White Nationalists Are Splitting Over Laura Loomer, and These Reveal the Growing Cracks in the Far-Right
While figures like Blake Masters are turning heads with their open nationalist agenda and Marjorie Taylor Greene is trying to criminalize trans people on a nationwide scale, one far-right celebrity race has gotten lost in the shuffle. Internet personality and ultra-right candidate Laura Loomer ran for Congress in Florida's 11th District, pulling a shocking 44.2% of the vote, losing to incumbent Republican Daniel Webster (51.% of the vote) in the primary. If it wasn't for another hard right spoiler candidate, Gavriel Soriano, who won nearly 5% of the vote, it was quite possible she could have pulled off what would have been a victory with almost no historic precedent. Loomer did this well despite being banned from almost all social media and payment platforms (she can’t even get picked up in an Uber), not to mention mainstream conservative conferences like CPAC. Nevertheless, she was endorsed by Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, Roger Stone, and Michael Flynn, revealing the cohesion this new brand has at the furthest right boundary of the Republican Party. Loomer even raised a staggering $763,009 (compared to $595,280 in the Webster campaign), showing that despite being one of the most volatile conspiracy theorists on the Right, there are some still willing to bet their money on her success.
“She stands for all the things we do. She would call for an absolute moratorium on immigration,” says Jared Taylor, the leader of the white nationalist organization American Renaissance (AmRen). AmRen has been a leader of the so-called “race realist” movement in the far-right: the idea that people of the white race are biologically superior, particularly in intelligence, than most non-white people. The AmRen publication, website, and, most importantly, conference, has been a center of the more erudite and academic wing of the white nationalist movement since it started in 1990, and that long tenure has given it several generations of branding. It was associated with paleo-conservatives early on and had several of its leading converts, such as Sam Francis, as conveners. Dissident racist academics, like J. Philippe Rushton or Richard Lynn, known for their largely discredited studies on race and IQ, made up another piece of their audience. Richard Spencer and the burgeoning alt-right constituted its more recent base and that is where its surge of interest came from, but you will also find more conventional neo-Nazi, Klansman, and neo-Confederates in its ranks. Over the past few years they have started to invite a great number of European politicians associated with far-right parties like UKIP, the Front National (now National Rally Party), and he notorious British National Party (BNP).
The upcoming 2022 AmRen conference is notable for two particular attendees. The first is former Iowa Congressman Steve King, who lost his 2020 race to Randy Feenstra. King has been a regular center of controversy his entire career, and this only intensified within the last decade. In 2017, King echoed a clear white nationalist talking point, like the ones found at AmRen, when he wrote that "culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies." He followed that up saying something that sound like he opposed racial intermarriage. In 2019 King suggested it was wrong to presume “every culture is equal,” and questioned why white nationalism was now considered so controversial. Among the mainstream Republican types, there were few that matched the white nationalist agenda quite as perfectly, which is why it was such a celebrated achievement for AmRen when he agreed to speak at their 2022 conference. King had already addressed the America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC), run by the white nationalist Groyper movement and their leader Nick Fuentes, which had also been attended by other far-right Republicans like Marjorie Taylor Green. Most of the figures who had joined AFPAC tried to claim certain amount of “plausible deniability,” claiming that AFPAC was being defamed, that it wasn’t a white nationalist group, or that they simply didn’t know what they were getting themselves into. In this way AFPAC had taken on the role that groups like the white nationalist and neo-Confederate Council of Conservative Citizens did in the 1990s and early 2000s, which was a place where Republican leaders could speak to racists while denying their knowledge of the group’s actual purpose and beliefs. This is not the case, however, with American Renaissance, who is so clear about its politics and so well known across the world that no cover is possible for those it hosts.
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The second attendee is Laura Loomer, which Taylor celebrated along with Paul Kersey on the recent episode of his podcast. Kersey was known for the website Stuff Black People Don’t Like and a string of racist books where he uses “Bell Curve '' style arguments to claim BIPOC inferiority. Reporters have revealed that Kersey is in fact prominent right-wing author and organizer Michael J. Thompson, who had allegedly worked for places like the Leadership Institute and World Net Daily. Both were excited about Loomer’s recent near win in Florida, suggesting it was a sign that the fates were turning in their favor. ”We can no longer deny there is a war on White Americans…things like critical race theory and affirmitve action are just code words for hating whitey,” said Loomer in a post-race speech, one cited affirmatively by Taylor and Kersey.
"Laura Loomer is one of the gutsiest activists on our side,” said Taylor, excited to have her attending his conference. Loomer’s success was also celebrated by writer Gregory Hood, who, like Kersey, is a pseudonym for alt-right activist Kevin DeAnna, himself a former staff person at the Leadership Institute and World Net Daily. In his analysis of the race, he writes that Loomer represents a boon for their side and the close election is a sign not just of her success, but of their movement’s relevance. “Say what you will about Laura Loomer, she fights against extraordinary odds. If Republican politicians had an ounce of her courage, or if conservative voters demanded an ounce more out of their representatives, America would be a very different country,” writes Deanna as Hood. The Groyper movement also counted her race as a blessing, with Fuentes saying that her nearly successful campaign “showed that there is very little left in the way of REAL AMERICA FIRST PATRIOTS like Laura Loomer from TAKING OVER!” Over at the anti-immigration website VDare, Peter Brimelow celebrated Loomer primarily for moving her opponent right on immigration, which may say more about his positive feelings about the influence of her campaign more than about her directly. “I consider my support of Laura Loomer to be one small step for a donor—but a giant leap for immigration patriotism,” said Brimelow on August 6th.
Loomer herself has lived up to her far-right credentials. “It’s an electoral strategy so they can replace the majority of our country,” said Loomer, repeating the Great Replacement conspiracy theory, an antisemitic and white supremacist ideas that non-white people are bring brought in to replace American whites through immigration and disproportionately high birthrates. She has suggested that Congresswoman Ilhan Omar married her own brother for U.S. citizenship and she has addressed groups like The United West, which the Southern Poverty Law Center cites as an anti-Muslim hate organization. Loomer declined to concede that she lost, claiming voter fraud and suggesting that there was a systemically entrenched conspiracy to stop candidates like her, and conservatives in general from winning.
But despite being a favorite of Taylor’s crowd, her support hasn't been offered with uniformity throughout the American white nationalist movement as a whole. Instead of admiration, several white nationalist leaders like Mike Enoch (real name Mike Peinovich) and Richard Spencer have taken the opposite position, one that exposes very real cracks in their movement. This breaks down into two really clear objections, both of which show an ideological break happening across the American far-right.
The Jewish Question
The first of these issues is that Loomer is Jewish, which makes her a non-starter for huge portions of explicit white nationalists. Modern white nationalism is foundationally antisemitic in that their beliefs around the supposed threat of non-white people hinge on the idea that there is a powerful entity pulling the strings. As people like Eric Ward have argued, white nationalists believe that most people of color are intellectually deficient compared to whites or are unable to sustain their own societies, and so they require an intellectual elite to essentially control them, to use them as a weapon against white societies. This conspiracy theory is what they use to explain why demographics are shifting, which they believe would not be the case if whites were acting on their “natural” instincts rather than letting modernity and multiculturalism advance. The central actor in this complex mythology is the Jews, which they believe are an alien race who, while looking white, act on their own interests and in direct conflict to the interests of non-Jewish whites. This idea has found its pseudoscientific explanation and perpetuation in the work of evolutionary psychologist Kevin MacDonald, who calls Judaism a”group evolutionary strategy” that Jews use against non-Jewish whites to fight for resources for their ethnic group. All of history, progress, leftist politics, multiculturalism, modern psychology, antiracist politics, and immigration are considered a ploy by Jews to confuse whites about their proper interests, destabilizing the racial hegemony of the white West.
If this is the foundational narrative of your movement, then Loomer’s Jewish ethnicity would count her out right from the beginning. More than this, her Zionism, which is in line with most far-right political figures in the West today (excluding the open white nationalist contingent), makes her another step beyond the pale for them. But this is not a problem for Taylor, who has included white Jews in his project since the beginning. Taylor has had Jewish racists like Michael Levin, who authored the scientific racist book Why Race Matters, as well as Orthodox Rabbi Mayer Schiller, who often acted as a spokesperson for the Skver Hasidic sect and argues for a type of anti-modern "traditionalism" that includes ethnic nationalism, as speakers at AmRen. This has created conflicts within the white nationalist world, including a contentious moment where David Duke questioned a speaker on the role of the Jews and was decried by a Jewish attendee, Michael Hart, who had been involved with the conference. Taylor is fond of saying that Jews “look white to me,” but he also has acknowledged that he holds antisemitic views. “A strong case can be made the extent to which Jewish intellectuals have undermined white racial consciousness, and I think there’s not doubt that a certain number of elite Jews have been very energetic in coming up with reasons to somehow denigrate any kind of white racial homogeneity or sense of integrity in European countries,” said Taylor, but nonetheless he suggests that some Jews are a part of his movement, that they are essentially white, and that they should be welcomed if they advance his ideas.
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Loomer has historically been considered outside of the formal white nationalist movement. She was a part of what was called the “alt-light,” not alt-right, which means that her far-right politics are just shy of open racial nationalism, and hinges more on “civic nationalism” and conspiracy theories (with a heavy dose of online celebrity). There were other Jewish figures in this world as well, such as Joshua Seidel and Milo Yiannopoulos. Because antisemitism is a sign of political sophistication in white nationalism, indicating a move to open fascism and Nazi style racialism, it often acts as the dividing line between the alt-lite and the alt-right. The alt-lite did not reproduce open antisemitic theories as frequently since those were the property of the more explicit and ideologically consistent white nationalists. Jews were allowed to be members of this crowd with few objections, but the Nazis are not as flexible on this question.
“In my experience, even apolitical jews are doing some sort of destructive force. And I have never encountered, and have never read others who have ever encountered, them doing some sort of they're just off helping the general welfare of people,” says Jazz Hands McFeels, the host of the white nationalist political news podcast Fash the Nation, which used a grotesque caricature of Loomer as its episode image, focusing on an oversized nose they believe is Jewish. “For me it’s a very zero tolerance policy for any of that stuff.”
"In Laura Loomer's case, she is a Zionist. She is an open, militant Zionist... being a Zionist is such a major bad thing, it hurts America so much, it hurts white people so much. Just that alone would disqualify someone for support,” says Warren Balogh, Jazz Hands’ co-host and activist with the National Justice Party, arguing that even a Jew who supposedly works against their own interest is actually trying to subvert white hegemony. "I don't need a Jew to come over to the white nationalist community and be leading us and speaking for us."
Part of the objection to Loomer’s brand of politics goes down to the white nationalist critique of Christian nationalists, who they believe are bought out by Zionists and end up supporting Jews (most experts on antisemitism disagree that Christian Zionism is pro-Jewish). Loomer, while Jewish, appeals more to the growing white Christian nationalist world typified by National Conservatives (NatCons) and the Groypers. “It’s the Jews’ Christianity,” argued Enoch, suggesting that Christian nationalism is fundamentally a Jewish controlled ideology. Loomer’s extensive signals to the ideologies of white Christian nationalism, something that is implicit in the Republican Party today, is a part of the confusing mix of messages coming from her and her supporters. This has made her suspect since she cannot de-Judaize herself and because her brand of far-right politics is forever influenced by Christian nationalism of the Zionist variety.
Revolt Against the Grift
"There are plenty of people who don't fall for her bullshit," says Mike Peinovich on The Daily Shoah, as he and his other co-hosts denounce her as a performative fraud who will do little for their cause. "She's not actually fooling anybody, but there are people who think that she is...and that's where all of her votes come from. A lot of her main supporters are not this dumb but they think everyone else is dumb." What they are suggesting is that their fellow far-right activists believe that Loomer may be tricking the rest of the GOP into voting for their movement, but if pressed, those same white nationalists don’t actually believe Loomer can deliver the goods herself. They believe this is cynical opportunism on the part of her white nationalist supporters, a reasonably apt description given the fact that Loomer’s public political profile, while racist, fails to hit the open bar of racialist advocacy offered by figures like Taylor and Deanna. They claim that Loomer is making outrageous claims, particularly of voter fraud, as part of a clever fundraising pitch, part of the model of outrage-driven grifts pioneered by the alt-light (Enoch argues for mocking supporters of Loomer). “All of us should be rebuking ourselves for this. Somehow we’ve failed,” says Enoch about white nationalist support for Loomer. "She's using you, you're not using her. The Jews are too smart to vote for Laura Loomer, you should be smart too.” Enoch’s position is not uncommon in the alt-right since they believe that half measures, best represented by Trump, the alt-light, and the various insurrectionary far-right elements that coalesced on January 6th, are only an ideological diversion when, instead, the case for white identity should be explicit. The neo-Nazi Eric Stryker contested what he says was the millions of dollars sunk into Loomer’s campaign, which he believes could have used for an openly white supremacist candidate.
"It's a total grift and it's only there to stop actual white nationalism from prospering. It's there to use your faith as a wedge to make sure the online dissident right [this is a term that means the same as alt-right, but an attempt at rebranding] fractures even further,” says Seventh Son, the co-host of The Daily Shoah (whose real name is Jesse Craig Dunstan) about Loomer and the broader Christian nationalism that surrounds, her despite her Jewishness. The bottom line for many of them is that since Loomer raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and had a lot of far-right support, she would have won if winning was actually possible for her. "If this was really so enticing to people, then why didn't it work? It was a Jew in Florida with enormous amounts of money,” says Jazz Hands.
Richard Spencer has been one of the loudest voices rejecting big portions of the conspiracy sphere that hinges on things like false claims of election interference, COVID denialism, Q-Anon, and similar sectors of the right, arguing essentially that movements like the Groypers are strategically and intellectually bankrupt. This has led him to support the election of Biden, for example, because he supported COVID restrictions and some Keynesian economic solutions and also so that white nationalists wouldn't have the false belief that they will have an ally in the White House on racial issues. He has noted that one of the biggest differences between what was known as the alt-right and what is becoming known as the New Right or “dissident right,” typified by people like Fuentes and Loomer, is that they are more tied to the Republican Party and to the world of online, electoral-adjacent politics: they are less revolutionary, and so, from his vantage point, more suspect. “[Right-wing] grifters are incentivized to delay inevitable societal change. Their genius lies in perfectly aligning themselves with the current zeitgeist while demonizing all that lies to both the right and left of it. They are always just ahead of the herd but miles behind the vanguard,” said Mark Brahmin, a frequent co-host of Richard Spencer’s podcasts and livestreams, echoing the break between that section of the alt-right and the New Right circle, typified by Loomer.
This Speaks to the Future of the Right
The American far-right is at a cataclysmic moment of flux, leaving behind the stalwarts of the alt-right who are tactically ill-equipped for the new political alignment. The alt-right imported a European New Right sensibility mixed with pseudo-scientific “race realism,” traditionalism, paleoconservatism, and a few other strands. The alt-light helped mainstream their ideas on immigration and social issues without committing to the more ideologically complicated and racist ideas, which led to eventual breaks as figures like Loomer were unwilling to take the white nationalist message to its logical conclusion. But now in a post-alt-right age, the Civic Nationalist messengers are taking over most of the far-right mantle, and they are using the model of white Christian nationalism to win foot soldiers. White nationalism remains implicit both in the more mainstream National Conservative sphere typified by Blake Masters and its ideologues at places like the Edmund Burke Institute, as well as in the more radical areas of the white nationalist movement, like the Groypers and the new far-right stars who are gaining celebrity by going after the LGBTQ community. In these circles, the Christianity still comes before the “white,” which leaves the hardcore of the white nationalist world (the Richard Spencers and Greg Johnsons of the world) out cold. American white nationalism has always been about alliances with slightly less radical figures on the right that could help bridge their gap with audiences, and now the former alt-right has a lot of choices to make about who they want to build those allegiances with. In the case of Loomer, as with Fuentes and a number of other far-right “e-boys and e-girls,” they are making a calculus about whether or not they get their intended audience as close to their views as possible or if they are diverting their energies too far afield into discredited conspiracy thinking or religious conservatism. In the end, their mission is not to save “American values” or “traditional conservatism,” or even “family values,” but white racial survival as they define it. The blurry lines remain in the fact that even their ideology is built on conspiracy theories (there is something ironic about a white nationalist complaining about having to dispel conspiracy theories), so they are simply trying to arrange various conspiracy tracts onto a map that will lead their incoming base in the direction most useful to their ends.
In the case of Loomer, she has two strikes against her, Jewishness on one hand, and her participation in the online, conspiracy-rife grift machine on the other. This will likely make her too hot for the hardcore white nationalists to touch, further rifting them from organizations like American Renaissance, who are building relationships with her for what seems like opportunistic ends. This is reminiscent of a debate that occurred in 2017 at the fifteenth annual AmRen conference, where Richard Spencer and Sam Dickson, a former Klan attorney and venerable racist, argued that the political system was unreformable, implying that revolution was the only solution for the white race. On the other side of the argument was Peter Brimelow, founder of VDare, and John Derbyshire, formerly of The National Review and that point mostly at Taki’s Mag, who argued that there was some hope in electoralism and reform. As Trump fell out of favor with the alt-right, Spencer in particular, AmRen’s Jared Taylor continued to argue that he was better for the white race and that his acolytes should support him. Loomer’s current inclusion at AmRen is simply a continuation of this long-standing debate, between the value of edgy reformism and the need to build counter institutions, engage in metapolitics, and prepare for revolutionary collapse. With the National Conservatives, Groypers, AFPAC, and other burgeoning post-Trump elements to the right of the GOP, it may be that the reformers are pulling the energy that once had gone to the more radical sectors of the alt-right’s Second Generation, such as Identity Evropa, and this will further alienate people like Richard Spencer who are now left to livestream to diminishing Substack audiences.
One observation from the core of the white nationalists remains true, however, and it's that there is little advantage in them lining up behind Loomer. If their ideology hinges on antisemitism, then support for a Jewish activist will simply undermine their core argument, and she is also still too toxic to build relationships with the broader conservative movement. She’s not radical enough to fight for what they actually want, and she’s too unhinged to motivate converts. It’s a lose/lose equation, and for AmRen, crude celebrity seems sufficient for support. The same cannot be said about Steve King who has sufficiently built a track record in the GOP and is exactly the type of crossover figure that they do best with: a former Republican centerpiece who became persona non grata because of his racial views. This has always been AmRen’s bread and butter, and it is mirrored in the biography of figures like Peter Brimelow, John Derbyshire, Joe Sobran, Sam Francis, and so many others, which is why it makes sense that they would do what is necessary to bring King into their fold. The real question will be if this forever shrinks King’s audience to be the same as AmRen’s, and if this means he is functionally dead in the world of conservative politics.
Right now AmRen is scheduled to take place at Montgomery Bell State Park in Tennessee, where it has been held the last several years under the protection of the state. As a state park hotel facility, management has been unwilling to concede to pressure from local residents and activists who don't want a white nationalist conference happening there, particularly given that families will be unable to enter the park's recreation facilities while the white nationalists are rallying. “It’s an outrage that the taxpayers of Tennessee must finance security for such a hateful event, much less host it in the first place. We are urging everyone to oppose this conference via their community outlets and organizations," says Jane Johnson of the antifascist group the One People's Project, which has been counter-organizing AmRen for years. Organizers of AmRen are likely hoping that the fact that they have been consistently holding the conference at the state facility and that they feature crossover speakers like Loomer and King will undermine the arguments antifascists are making to its extreme nature, further entrenching the group's perspectives amongst right-wing politicos.
Loomer, for her part, seems willing to split the GOP more than her base as she is demanding her supporters not vote for her opponent in November. She refused to concede, a practice that may become standard for the dissident wing of the party (or even the mainstream, the future is unwritten), and seems important for her to maintain her brand. In this new future of the right, politicians never lose on their own merits, they only have elections stolen from them, further entrenching their brand as renegades from a devious system. In the end, it really does not matter what she says her intentions are, she has never actually been a politician and instead makes her living generating online controversies and portraying herself as an unreasonable soldier for truth. This image is meant to convey authenticity, but for the white nationalists she seems to court, the grift has timed out.