“Late the night before the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, Richard Spencer, the de facto leader of the white nationalist movement calling itself the Alt-Right, texts me to say he’ll be there – not to disrupt, he insists, but to ask questions after the “Anti-Alt-Right speeches on [the] main stage.” The next day, at the Gaylord Convention Center just outside of Washington, D.C., there is no Q&A, but Spencer, who gleefully attracts a throng of reporters everywhere he goes, holds forth outside the hotel ballroom. Dan Schneider, the executive director of the American Conservative Union, which hosts the conference, has just decried the Alt-Right as a “sinister organization that is trying to worm its way into our ranks.” Spencer denounces the speech as “stupid” and “pathetic.”
Inside the ballroom, four Republican governors are speaking about how they are “reclaiming America’s promise,” something reporters might have covered in years past to glean glimmers of presidential ambitions. But Trump – and his success at electrifying the Alt-Right – has changed all that. Instead, dozens of reporters cluster around Spencer, who most recently made headlines for eliciting Nazi salutes at a conference he hosted in November, and becoming the butt of a meme about whether it is acceptable to punch Nazis…”
If I were in that room, I would have fallen asleep listening to Scott Walker’s boilerplate. Conservatism is an antiquated ideology. I imagine it must have been exciting when National Review‘s audience was in their 30s and 40s. I was born in 1980 and only vaguely remember the Gipper. The reporters were correct to interview Richard Spencer. Who is interested in a story about movement conservatism?
“Spencer’s swift removal brought more attention to a presentation by a member of the ACU leadership Thursday morning that targeted the alt-right. During the event’s first speech, ACU Executive Director Dan Schneider sought to place the alt-right outside the bounds of acceptable GOP politics. …
“Dan Schneider has a small and closed mind,” Spencer told a group of reporters huddled outside the main event. “He didn’t even do basic research on what the alt-right is and he denounced it. That’s pretty pathetic. …”
As a Millennial attendee at CPAC said, Dan Schneider came across sounding like the school principal. The speech likely had the opposite effect. When you tell a crowd that there is a “sinister” force of politically incorrect rebels out there looking to corrupt movement conservatism, and it is hard to imagine a more boring group of people in politics, it only encourages more young people to check us out.
“NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.—On Thursday, white nationalist Richard Spencer was thrown out of the Conservative Political Action Conference. As security escorted him to the door, a college junior in a blue blazer and fashy haircut followed him. “I’m representing the alt-right club at Penn State,” said James O’Mailia, who then invited Spencer to come and speak. “Please come!” he said. “We’ll host you and everything …
Schneider referred specifically to the conference in November where Spencer, standing before a giddy crowd of clean-cut racists, gave a Nazi salute and said, “Heil Trump, heil our people, heil victory!” Schneider’s argument was similar to the one Jonah Goldberg made in his risible book Liberal Fascism: Fascists are inherently left-wing because they believe in government power. (Apparently this is true even when they’re hailing the government power to crush the left.) “Hateful left-wing fascists are not like anybody here,” Schneider said.
Even if you accept his absurd framing, what he said was wrong. Spencer himself—who, far from hijacking the term alt-right, actually coined it—was there watching from a seat near the stage. And it was clear that there were fellow travelers in the crowd. “There are lots of people here that I know,” Spencer told me after Schneider’s speech. Soon he was mobbed by journalists as well as by eager young conference goers who wanted to pose with him for selfies. One young man called out “Praise Kek!”—an alt-right in-joke. A guy named J.P. Sheehan pulled a T-shirt saying RADIX—the name of Spencer’s online journal—out of his bag, happily flashing it toward Spencer. “I know a lot of people are afraid of him, but Richard Spencer is like, the coolest guy,” he said. …”
Michelle Goldberg at Slate is averse to how dumb these people are who are the “mainstream” of movement conservatism. She gets in a jab at Jonah Goldberg, a scholar of fascism, who writes for National Review.