As reported by The Atlantic, several attendees of the 2016 NPI conference gave impromptu Nazi salutes at the close of Richard Spencer’s speech. For white nationalists seeking to rehabilitate their reputations by rechristening their movement as the “alt-right,” the moment was a PR disaster. For the mainstream media and the tens of thousands of “normies” who watched the news, it erased whatever doubts they had that Spencer and his compatriots were just crude white supremacists.
While some attempted to defend Spencer et al., other fringe figures — including some white nationalists — have condemned their actions as unhelpful. William Johnson, for example, wrote an open letter to Spencer telling him to “Knock it off!” Mike Cernovich, a California attorney and quasi-men’s rights activist, went even further than just reprimanding Spencer.
In a video uploaded to his YouTube channel, Cernovich blasted Spencer as “controlled opposition” and suggested he might be a federal agent whose goal is to discredit the alt-right:
But the alt-right has been taken over by controlled opposition. Now what is controlled opposition and how does that work? Here’s controlled opposition: If you wanna defeat a movement, you let it be taken over by people who will then do what you tell them to do…
So Glenn Beck has long been controlled opposition for “conservatism.” Ben Shapiro is controlled opposition for “conservatism.” Richard Spencer is controlled opposition for — he’s owned by the media. Richard Spencer’s owned by the media, maybe even has government connections.
So, I’m sure we’ve all seen the Atlantic video where they go “Hail,” you know, “Trump, hail victory!” And it’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s the dumbest — it is so fucking stupid, I can’t overstate how dumb, how dumb it is.
Let’s say, hypothetically, that you’re Neo-Nazi. And hypothetically you want to normalize Neo-Nazism. Start from that proposition. You don’t go “Hail Trump, hail victory,” stick your arm out — “Oh I’m just stickin’ my arm out” — and then have other people throw out the Nazi salute. Right?
That is so dumb. And Richard is a very smart man. Richard is too smart to ever do something like that. And I love people like “Mike is triggered, Mike is this…” Mike isn’t anything. I’ve never said — I’m not alt-right, I’m not this. I’m just runnin’ my own thing.
But there’s controlled opposition. A lot of you people who are alt-right, who identify as alt-right, are gonna end up in prison. I’m tellin’ you that right now. There are people who are gonna get framed for crimes because you’re gonna get caught up. There are government operatives right now who’ve invaded the alt-right. So, I’m just tellin’ ya, a lot of people are gonna go to prison.
In other words, the imagery at the 2016 NPI conference was so blatant that something had to have been planned from the start. Then, Cernovich appeared on Paul Joseph Watson’s show to discuss, among other things, Spencer and whether the alt-right is “dead”:
Watson: So what basically happened was the mainstream media invited this white supremacist group. Or at least, basically invited them for a documentary. [They] said “We’re making a documentary at the Atlantic. It’s coming out next month. We want to attend your conference to hear your message.”
And it’s the same thing that I get basically every other day now from the mainstream media. They’re all polite and friendly with you upfront. “Oh it’s not gonna be a hit piece. Oh no.” Of course when you actually do it, it’s a massive hit piece. They edit you. They make you look ridiculous.
That’s why, unless it’s live, I don’t talk to the mainstream media. I don’t play their game, because I don’t need them. We’ve got our own massive platform. We are the media. We don’t need the fake news media.
So they basically got a bunch of people to do Seig Heil Nazi salutes at this, quote, alt-right conference, put it out there immediately, put the video out. It went completely viral, over two million views. Showed it to Trump. Basically he had to disavow the quote alt-right because they framed these, what, fifty to sixty individuals as being the alt-right.
And you can see how truly demented they look as they run up to the stage, enthusiastically Seig Heil-ing. They’re encouraging other people to do this Nazi salute, whether they were provocateurs or not. Some of them probably were. Well, don’t allow provocateurs, infiltrators into your event. That’s stupid to begin with.
But as you can see it wasn’t just a few people. And there was a story that came out afterward that said, “Oh, it was this half-Jewish person, that was the only person doing the Seig Heil salute.” Wrong. There’s at least twelve, fourteen, fifteen people in that crowd doing this Seig Heil salute. So, the mainstream media came out and said Trump has to disavow the alt-right. Trump saw this video, he subsequently disavowed the alt-right.
So then of course you had the big alt-right drama that spilled out over Twitter with, you know, myself, Cernovich, [Stefan] Molyneux, all kinds of other people. And they came out and said, “Well, you’re just virtue signaling to the mainstream media. You’re just virtue signaling to the Left, by disavowing yourself from this group.”
And again, do you really think I need to virtue signal to the mainstream media to get attention because I want to be on friendly terms with them? You know I turn down their requests every single day because I don’t need them. I don’t need to play their game. So it’s not us that’s colluding with the mainstream media when we disavow from a group that literally worships Hitler. I mean that’s not really good optics is it? That doesn’t resonate with the American people. That’s not what won Trump the election.
So Mike, you know, it’s them that are colluding with the mainstream media. They need the platform. They invited the snakes into the den, the mainstream media. And the mainstream media got exactly what they wanted, right?
Cernovich: Yeah, I believe the photo op was staged. I believe it was planned, and that it was a quid pro quo. So Richard gets millions of dollars in free media coverage, he gets a free documentary about himself, and then — wink, wink, nod, nod — he writes “Hail Trump” and the provocateurs get up and do the Roman salute.
That was the reason I — the reason I distanced myself, especially, is because, well, a number of reasons. One is it’s a folly beyond measure. Another reason is why did Richard bring Trump’s name into it, right? There’s a lot of questions that intelligent people would ask and, as you know I’m a lawyer. So part of my job was to uncover when people are lying to me.
Why would Richard Spencer invite the Atlantic in there, with cameras, and then mention “Hail Trump,” and then have people come up and do the Roman salute or Nazi salute, or whatever you wanna call it. That’s just a little bit too perfect. Doesn’t it seem a little bit too perfect to you? Like a photo op is how I view it.
Watson appeared to want to rehabilitate the alt-right to a degree, trying to make it clear that white nationalism and the alt-right are not inseparable. (They are, actually.) For example, he labeled Spencer someone who “literally worships Hitler,” which, as much as it pains me to say it, is both inaccurate and about as close to the “literally Hitler” meme as anything I’ve seen.
In addition, both he and Cernovich accused Spencer of political/financial chicanery, inviting the dreaded “mainstream media” to his conference, perhaps in order to promote himself and get free media coverage. A “photo op” is what Cernovich labeled it. Needless to say, both Watson and Cernovich received a less than courteous response from the rest of the alt-right.
The Neo-Nazi website Infostormer, for example, blasted Cernovich with an article entitled “RIDICULOUS ALT-LITE JEW FAGGOT MIKE CERNOVICH CLAIMS RICHARD SPENCER IS A SECRET AGENT.” As the folks at Infostormer put it, Cernovich is “scaring people into thinking that people associated with the Alt Right are going to get entrapped by federal agents and sent to prison” just because “he thinks it was dumb that Spencer hailed Trump and raised a glass to the audience.”
Commenters were similarly scathing, claiming Cernovich went “full jew-tard” and stating that his “beady eyes and nose are a true hallmark of a rodent from hell.”
In another Infostormer article, Watson is called a “faggot shill” and his discussion with Cernovich was brushed aside as “a bunch of autistic and speculative gibberish.” “This whole incident has been a huge positive,” wrote the article’s author. “It has made these Alt-Lite shills show their true colors to a larger number of people. Over time they will be purged from our ranks.”