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White supremacist to speak at Texas A&M
03:06 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

White supremacist Richard Spencer sat down for a wide-ranging interview with CNN

His speech last month and comments on Trump have garnered national attention

CNN  — 

Last month, Richard Spencer stood behind a podium at a Washington conference center espousing racist ideals and proclaiming “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!”

The moment prompted Nazi salutes by several attendees in the room.

Now Spencer, a 38-year-old white supremacist and founder of the so-called alt-right movement, is taking his rhetoric on the road — giving a speech on the Texas A&M University campus Tuesday evening. To be clear, the university did not invite him. He was brought to campus by a man who attended A&M briefly and as any private individual would be allowed to do, he rented space on campus in a meeting room.

Ahead of the speech, Spencer sat down for a wide-ranging interview with CNN where he claimed he is not, in fact, a white supremacist, despite speaking of a Western civilization that, he says, “only white people can support.”

Spencer is enjoying his 15 minutes in the spotlight following Donald Trump’s win, and openly discusses his attempt to use the increased media attention to his advantage. Trump has said repeatedly that he disavows support from the alt-right and white supremacists.

With a devilish grin, Spencer admits that “Hail-gate” — his words — and the speech he gave that prompted the salutes was “bombastic and provocative.” But the salute itself — something he prefers to call a “Roman salute” but which he admits people associate with Adolf Hitler – doesn’t bother him in the slightest.

“You have to understand the context of it all. It was basically a moment of being exuberant, certainly a moment of being provocative. It was also a moment of being ironic.”

Spencer knows the bombast helped make the video go viral, and thus his message to spread even further.

“We reached tens of millions of people with that video. And millions of people are going to read that speech. There are going to be other things that I said, and they’re going to agree with it. So I don’t want to quite say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but the fact is … through this provocation we broke through in a huge way.”

Speaking with the media, he is noticeably — and admittedly — tamer.

He claims he is not a white supremacist. But his rhetoric speaks otherwise. He spoke often of the “racial consciousness” and of a white “awakening”–two things he believes are now happening thanks to the the current political climate.

“We want to raise the consciousness among Europeans in the United States.”

Ironically, he’s been banned from most of Europe because of his organization’s efforts.

He once called for a “peaceful ethnic cleansing,” a claim he denied during the interview with CNN. But when asked how he would go about removing non-white from America, he had this to say:

“We have experienced this mass migration of people” into the United States, Spencer said. “Therefore they could go home, you can go home again. … They came here peacefully. They could leave peacefully.”

“There are ways – whether it’s a direct payment, whether it’s showing them the beauty of being reconnected with their real culture, there are ways of what you could call re-immigration.”

He calls words like “inclusion” and “diversity” “word salad gobbledy-gook.”

Spencer has no doubt been emboldened by Trump’s recent victory over Hillary Clinton, and he sees his movement growing in the election’s wake.

“Donald Trump as a potentiality was undoubtedly energizing. And what I mean by that is that the Donald Trump campaign was the first time in my lifetime that an identity politics for white people was on the scene.”

Texas A&M organized a university-wide event designed as a counter program to Spencer’s speech and thousands showed up at Kyle Field for what they’re calling “Aggies United” as various speakers and musicians take to the stage in protest of Spencer.

Michael Young, president of Texas A&M, said that to ban Spencer from coming to campus when he was invited by a private individual would infringe upon his First Amendment rights. But that certainly doesn’t mean he condones the rhetoric. Young will be a speaker at the stadium event.

“I think these people represent something that is so antithetical to what I believe,” Young told CNN. “I think their ideas are just simply reprehensible and abhorrent.”

“Our goal is to say that that’s not who we are.”

But Spencer relishes conflict.

“You know that you’re making headway when you create intensity.”

CNN’s Scott Zamost contributed to this report.