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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from WashingtonSpectator.


Prior to the 2016 presidential election, I would bet that most people shared my mental image of the modern-day neo-Nazi movement: a hodgepodge of tatted-up skinheads, gun-toting militiamen, hooded Ku Klux Klan members, and miscellaneous bloodthirsty Turner Diaries cosplayers. While those people still exist, an offshoot of the movement—which calls itself the alternative right, or alt-right for short—has disguised itself in urban chic.

Now, the hardcore reactionaries I’ve met more closely resemble Mike Peinovich—or Mike Enoch, as he’s known in far-right circles—the chubby, preppy, thirty-something founder of white nationalist website The Right Stuff and co-host of the Daily Shoah podcast.

On a recent April day, Enoch, a New York City–based web developer, stood outside of the White House among dozens of like-minded white nationalists. He’d come to the city to help lead a right-wing “anti-war” rally against Trump’s recent action in Syria. Dressed in a WASP-y vest and gingham shirt with his sunglasses perched on his head, Enoch blended in nicely with the youthful fascists who have become ubiquitous in the bizarro world of Trumpland. Like many other millennials of his ideology, Enoch began as a conservative libertarian before finding his way to white nationalism. By Enoch’s account, he’s also a card-carrying pacifist. “I have been anti-war my whole political life,” he told me. “It’s the thing that got me interested in politics, when the Iraq War was starting, the opposition to George W. Bush’s war.”

He was joined by another libertarian-turned-alt-right-leader, National Policy Institute director and handsome boy of the far right, Richard Spencer. Spencer gained notoriety by riding the coattails of the Trump movement, but the honeymoon has apparently ended. Spencer led chants for most of the rally, while one of his websites,, co-sponsored the protest with The Right Stuff.

As I talked with Enoch, about two dozen young men with neatly trimmed Hitler Youth–style haircuts, red “Make America Great Again” hats, and signs featuring Trump’s old tweets about Syria began chanting at a crowd of antifa (or anti-fascist) protesters. Enoch had become visibly annoyed with the proceedings. He wasn’t here to clash with leftists—he was here to get the White House’s attention and show his opposition to “neoconservative wars … wars for Israel, and … Jewish control of United States foreign policy.”

The “Jewish question,” as they refer to it (a phrase with direct Nazi roots), was a common theme among the other alt-right demonstrators I spoke with that day, though it wasn’t exactly clear why. Many believed that the air strikes came due to pressure from “the Israel lobby” and unnamed “neoconservatives.” (Kevin MacDonald, one of the alt-right’s most influential intellectuals, argues that neoconservatism is a “Jewish movement” meant to protect and benefit Jews at the expense of other groups.) Other protesters vaguely cast blame on Jared Kushner, Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, who is Jewish. Neo-Nazis in America are used to not getting what they want, but they expected better from Trump.

Support for Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad—whose forces have been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of his own people in the Syrian civil war—was strong, too. Speaking at the rally, Spencer implored Trump to pursue peaceful relations with Assad, whom he called “the rightful leader of Syria” and lauded as “a secular person, a person of strength and stability.” Assad “might not be perfect,” Spencer admitted, “but the world isn’t perfect.”

Despite their stated distaste for foreign interventions, alt-right figures like Enoch and Spencer are about as “anti-war” as the countless other authoritarian-minded anti-interventionists before them. From the John Birch Society during Vietnam, to the Buchananites during Iraq, to Trump, the man who just stabbed Enoch, Spencer, and their pasty followers in the collective back, the far-right’s embrace of anti-war rhetoric has remained a constant. But even though the Trump administration may have fallen out of favor with its adoring alt-right followers, the two groups have a great deal in common—including their use of “anti-war” as a sales pitch rather than a principle.

Neo-Nazis in America are used to not getting what they want, but they expected better from Trump. As excited as they were about their “God Emperor,” Trump now seems to be offering them steady lip service and unsteady leadership. Although numerous white nationalist leaders made it clear early on that they knew Trump didn’t have all of their interests at heart, most protest participants apparently hadn’t connected the dots during his campaign, which would explain why they felt betrayed by a man whose career was built on screwing people over. Indeed, several protesters cited Trump’s long-standing opposition to intervention, an issue on which he was “unwavering” and consistently “toting the line,” in the words of Raph, a thin, pale sign-holder at the rally.

Enoch was inclined to agree. “He never contradicted himself on Syria,” he told me. “Sure, he was all over the place on a lot of things…. But we have our agenda. This is a thing he said he wouldn’t do, and we supported him, and he stabbed us in the back.”

Spencer, too, was at his wit’s end over Trump’s flip-flop on the war. In an episode of The Daily Shoah recorded shortly after the protest, the Neo-Nazi leader emphasized that “This is so important—we’re not talking about immigration, we’re not talking about tax cuts or Neil Gorsuch.”

“I can’t look at a Trump meme anymore,” Spencer despaired to his comrades.

Depressed as Spencer and Enoch may be, Trump’s reversal plays perfectly into the hands of alt-right proselytizers, whose ranks are packed with the angry and disenchanted. What better proof of conspiracy than man-of-the-people Trump being coaxed into a war by his Jewish son-in-law?

Though Enoch only mentioned “Jewish control” of the body politic once, several signs proclaimed sentiments like, “We want walls not wars #FireKushner”; “Oy vey Jared! The Goyim know!”; and “>America First >Israel First Pick One,” with a crossed-out star of David.

One protester named Edward—who was clutching a sign proclaiming da goyim know—informed me that the alt-right’s “skepticism” of Judaism was only rational. “They have a dual morality system,” he told me. “They think that Jews have one morality, and they practice a morality for them, and non-Jews, they practice a separate morality for them.”

Although Enoch and other alt-righters aren’t ashamed of airing their anti-Semitism more provocatively—especially for closed-minded liberals like me—they have made some effort to hide its more repellent expressions when trying to woo conservatives. A clear example of this came when Spencer was filmed declaring “Heil Trump” and exchanging Nazi salutes at a conference last November. He tried to downplay the speech as “ironic” and now jokingly refers to the subsequent outcry as “Heilgate.”

To many alt-right leaders, the process of “red pilling” the masses begins by getting “normies” to start thinking seriously about “the Jewish question.” Translated from alt-right speak: Preparing average conservatives for radicalization starts with getting them to see Jews as manipulative, disproportionately powerful, and inherently untrustworthy. As alt-right agitator Eli Mosley told Enoch and his co-host, Jesse Dunstan, on a recent episode of The Daily Shoah, he frequently approaches conservatives at Trump rallies hoping to nudge them into the alt-right.

At one rally in Philadelphia, Mosley and others steered the crowd into chants of “Open borders for Israel!” when confronted by a group of antifa, and yelled “Are you a Jew? You must be a Jew!” at counter-protesters. When a “normie” Trump supporter asked Mosley why Jews would be opposing Christians, he carefully explained the difference between ethnic and religious Jews, then pointed her in the direction of Marching to Zion, a conspiratorial Christian documentary on the history of Judaism. Mosley also handed out “red pill cards” with a list of alt-right websites like The Right Stuff. Whether such discussions happen to be effective is unclear, but many alt-righters see them as a key part of their expansion strategy.

Despite the warm reception Trump’s Syria strikes received among many mainstream pundits, the alt-right’s loose coalition has remained steadfast in its opposition to more war.

Well, at least this war. “I can’t look at a Trump meme anymore,” Spencer despaired.

In early March, Enoch’s Right Stuff blog published an article by a pseudonymous author, “Padishah Emperor Julius Ebola”—a play on the name of the late Italian far-right philosopher Julius Evola. Rather than embrace the notion of an anti-interventionist white ethno-state with closed borders—which is what Spencer and many of his followers advocate—the author lambasted the notion that such an Aryan paradise could exist peacefully with other ethnically homogenous states.

“A foreign policy based on mutual assurances of noninterference or nonaggression is rooted in weakness and built to be destroyed,” our “King Emperor” asserted. “Secession from the [international] System is never an option. It demands an all-or-nothing mindset, because either it survives or the Aryan State survives.”

In other words, he concluded, borrowing that old Latin adage: “Si vis pacem, para bellum,” or, “If you want peace, prepare for war.”

As his Right Stuff essays show, Ebola has worked tirelessly to flesh out a white nationalist foreign policy. In one, he proposes the formation of a “Golden Axis,” an initiative that would encourage a hypothetical Aryan state to spread its dominion over the entirety of the Americas. Like most alt-righters, Ebola is obsessed with viewing conflicts through the lens of civilizational clashes. In a recent post, he framed the civil war in Syria as a battle between “Eurasia” (Russia, its allies, and client states) and “Zion” (the United States, Western Europe, and Israel), hinting at why many on the alt-right think intervention in Syria equates to going to war for Israel:

Zion is overtly anti-Aryan, whereas Eurasia is more oblique. Zion is the perpetrator of global White genocide and represents the combined power of the international Jew whether in Israel, America, Europe or elsewhere.

Apparently haircuts aren’t the only thing that Nazis haven’t changed in the last 70 years. Although today’s alt-right borrows terminology from a variety of sources—including an eclectic mix of European far-right philosophers, Russian nationalist theorists, and good ol’ fashioned American racists—its vision of the future continues to rely on Hitler’s obsession with an eternal, animalistic, and—more importantly—violent struggle among the races.

Consider yet another Ebola article, “Manifest Destiny Means Lebensraum,” in which he glorifies American frontier settlers and bemoans their negative treatment in the history books. “The most central aspect of American history,” he writes, “is … the expansion of the Aryan race in the New World from a beachhead to a transcontinental empire.”

“A vast land was cleared with the hatchet and the rifle,” Ebola rejoices, “as the men of the stone age were beaten back by men of blood and iron.”

As historian Timothy Snyder has pointed out, Hitler himself paralleled the American idea of “manifest destiny” with his own philosophy, wherein the conquest of Eastern Europe was a natural expansion for the German people to find Lebensraum (“living space”). “Germany would deal with the Slavs much as the North Americans had dealt with the Indians,” Snyder writes in Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin: “The Volga River in Russia, [Hitler] once proclaimed, will be Germany’s Mississippi.”

If the alt-right were remotely anti-war, its members would be making a point to articulate their moral opposition to violence. Instead, its prescriptions—from the “peaceful ethnic cleansing” that Spencer promises, to The Right Stuff’s pining for settler colonialism—are both inherently cruel and destructive. And though the alt-right may be presenting itself as an ally of anti-war activists on both the left and the right, these efforts are fooling no one. No anti-war activists worth their salt would support a candidate like Trump, who mused about using nuclear weapons on ISIS and flaunted his desire to “bomb the shit out of ’em.” So it’s no wonder alt-right leaders mostly shrugged when U.S. forces dropped the “Mother of All Bombs” on Afghanistan just days after striking Syria.

But these contradictions are inherent in the alt-right ideology. They worship violence while portraying themselves as devoutly anti-war; they condemn U.S. interventions as neoconservative regime change, but would have no qualms reshaping their world in their own vision. It is the ultimate “have your cake and eat it, too” movement, advocating cruel and backward ideas while demanding to be taken seriously in the public square. But in the end, regardless of the alt-right’s highbrow pretensions, the tenets of their “anti-war” movement are little more than Mein Kampf written in the voice of The Economist.


Trip Brennan is a writer living in Washington, D.C.



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  • 1.Why did Trump choose to hide certain specific files and not others at Mar-a-Lago? What were the criteria that Trump used to keep some files concealed and not others? Who selected those files? Did Trump consult or direct anyone in his selection of secret files? Trump was notorious for being too impatient to read his briefing papers, even after they had been drastically shortened and simplified. Is there the slightest evidence that he spirited these papers away so that he could consult or study them? Who besides Trump knew of the presence of the files he had concealed at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 2. Mar-a-Lago has an infamous reputation for being open to penetration even by foreign spies. In 2019, the FBI arrested a Chinese woman who had entered the property with electronic devices. She was convicted of trespassing, lying to the Secret Service, and sentenced and served eight-months in a federal prison, before being deported to China. Have other individuals with possible links to foreign intelligence operations been present at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 3. Did members of Trump's Secret Service detail have knowledge of his secret storage of the files at Mar-a-Lago? What was the relationship of the Secret Service detail to the FBI? Did the Secret Service, or any agent, disclose information about the files to the FBI?
  • 4. Trump's designated representatives to the National Archives are Kash Patel and John Solomon, co-conspirators in the investigations into Russian interference in the presidential election of 2016, the Ukraine missiles-for-political dirt scandal that led to the first impeachment in 2019, and the coup of 2020. Neither has any professional background in handling archival materials. Patel, a die-hard Trump loyalist whose last job in the administration was as chief of staff to the Acting Secretary of Defense, was supposedly involved in Trump’s “declassification” of some files. Patel has stated, “Trump declassified whole sets of materials in anticipation of leaving government that he thought the American public should have the right to read themselves."
  • The White House counsel failed to generate the paperwork to change the classification markings, but that doesn’t mean the information wasn’t declassified.” If Pat Cipollone, the White House legal counsel, did not “generate the paperwork,” was he or anyone on his staff aware at all of the declassifications? The White House Staff Secretary Derek Lyons resigned his post in December 2020. Did his successor, who held the position for a month, while Trump was consumed with plotting his coup, ever review the material found in Trump’s concealed files for declassification? Or did Patel review the material? Can Patel name any individual who properly reviewed the supposed declassification?
  • 5. Why did Trump keep his pardon of Roger Stone among his secret files? Was it somehow to maintain leverage over Stone? What would that leverage be? Would it involve Stone's role as a conduit with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers during the coup? Or is there another pardon in Trump’s files for Stone, a secret pardon for his activities in the January 6th insurrection? Because of the sweeping nature of the pardon clause, pardons can remain undisclosed (until needed). Pardons are self-executing, require no justification and are not subject to court review beyond the fact of their timely execution. In other words, a court may verify the pardon was valid in time but has no power to review appropriateness. A pardon could even be oral but would need to be verifiable by a witness. Do the files contain secret pardons for Trump himself, members of his family, members of the Congress, and other co-conspirators?
  • 6.Was the FBI warrant obtained to block the imminent circulation or sale of information in the files to foreign powers? Does the affidavit of the informant at Mar-a-Lago, which has not been released, provide information about Trump’s monetization that required urgency in executing the warrant? Did Trump monetize information in any of the files? How? With whom? Any foreign power or entity? Was the Saudi payment from its sovereign wealth fund for the LIV Golf Tournament at Trump’s Bedminster Golf Club for a service that Trump rendered, an exchange of anything of value or information that was in the files? If it involved information in the files was it about nuclear programs? Was it about the nuclear program of Israel? How much exactly was the Saudi payment for the golf tournament? The Saudi sovereign wealth fund gave Jared Kushner and former Trump Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin $2 billion for their startup hedge fund, Affinity Partners. Do the Saudis regard that investment as partial payment for Trump’s transfer of nuclear information? Were Kushner or Mnuchin aware of the secret files at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 7.Did Trump destroy any of the files? If so, when? Did those files contain incriminating information? Did he destroy any files after he received the June subpoena?
  • 8.Were any of the secrets of our allies compromised? Has the U.S. government provided an inventory of breaches or potential breaches to our allies?
  • 9.Does the resort maintain a copying machine near the classified documents that Trump hid? Were any of the documents copied or scanned? Are Trump’s documents at Mar-a-Lago originals or copies? Were any copies shown or given to anyone?
  • 10.Trump’s lawyer Christina Bobb has revealed that a video surveillance system covers the places where Trump hid the files at Mar-a-Lago, and that the system is connected to a system at his other residences at the Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey and Trump Tower in New York City. According to Bobb, Trump and members of his family observed the FBI search and seizure of his files at Mar-a-Lago, “actually able to see the whole thing” through their surveillance system. Who has that surveillance system recorded entering the rooms where the files were kept?

Kevin Bacon, right, in "The Following"

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The Following, a 2013 Fox Pictures series, played out in similar fashion. Three seasons was enough for the producers and it’s been nine years since our introduction to Joe Carroll, English professor-novelist-serial killer, so there’s a spoiler risk -- but not enough to prevent the comparison.

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