.  In his article “Why I Support White Nationalism,” he expresses a tacit support for the racialist movement since they are essentially men who want to create their own tribalist society with an in-group and out-group.  In his recent article and podcast on the Wolves of Vinland, a folkish Asatru group modeled on a motorcycle gang, it seemed apparent that he was interested in joining.  He then wrote a review of “What is a Rune?” by white nationalist Heathen Colin Clear for Counter-Currents, which shows a move in favor of identitarian paganism.  Even though his talk did not reference race much, he spoke at the Human BioDiversity obsessed American Renaissance last year.  All of this indicates a drift towards white identity for Donovan, though the movement will likely only take him in at an arm’s length distance because of his homosexuality.  Mike Enoch really enjoys making gay jokes about him, but Enoch really just loves any time when he can use queer sexuality to degrade people.

The conference had a reported 175 attendants, which may seem like a lot except considering that there really are not a huge catalogue of similar events.  For years NPI has lead a faction of the “alt right” that focused on a pseudo-spiritual and academic discourse in favor of ethnic nationalism, but here we are seeing a shift away from neutral coded language and a more open support of traditional racism and Jew-blaming.  Spencer is now calling for the need for a whites-only “European empire,” which he alleges is a part of the white “Faustian nature.”  When discussing his hometown issue when a group of White Fish, Montana residents got together to stand against his racism, he mentioned how he thought to himself, “What would a Jew do?”  The crowd laughed and clapped with glee, and he went on about how he can use his superior logic to turn things around on them.  This is all good rhetoric, but the movement he is a part of is composed mainly of double-speak, angry racist rants about pop culture(the humiliating boycott of the new Star Wars is prime example), and the lack of even basic understanding of how to create a movement that can transform anything is what leaves them behind.

This does not, however, meant that they are no longer a threat.  There is still a huge growth happening here, crossovers in the form of Donald Trump’s campaign and the fringe movements like Neoreaction and the Dark Enlightenment, and their effort to co-opt “radicalism” and “dissent.”  To really confront NPI and the growing faction of pseudo-intellectual revolutionary nationalists, there needs to be an anti-fascist movement that does what the far-right was never able to do: to build a movement.  Anti-fascist and anti-racists will have to destroy the narrative that nationalists are building, which is easy to do since reality and public opinion really are on our side.  Sticking to the Antifa idea of “no platform” is critical, and that does not mean shooting silly-string onto NPI conference attendents, but not allowing them to have a public voice.

The White Nationalist H.L. Mencken Club Coming to Baltimore

friday_night_banquet_-_med

Many people have been focusing on the upcoming National Policy Institute conference as this makes up much of the intellectual core of the white nationalist movement in the United States.  NPI, which is run by Richard Spencer, has brought together some of the most popular pseudo-intellectuals and fringe speakers to pull at their central theme, “The Identity and Spirit of Our People.”  This theme is almost identical to all of their other ones, yet it seems like the veneer of respectability they crafted so thoroughly is slipping a little more every year.  That mirage of academia is, however, still very much in tact for the H.L. Mencken Club.

This conference is not one that you will likely have heard about as it is even more insular than the NPI yearly conference, but it attracts largely the same crowd.  Before Richard Spencer went on to take over NPI and start its regular conference, he was still busy editing the pan-far-right Alternative Right website.  During this period he was involved with the H.L. Mencken Club, which brings together academic reactionaries from around the world.  In years past, the Club hosted speakers on a range of subjects like why entering WWII was a disaster, why we need to reclaim a “WASP elite,” and the importance of eugenics.  Like NPI, there tends to be a common acceptance of scientific racist notions like Human Biological Diversity and the need for white identity, yet they have worked hard to continue to serve a very particular audience.

Pat Buchanan(left), Paul Gottfried(center), and Richard Spencer(right), at a previous H.L. Mencken Club conference.
Pat Buchanan(left), Paul Gottfried(center), and Richard Spencer(right), at a previous H.L. Mencken Club conference.

The concept of the H.L. Mencken Club may seem even too fringe for their movement as their ranks are not made up of PhD’s ready to publish papers on 19th century biohistory.  This really is not the point, however, as what they are looking for is to reclaim an intellectual tradition that lends the far-right the same sense of legitimacy as many academic left ideas have.  To do this, the H.L. Mencken Club really prides itself on its elitism, though you will notice if you look through its ranks and speeches that it is a stretch to say that there is the same intellectual depth here that you would find at most academic conferences.  There simply is not the same philosophical and critical background for this narrow range of racist ideas as they would like, so they are going to at least try to build the veneer of it.  The conference itself requires that “Gentlemen wear suits and ties,” a point that highlights how silly this charade is.

The conference is largely organized by Paul Gottfried, who was best associated with Paleoconservatism in the 1980s until he was generally ousted from the mainstream conservative movement for his ideas on racial differences in intelligence.  He continued to publish regularly and associate with the fringes of the right, and often is there welcoming fellow racists who are finally exposed in their Republican strongholds.  People like Robert Weissberg, John Derbyshire, Peter Brimelow, and Pat Buchanan, have all been ushered in the Club when being kicked out of their regular movement gigs at places like National Review.  In the past, Richard Spencer has given talks on right-wing elites of the past, a defense of “decadence,” and the need for mixing conservationism with eugenics and racial nationalism.

Robert Weissberg
Robert Weissberg

When looking at this year’s line-up, there is a clear sign that a certain core of white nationalist intellectuals are still trying to maintain relevance.  Gottfried will be hosting a panel called “Elitism and Politics” that will feature Bob Weissberg, who people will know as one of the few Jewish speakers at American Renaissance conferences, and will likely try to work in some discussion of race and IQ.  Weissberg has made a name for himself in white nationalist circles for his Darwinist language about racial minorities, accusing African American of everything from having sub-normal intelligence to being genetically prone towards violence.  Next, anti-immigration fanatic Peter Brimelow(who, ironically, is an immigrant), the founder of the racist website VDare, will continue the conference’s theme of elitism by looking at it within a socio-economic context.  We will also be seeing Keith Preston, who is speaking at the National Policy Institute just a week prior, and will be here with one of the most bland and innocuous titles possible: “The Alliance of Transnational Capitalism and the Managerial Therapeutic State.”  We recently published a blog confronting Preston’s claims that he is still an anarchist, but his direct support of fascist politics and organized racists exposes him very clearly.

The conference is certain to draw many of the same constituents as the National Policy Institute, but its proximity to the NPI conference and the fact that Richard Spencer is no longer involved may suggest a rift between the two forming.  The “white unity” that Spencer often calls for seems almost impossible in the white nationalist subculture, which is mainly made up of infighting and internet raving.

Now that Paul Gottfried left his teaching position at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, where his tenured position insulated him from blow back of his support for fascist politics.  The Mencken Club was always his pet project, and he took it from a more generic right-wing philosophy conference to the insular and openly racialist project it is today.  Because of certain “far-right celebrities” like Peter Brimelow on the panels, it may be able to drum up the opposition it deserves.  In previous years, organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League could not quite agree if the Club was a “hate group,” but at this point the Club has made itself an out-of-the-closet organization for the racialized radical right.  Part of this indecision comes from the level of academic discourse that hides the rhetoric, and the quiet face of Paul Gottfried, now in his mid 70s, is a part as well.

Their 2015 conference is specifically about a call for a new “elite,” racially, politically, socially, and economically.  This is a call to specify a new “aristocracy;” a rule class that was not elected and is enforced through structural inequality.  “Race realists” make up both the panelists and the audience, so it is clear who the “elite” is they hope to arrive.  It is up to Anti-Fascists and anti-racist organizers to challenge the H.L. Mencken Club and to shake up their pseudo-academic festival of white self-congradulation in a way that they never would have expected.  Further alienate people like Gottfried and Weissberg, disallow them to hide their fascist new-vision under academic double speak, and use this as a rallying point to build a mass movement against the creeping fascism that is coming from fear and crisis in the west.  Academia has always been a place that they fight a battle over ideas, and we have the ability to stop their attempts to reverse racial progress.

The Mencken Club seems to know that their presence is rarely welcome in communities, so, while they are posting that you can get a group rate deal on hotels where they are hosting it, they have yet to post the details about exactly where the conference is.  They also note on their website that “The H.L. Mencken Club reserves the right to withdraw or deny admission to anyone who seeks to disrupt the conference or whose presence is deemed a nuisance.”  We will be waiting to see the rest of the specifics for the conference and share them widely, so until then a flying squad can be organized that can head to the location when it is made available.  There meetings have been in Baltimore, and it looks like this is not going to change, so expect it to be in the more upper class area of the city, a short drive away from Washington D.C.