Richard Spencer, executive director of the National Policy Institute (NPI), was beginning his opening remarks as I settled uneasily into my seat in the back row of a small, brightly lit banquet room. From a podium at the front of the room, the brown-haired young man pointed to a projection of a color-shaded world map that he claimed depicted regional variations in the average Intelligence Quotient (IQ) of indigenous populations.
According to the map, East Asian and European peoples possess the highest IQs while African and Australian indigenous populations possess the lowest. He then switched to a NASA photograph of the world at night, depicting city lights around the globe visible from space. He compared the brightest-lit areas (China, Europe, North America) to the previous map, proclaiming that the brightest localities were also those with the highest IQ.
"You can see, Africa is literally the Dark Continent."
It was on that note that NPI's national conference, titled Towards a New Nationalism: Immigration and the Future of Western Nations, began. This was the first such event for the fledgling white nationalist organization NPI, a think tank of sorts dedicated to "promot[ing] the American majority's unique historical, cultural, and biological inheritance - and advances policies that, without prejudicing the legitimate rights of others, fearlessly defends our rights...our heritage." Dedicated, in other words, to advancing the interests of the white race.
The event was a first for me as well. I would be, for the first time, experiencing a gathering of white supremacists from such an intimate perspective. Watching, learning, interacting -- I would attempt to sort out what they believe and why and explore the relationship between the white nationalist movement and the more mainstream political spectrum. As a clean-cut white male, my presence wasn't suspicious and the other attendees assumed I shared their views. For my part, I let them assume, and I did my best to blend in.
I had no idea what to expect when I arrived at 9 a.m., but a part of me anticipated swarms of protestors, a strong police presence clashing with private security forces and a raucous racist crowd inside the hall, cheering on some podium-smacking orator bloviating about the evils of the Jewish race and the need to oppress the black community.
Instead, I was greeted jovially upon arrival to a scene that more closely resembled a modest cocktail party, with no security and a few people standing around sipping coffee and discussing literature. I picked up my name tag and glanced at the design -- a photograph of a white family smiling over a white background adjacent to the well-known political cartoon by Benjamin Franklin depicting a severed serpent and the phrase "JOIN, or DIE."
Reading over the conference program, I caught a glimpse of what I was in for from the titles of the speeches to come. They ranged from the blandly predictable - "Is Arizona the Answer?", "Prospects for a Nationalist Right in America"; to the ominously enigmatic - "Apocalypse Now," "Totalitarian Humanism and Mass Immigration," "The Masters of the Universe"; to the truly chill-inducing -- "The Idea and Ideal of the Ethno-State."