White nationalist leader Richard Spencer: "We're not going away" now that Donald Trump's in office

"This is just the beginning," the alt-right figurehead warned NPR's Kelly McEvers. "And I'm very excited"

Published November 18, 2016 3:52PM (EST)

 (Reuters/Eric Thayer)
(Reuters/Eric Thayer)

Richard Spencer, the professional racist widely regarded as a founder of the alt-right, wants the world to know that "we're not going away."

During a Thursday interview on NPR, Spencer discussed the future of the white supremacist movement that he leads alongside individuals like Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart chairman who was recently tapped to be President-elect Donald Trump's chief strategist. Although the Twitter accounts of Spencer and other alt-right leaders were suspended on Tuesday, Spencer remains optimistic about the movement's future now that Trump is in the White House.

"This is the first time we've really entered the mainstream, and we're not going away," Spencer told NPR host Kelly McEvers. "I mean this is just the beginning. And I'm very excited."

When asked about the ultimate goal of the notoriously racist, anti-Semitic, and xenophobic movement, Spencer didn't mince his words.

"What I would ultimately want is this ideal of a safe space effectively for Europeans," he explained. "This is a big empire that would accept all Europeans. It would be a place for Germans. It would be a place for Slavs. It would be a place for Celts. It would be a place for white Americans and so on."

"For something like that to happen and really for Europeans to survive and thrive in this very difficult century that we're going to be experiencing, we have to have a sense of consciousness," Spencer added. "We're going to have to have that sense of identity."

Although Spencer may not have a direct line to the Trump White House, the appointment of Bannon is a clear signal that Trump is interested in the alt-right's policymaking perspective. As an ideological leader of the alt-right (one hesitates to refer to Spencer's talking points-based thinking as intellectual), what would he push for?

After mentioning natural conservation and a friendlier relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Spencer singled out immigration as the most important issue for him.

"I think we need to get beyond thinking about immigration just in terms of illegal immigration," he said. "Illegal immigration is not nearly as damaging as legal immigration. Legal immigration — they're here to stay. Their children are here and so on. And I think a really reasonable and I think palatable policy proposal would be for Donald Trump to say, look; we've had immigration in the past. It's brought some fragmentation. It's brought division. But we need to become a people again. And for us to do that, we're going to need to take a break from mass immigration. And we're going to need to preference people who are going to fit in, who are more like us. That is European immigration."

Spencer refused to condemn hate speech that has proliferated since Trump's election.

"You're not going to get me to condemn any of this because you haven't said anything that is really fundamentally illegal or immoral," he told McEvers. "I might not agree with some people. I might not like this. I might like that, not like that. But the fact is these are people expressing themselves. I'm not going to condemn any of that."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Alt Right Donald Trump Richard Spencer White Nationalism