NPR interviews a white supremacist

  1. Listen ‘We’re Not Going Away’: Alt-Right Leader On Voice In Trump Administration

    November 17, 2016

We can pretty well guess what NPR ombudsman Elizabeth Jensen‘s next column is going to be about. It’s going to be about whether NPR should have given seven minutes of national radio time on Thursday evening to Richard Spencer, a white nationalist who coined the term “alt-right”.

That the term, which many believe is meant to be a nicer term than racist, is getting more use in the media, shows the impact Spencer already has had on the national landscape.

Spencer isn’t shy about sharing his vision: a white ethno-state, a “safe space for Europeans,” he says.

“Should only white Europeans be considered U.S. citizens?” host Kelly McEvers asked.

“The citizenship… is not something that can be changed,” Spencer said, before adding “right away.”

Spencer says different races and ethnicities simply cannot get along.

“Do we really like each other? Do we really love each other? Do we really have a sense of community on that subway car…”

“Or a cul-de-sac, or a kindergarten,” McEvers interjected.

“Whenever different races are in the same school, there’ll be a natural segregation at lunchtime, at PE, in terms of after-school play,” he responded.

Spencer said a friendlier relationship with Russia would foster his goals, and he insisted that illegal immigration isn’t “nearly as damaging as legal immigration.”

“With legal immigration, they’re here to stay,” he said. “I think a reasonable and palatable policy proposal would be for Donald Trump to say, ‘Look, we’ve had immigration in the past, it’s brought some fragmentation, but we need to become a people again, and for us to do that, we’re going to need a break from mass immigration. We’re going to need to preference people who are going to fit in, who are more like us, that is European immigration.”

McEvers read a list of items, asking Spencer if he thought they were OK or not OK.

“Graffiti saying ‘Make America White Again‘?” she started.

“Graffiti is illegal,” Spencer responded.

Pushed by McEvers, Spencer said he “doesn’t have a huge problem with that.”


“It’s an ancient symbol,” Spencer said. “If you’re asking me do I have a problem with people expressing themselves, they could do whatever they want.”

“Wearing white robes or hoods?”

Spencer pushed back, saying “you haven’t given me anything that is either fundamentally illegal or immoral. I’m not going to condemn any of that.”


“Not a fan,” Spencer said, acknowledging he likes Republican voters. “In terms of operatives, in terms of the conservative movement, not a fan.”

Spencer says he’s not been in contact with the incoming administration, though he thinks he can have influence on coming policies.

  • Jerry

    I can’t say he is the worst person in the world, but he is in the running.

  • Ryn

    I heard this on the radio and it made me feel a little sick to my stomach. I am contacting my senators and urging them to block Trump appointments that come from the alt-right camp.

    • Melissa

      I agree. Made me feel sick.

      • Paul Long

        I was appalled. Not only at the guy’s words, but that NPR gave him a forum to spread his hatred and bigotry.

    • Rob

      Same suggestion as above. The alt-right camp is white supremacists, so let’s refer to them as such.

      • JamieHX

        Keep saying it, Bob H. This is one of those terms that right-wingers devise in order to market certain ideas. “Right-to-work” is another one. They disguise the real meaning, sometimes even saying the exact opposite of the idea they’re labeling. They’re very good at it. The terms get into the daily lexicon of not just the news media, but of even careless or clueless left-wing political operatives.

        I read about a new one today — Paul Ryan is branding the health insurance plan he wants to replace the ACA with: he calls it “Better Way.” Can’t you just hear everyone tossing that one around as they discuss the issue?

        • Rob

          Nobody does Orwell-speak better than Paul Ryan.

  • KTN

    I recently moved to Whitefish MT, which is this clowns hometown. Yeah, he gets a lot of airtime, but I did read in the local paper that Twitter suspended his account. Apparently spewing this brand of racism goes against what Twitter is attempting to do in a civilized society.

  • three fingers
    • wjc

      Ridiculous! So you have no problem with racism?

      • LiberalismFailed

        He’s saying whites need a safe space to go to. Like Israel, only for white people, so whites don’t have to live like they do in multiracial democracies like South Africa or Zimbabwe, where they live in fear of being murdered, having their property expropriated by the government, and living in walled off towns.

        • wjc

          So yeah, racism.

        • tboom

          If you want to create a safe place for whites only don’t expect to create your segregated society in my country.

        • Kassie

          Whites don’t have to live in multiracial democracies. They choose to invade lands with people of color and are welcome to leave them. This includes all of North and South America, Africa, Australia and Asia. Maybe Russia is a good place to try?

          • Jerry

            Russia, despite some of their best efforts, is a very multiracial and multiethnic country.

          • Kassie

            Yes, I know that. I’ve known a few Asian Russians and that there are a large number of Muslim Russians, but Richard Spencer said fostering a better relationship with Russia would help with their goals, so I thought they could look there for their mythical white paradise and see how it goes.

            (Edited for lots of their/there issues)

    • Micah

      Sounds like the same old Eurocentrism that has been justifying oppression and enslavement for centuries. I’m not impressed.

    • Rob

      H.L. Mencken said it best: “He is brilliant, but utterly corrupt. He shines and stinks like a rotten mackerel in the moonlight.”

  • JFP

    As hard as it was for me to listen to, I am glad I listened. I was especially surprised with his views on LEGAL immigration. I didn’t know the alt-right was wanting to push that far.

    • Rob

      Let’s quit calling it the alt-right. White identity politics is what it is, so let’s call it that.

      • Anna

        We really should call them white supremacists and not use the PC term alt-right.

        Trump blew the lid off PC and now we have the current turmoil and racism and bigotry has come crawling out of the woodwork where it has hidden for the last 45 years.

        As is said down South where I was raised, let’s call a spade a spade and that is not referring to anyone of color.

        The fact that bigoted and racist posts like the one calling Michelle Obama an “Ape in heels” were yanked almost immediately after they were posted leads me to believe that decorum and civility in America is not totally dead.

        If we don’t recognize the wolf in sheep’s clothing among us and recognize it for what it is and raise a challenge then we have no one to blame but ourselves if we remain silent.

    • JamieHX

      I was surprised by a couple things he said, too. One of them was (when asked about Republicans):

      “Not a fan,” Spencer said, acknowledging he likes Republican voters. “In
      terms of operatives, in terms of the conservative movement, not a fan.”

      I wanted to know more about what he meant by that.

      • Paul Long

        It meant that he is OK with Nazis, Klansmen, and pleas to make America White Again, but Republicans are just too much for him to handle.

  • Will

    As a person who believes in equality, I can’t understand why people on the left think “safe space for Europeans,” is offensive but when used with any other race it’s 100% acceptable. Safe spaces are silly for anyone, we should all be confronted with ideas, racial diversity and even confrontational topics in the name of education and community.

    • JStrander

      That’s actually what a safe-space is meant to be: a place for an open and honest exchange of ideas (theoretically done in a civil way). The term is purposefully misused/misconstrued by some on the right (particularly the alt-right) to create fear and distrust of places like college campuses and the youth that attend. I assume it’s to continue the narrative of “elites” and to reinforce the idea that education somehow makes you one, but that’s just conjecture on my part.

      • Rob

        Let’s quit calling it the alt-right. It sounds way too benign, like a highway detour.

        • Or a keyboard command.

          • Jerry

            Musical genre?

    • Rob

      As long as the notion of “safe space for Europeans” also includes the people from all the countries the European nations colonized and clusterf+!ed, I’m O.K. with it.

    • Paul Long

      Can we please drop the idea there is somehow a unified white European “culture”? Even the Europeans don’t buy this. There is an Irish culture, a French culture, a Polish culture, a Scots culture, a German culture, and so on and so forth. But as we have seen in recent months, a European culture? Not a chance. The only thing white Europeans have in common is their supposed whiteness.

    • Jay T. Berken

      Mars is free of minorities if you would like a “safe space for Europeans” otherwise you will have to deal with the scrutiny of others opinions and/or scorns, including conservative ones.

      • Stephen Hawking says we only got 1,000 years to find a new place to live because this planet is toast.

        So at least there’s that.

        • tboom

          That would be at least the sixth major mass extinction for Mother Earth. Maybe this time she’ll get it right.

    • Dan

      ***”As a person who believes in equality, I can’t understand why people on the left think “safe space for Europeans,” is offensive”***

      Can you really not, though? When he says “safe space for Europeans”, he’s advocating White Nationalism and white supremacy.

      Focusing on his hijacking of the term “safe space”, or your thoughts on “safe spaces” at college campuses, are not equivalent and are distractions.

      _As someone who believes in equality_, I’m sure you wouldn’t want to distract from his advocacy of white supremacy and your rejection of the idea.

      • Will

        As I said elsewhere we need to get rid of the idea of white supremacy or any race supremacy immediately.

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  • crystals

    If you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend this story from mid-October about the son of a well known white supremacist. (Not the same one interviewed today.)

    The white flight of Derek Black:

    • BJ

      That was incredible thanks for sharing.

  • Paul Weimer

    McEvers did take pains to try and reassure listeners that she felt that NPR listeners should hear the views from the horse’s mouth, as it were. It was a fair amount of airtime to give to a white supremacist, though.

    Contra Will, Three Fingers and Liberalism Failed, this is NOT a vision I want implemented in my country. You might as well tear down the Statue of Liberty if you wanted to carry this White nationalist vision of America to fruition.

    • Will

      She made it clear that the views were going to be offensive and gave warnings, I think people knew what they were going to hear…it’s good to hear awful ideologies to at least know how they operate and how to defeat them.

      • Rob

        Anyone who’s unclear on these awful ideologies and how they operate, lo these several hundred years since the advent of slavery in the U.S., has not been paying attention.

        • RBHolb

          Too many people have been ignoring this issue for too long. How many times have you heard “racism is dead?” Or that the Klan and its ilk are historical relics, and “no one does that kind of thing anymore?”

          • Rob

            Yup. Whenever I hear a politician say “That’s not who we are,” I immediately think “Apparently, we are.”

      • JFP

        Agreed. But I also agree with Bob below. It isn’t a new train of thought. I once asked if an acquaintance was Neo-Con. I was told that Confederate thinking isn’t new.

  • Rob

    If NPR/MPR wants to continue their wrong-headed notions of granting airtime to R Spencer and other fringeoids, I urge them to be more accurate in how they refer to these people. Calling them the alt right plays right into their hands. They need to be referred to in more accurate, descriptive ways that make their white identity politics fully transparent. Come to think of it, I’ve got an even better idea: Don’t give these racist, exclusionary clowns airtime in the first place.

    • Melanie Fowler

      I’m glad i know this butt hole is out there.

    • X.A. Smith

      I don’t know. The press has been paying little attention to them, and then lo and behold they take the White House. Maybe we should be getting to know the problem instead of ignoring it.

      • Rob

        I always knew they were there, and that they were a problem. And groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center have done an excellent job of tracking and reporting on these pinheads over the decades. So if it came as a surprise to you that these haters got excited about a racist autocrat running for office and voted accordingly, I’d suggest you haven’t been paying attention.

        • X.A. Smith

          You pay a lot closer attention than most people. Except to what I said, which is that the press is now playing catch-up. I am fully aware of the issue. I agree with you, so you can calm down. Most people don’t pay close attention like you.

  • Melanie Fowler

    I love that u gave this guy air time, everyone should know that this guy supports trump and is our enemy again. I feel like it is 1960 again. How can civil rights, and registries based on etnicity/race/religion, the environment be on the table again? How can there be no one with a science degree from the new administration? Trump is bringing out all these creeps! DECEMBER 3RD KKK MARCHES to celebrate trump’s victory!!! This guy sounds like a spoiled white brat. The alt right should realize this is a waste to worry about, we have more significant problems then the one this looser raises. White alt was no issue for people before trump, now trump is in office and this white alt shit is everywhere. Trump needs to be removed for all the progress we’ve ever made in the last 50 to 70 years.

    • Anna

      The one story that pegs Trump for who he really is is his planned “Victory Tour” of the states who voted for him.

      As one news organization so aptly pointed out, he has time for a “victory tour” but doesn’t have time to appear at his fraud trials in California and New York.

      I tried finding a reference to any other president who might have done this and I can find none, at least not in this century or the last.

      He’s like a teenager who gets the keys to the car for the first time and goes joy riding with his friends.


  • MrE85

    Rather than listen to this interview, I’m going to see the movie “Loving” instead.

    I read “Intelligence Report” from the Southern Poverty Law Center (I’m a donor). I know these people are out there (and here), and the vile lies they spread. Thanks anyhow, NPR.

    • Kassie

      I don’t know about the new movie, but there is a great documentary about the Loving family on Netflix. People should check it out.

    • RBHolb

      Loving v. Virginia is the best case name in the history of the Supreme Court, if not in all of American jurisprudence.

      • Robert Moffitt

        I couldn’t agree more.

  • Melanie Fowler

    this country was never white, white european settlers took it for themselves from native americans. new administration equals a bigger swamp. look how easy it is for negativity to take over, it takes a truly strong person to reject the ideas of racism. it takes a much much stronger person to embrace the positvity and ideas that come from diversity & inclusion. and we must tolerate each other, we must teach each other to include each other. don’t tell me i have to tolerate this ass hole and then implement his ideas of nontolerance. you can’t change the colors of the world. i was raised in a racist household in a very diverse city it was hell battling my demons and what is expected from me by my family. society has expectations as well, we need to do things that keep the peace, there must be no tolerance for intolerance.

  • MarkUp

    I’m interested to hear what WWII veterans make of all this.

    • Identitarian_Ethic

      What does WWII have to do with any of this?

  • Kurt O

    According to All Things Concidered on October 28, Spencer is technically correct about swastikas:

    “The swastika has existed for 5,000 years in Asia as a symbol of good fortune. It’s a very common religious symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Placing the swastikas on the doorstep is a way of extending good wishes to all who come through our home.”

    • Rob

      I wonder if the people who experienced Kristalnacht thought the swastikas they encountered were symbols of good wishes…

  • tom negron

    the alt-right is resulting in the alt-left; richard spenser expressed his opinion and his interviewer, rather than letting us understand who this person is, tried her best to pigeon hole his views and disparage them; it’s OUR job to agree or disparage, not the interviewer’s; her warnings about the content were not really consistent with the actual content: so, as a liberal and a democrat (SMALL ‘d’), and as someone who fears our democracy is under attack, i wish to ensure that we can all LISTEN to each other openly without censorship, however subtle; that we can continue to be small-d democracy without polarizing and pre-judging; THEN we all need to take our stand on what we want our country to be, in a democratic — still small-d — manner: otherwise we will turn in to the alt-r ourselves;

    • I don’t know. A lot of people wouldn’t want their kids to hear someone say that only white people should be allowed into the U.S. and that the U.S. should be for white people, though I can see where some white people might say, “oh, that wasn’t so bad.”

      But it sounds like you might’ve heard something in the interview that sounded reasonable and met the values of the United States. What is it?

      If being alt-right is being a white supremacist — and it is, given this guy coined the term — then being alt-left would be NOT being a white supremacist.

      Why would that be considered a perjorative?

      • tom negron

        this is not a conversation for kids

        you don’t have to be reasonable to speak so long as you follow the rules about that

        being alt -l can turn into being undemocratic: that’s my point

      • Rob

        Where do I sign up for the alt-left club?

    • Rob

      Listen to the haters all you want, but please don’t delude yourself that media outlets that give these tools airtime are advancing democracy with a small d.

    • Rob

      Some things are inherently polarizing; white supremacist bloviating is one of these things.

  • Monica Zepeda

    Richard Spencer is an idiot. Apparently his racist views & Hitler rhetorical discourse is completely flawed. Europeans did not civilize any of the Americas! Native Americans came way before any white man, living here 10,000-40,000 years. His white ancestors came to rape, pillage, and steal from these indigenous people. Why not native Americans send you back to your white country?! I might be more fortunate than Spencer, since I’m 39% Native American, but my Spanish, Italian & Greek says my ancestors came also w/ Europeans. However, my land grants will prove that my family came long before many white people. This country was never white & it will never be what a White Nationalist wants. Go back to where you came from! You crossed our borders & stole from my ancestors!!!!

  • Duke D

    The problem of racism and all other social ills are as old as mankind. God’s kingdom will consist of people from every nation, tribe, and tongues. What really matters is our eternal destiny and what kingdom we want to belong to. Do you want to be a part of- the kingdom of God or the kingdom of darkness. The kingdom of God clearly tells us to love one another, 1 John 4:7. The solution for mankind problems is found in Jesus Christ, John 14:6.

  • Kurt O

    Part of my personal philoshopy is to listen to all sides of an issue, regardless of how odious they might be (like lowercase “all things considered). I’m curious about how people view the world and their place in it and how they got there. It doesn’t matter whether they’re skinheads or PETA members, everyone has a viewpoint and history of how they developed it.

    As long as humans have existed there has been intolerance of one kind or another. Through the 20th century, intolerance of intolerance started to get some traction, which is a good thing. Now we’re entering the realm of intolerance of intolerance of intolerance, which is weird. It’s like “I am angry at the way you are being angry about other people being angry!” My brain is about ready to explode.

    I can’t remember which angle of intolerance he was coming from, but about a year and a half back Joe Pags, a conservative radio talk show host, said that we’re headed towards a civil war. I’m hoping that the weapons all sides use continue to be words.

    • You know, it’s funny, for years I’ve said there’ll be another Civil War in the U.S. and people laughed as if we’re somehow immune to the stew that leads to civil strife. We’re not even remotely immune. Not even close .

  • Danny

    Safe space? Both of these far left and far right groups need to stop with this safe space crap. I’m about to start an alt-center group so we can slap alt-left and alt-right. Sick of this nonsense. You all need to get a life, then you wouldn’t be complaining about it so much. Make some friends. Go on a date. Have sex. smoke weed. Whatever you need to do.

  • Rob

    This may be a bit of an aside, but it’s appalling to me that at the same time that the legitimate media is reporting – quite correctly – on how racist T.Rump and his appointees are, they continue to refer to the American citizens of Japanese descent who were unconstitutionally interned during WWII, as “Japanese.” Such referencing is not only inaccurate, it’s racist, IMHO. As to the interning itself, I think we can all agree that nothing says American Exceptionalism like stripping citizens of their property, denying them due process, and imprisoning them.