But all this changes in light of facts. Those facts came to us some weeks ago courtesy of the Center for Investigative Reporting in partnership with Mother Jones. And here are the facts:
Richard Spencer lives on his family’s fortune. That wealth in part comes from owning, for generations, huge tracts of land used in growing cotton. That cotton is subsidized, like many farming operations, to maintain prices by the federal government.
Moreover, Spencer dropped out of graduate school and does not appear to have held down a real job before founding his “think tank.” No one knows where he got the money to found it. The National Policy Institute has lost its tax-exempt status.
What do we make of these facts?
For one thing, it’s hard to maintain the veneer of strength and purity when you are vulnerable to accusations of being a mama’s boy. (His parents are evidently mainstream Republican who dislike their son’s embrace of fascism, but not enough, apparently, to cut him off.)
For another, it’s hard to maintain an image of authenticity as the one true voice of an oppressed white people when your money comes from mommy and daddy, instead of a deep pool of contributors who might nominally represent a truly democratic yearning. White nationalism ends up taking a back seat to his carefully constructed image and in doing so risks revealing Spencer as being a fraud.
He’s vulnerable not only to attacks from the left.
Recall that former presidential candidate Mitt Romney and the Republicans gained a lot of traction some years ago by framing the country’s future as a choice between “takers and makers.” In Spencer is a man who never had a real job, who failed to complete his education, who lives on his parent’s bank account. He’s the idle rich to the left. He’s a parasite to the right’s captains of industry.
White nationalism remains a threat. I don’t have to explain why. But democracy can survive it as long as democracy has a free press, free speech and the political courage of an informed citizenry.