Richard Spencer, one of the leading figures in the white supremacist alt-right movement, told his podcast co-host that the alt-right didn’t actually believe in free speech and that the alt-right only claimed to advocate for it for “radically pragmatic” reasons.
Spencer and other alt-right advocates have argued for years that their ideas should be given platforms and unwarranted credibility under the guise of free speech. Their free speech argument has earned the alt-right column after column in national news publications and has been used as a bludgeon to argue that universities should be required to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to guarantee alt-right activists’ security on campus. The free speech argument has served as the alt-right’s admission ticket into mainstream politics, but Spencer’s recent statements seem to indicate the alt-right’s appeal to free speech is disingenuous.
Last month, in an episode of the podcast affiliated with the now-defunct AltRight.com, co-host Gregory Conte, who works as director of operations at Spencer’s National Policy Institute, was speaking with Spencer about possible government regulation of social media in response to tech companies suspending alt-right activists from social media platforms. Conte said that he thought the alt-right would favor government regulation of speech in the short term, but seemed uncertain about what the alt-right would support long-term.
Conte asked Spencer, “Are we even pro-free speech?”
“No, of course not,” Spencer said. “But we have to use this platform in order—“
“So, we’re being radically honest, here?” Conte asked.
“Yes, radically pragmatic,” Spencer replied.
(h/t It’s Going Down)