On the January 30, 2016 episode of the Radix Journal podcast, white supremacist leader Richard Spencer interviewed alt-right Twitter personality Ricky_Vaughn99 about the latter’s descent into the white nationalist movement.
Vaughn may be a twenty-something-year-old white nationalist whose nom de plume is borrowed from Charlie Sheen’s character in the 1989 movie Major League, but critics shouldn’t be fooled. After all, he earned a place on the MIT Media Lab’s list of 150 election influencers (Vaughn ranked 107, beating out Drudge Report and NBC News, among others) in February 2016.
In other words, there’s an audience for Vaughn and his trolling, whether he’s on Twitter (from which he was banned in early October) or GAB, the emerging social media platform for the far right. As long as this audience exists, Vaughn will find a way to reach them.
Vaughn explained his political transition to white nationalism. Vaughn stated that his evolution began with the Ron Paul presidential campaigns. Paul, a former Texas congressman known for his libertarian views and love of the gold standard, has had his own complicated history with race (see his views on the Civil Rights Act and newsletter controversy) which makes Vaughn’s political origins completely unsurprising.
But after beginning with libertarianism, Vaughn eventually rejected it because of its lack of focus on “culture, race, all those kind of things.” He then “intellectually explored the criticism” of feminism, before moving on to reject racial equality as a concept. This began, he said, with the Trayvon Martin case when he found himself wondering why the media was “lying about” George Zimmerman and “trying to make this racial narrative.”
From there, he began reading Chateau Heartiste — the website of pickup artist and white supremacist James Weidmann. He followed a link from CH to My Posting Career, the Something Awful spin-off whose Neo-Nazi forum members coined the “cuckservative” meme. Spencer, in turned, called the connection to Ron Paul “interesting,” and joked that “those liberals were right that Ron Paul led to racism.”
Spencer: Tell us a little bit about your own journey, because I first — you first came onto my radar screen [I would say] maybe six or nine months ago, now. So definitely in the height of the Trump phenomenon.
Once the Trump — once it was clear that this wasn’t just a vanity campaign for Trump, and it wasn’t just, like, Trump trying to be Mr. Republican, that he was gonna do something totally different, that’s when I started to notice you and I started to notice some other people.
So, maybe talk a little bit about your own, you know, ideological journey. You know, were you a shitlord in 2014 or do you think you’ve kind of, you’ve taken a — there’s been a change in your life and the way you see the world because of Trump, or talk about —
Spencer: — talk about these things.
Vaughn: Of course. Well, politically I would have to go back to the Ron Paul campaigns.
Vaughn: I sort of rejected liberalism in high school. I considered it, rejected it because of a lot of the libertarian critiques. And was a supporter of [the] Ron Paul campaign. And, sort of in the last three years have rejected the libertarian point of view in favor of — because I think it doesn’t take into account a lot of things that we see are — now are starting to see that they drive current events.
Talking about culture, race, all those kind of things. I also went through a, sort of — the first thing I rejected was — and I never was really, I never was a feminist, I never was a believer in feminism, but that was the first thing that I sort of intellectually explored the criticism of that.
And from there, it really went to — after the Trayvon Martin thing, when I figured out how they were lying about this guy, George Zimmerman the whole time. You ask yourself why were they lying about him, why were they trying to make this racial narrative? And you start to get into the criticisms of anti-racism, equalism, all those sorts of things.
And one thing leads to another. I was reading Heartiste a lot. He links to MPC.com, and that’s a forum where I spend a lot of time lurking. I signed up eventually. And since then I’ve been reading all this sort of alt-right blogs. I have a lot of — I read a lot of blogs and, that’s about it.
Spencer: Yeah it’s interesting, I’ve known a lot of people who came towards our movement — you know the alt-right or identitarianism or whatever you want to call it — from the Ron Paul campaign.
Vaughn: Right, yeah.
Spencer: And so it’s interesting, like, in a way, like a lot of those liberals were right that Ron Paul led to racism.
Vaughn: Yeah, it’s true. It’s true.
Spencer: At least for some of us.