Richard Spencer became a media fixture in 2016 because the overwhelmingly white and middle-class American press was impressed by a white supremacist they found unnervingly relatable, in possession of not only all his teeth, but also “articulate,” “intellectual” and “a neat dresser.” The “white rights activist,” as one mainstream outlet I shit you not described Spencer in 2017, painted himself as the leader of an iconoclastic and edgy new ideology—the term “alt-right” was coined by Spencer in 2008 —as if white supremacy, anti-Blackness and hating Jews isn’t the absolute least transgressive, boringly predictable basis for any American political movement.
Spencer pushes the same tired, debunked, institutionalized race science that—from the 3/5ths Compromise to The Bell Curve to the current anti-history effort—has always justified white American power and the racial caste system that supports it. “We build, we produce, we go upward,” he said in 2016. “We don’t exploit other groups. We don’t gain anything from their presence. They need us, and not the other way around.”
But Spencer’s own wealth comes in part from government handouts and racial exploitation. Back in 2017, the Center for Investigative Reporting found that Spencer’s family owns 5,200 acres of Louisiana cotton and cornfields, farmland that was “subsidized heavily by the federal government,” collecting $2 million in federal payments between 2008 and 2015. Since that report ran, it appears the family has continued to accept funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dickenhorst Farms, owned jointly by Spencer, his mother and his sister, received payments of $50,000 and $94,147 in 2018 and 2019, respectively; since 1994 it’s taken $1,245,118 in government support.