The hatemonger next door 

How clean-cut Flathead resident Richard Spencer is trying to make white separatism respectable

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His website is evidence of his own duality. On the National Policy Institute’s homepage, a photo of an attractive family gives the impression that the site is just another family values foundation, but if you click on the photo, a dark video depicting riots, shouting blacks and burning buildings unveils what NPI is really about.

The organization seeks to preserve the “heritage, identity and future of European people in the United States and Around the World.” The “lesbians” and “Latinos” have advocates working for them, so why shouldn’t whites, Spencer asks in the video.

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In the video, his voice is mixed over an industrial soundtrack as he intones, “As long as whites continue to avoid and deny their racial identity at a time when almost every other ethnic category is rediscovering and asserting its own, whites will have no chance to resist their disposition.”

This approach is far more sophisticated than that of the dozens of white supremacists who have moved to the Flathead Valley in recent years, as part of a shambolic effort to establish a white “ethno-state” there.

Spencer doesn’t interact much with the others in Montana. His supporters are younger and scattered around the world, from India to France. When I asked Spencer about the other like-minded crusaders in the region, he dismissed them as too overtly radical.

Spencer says he has no desire to advertise his views to his neighbors. “I don’t want to get in big disputes with anyone in Whitefish,” he says. “I would like this to be a place where I have a little bit of an anonymous status.”

“Our job is not to be reactionary in the sense that blacks commit a lot of crime or ‘we don’t like Mexican immigrants.’ All that stuff is real, but we don’t want to be any stupider than that and say, ‘Mussolini is my homeboy,’” Spencer says. “We need to be ahead of the game.”

Packing up, Spencer and I walked slowly out of the coffee shop together, returning to earlier conversations about Washington politics. As we shook hands and parted ways, I turned briefly to get a glimpse of him walking away. I couldn’t help being surprised that that same well-manicured man had just expressed so much hate.

This article first appeared in Salon.com. An online version remains in the Salon archives. Reprinted with permission.

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