Richard Spencer, Finalist for Dallas Morning News Texan of the Year
If Spencer turns out to be the “winner” — if he’s the paper’s Texan of the Year for 2017 — the common take will be that this must be one of those bad persons of the year, like Hitler on the cover of Time magazine in 1938 or Stalin, who made the cover of Time twice, in 1939 and 1942.
And yes, in warning readers that Spencer is in the running, the News made it plain it isn’t looking at him for a commendation. “This designation is not meant as an award,” the paper explained carefully, “but as recognition of those Texans who had uncommon impact, which can be a positive or negative impact, during the past year.”
If anything, I wish people would take Spencer more seriously and listen to him more closely than even the News suggests. Reciting his academic credits — high school at St. Mark’s, University of Virginia undergrad, master’s in humanities from the University of Chicago — the editorial page concludes that “Spencer surely knows the world of academia.” OK, but I think we can stand to concede that, in fact, he is well educated, a good writer and an effective speaker.
The paper says, “Spencer is exploiting America’s perception that it is deeply divided.” A more concise portrayal might be that Spencer speaks directly to the very real and profound divisions in our nation at this time.
The only way for any of us to truly grasp what Spencer is about is for each of us to read or listen to his words. He doesn’t hide the ball.
Here are excerpts from an address Spencer made in November 2016 to the annual conference of a group called the National Policy Institute meeting in the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C.
The puzzle that stumped the Trump-watchers more than any other was the 41 percent of white millennials who voted for him. The question, never quite clearly articulated, was something about why young people would vote for a man who seemed like such a throwback to the values of white people in the mid-20th century.
The speculation boiled down to two candidates for an answer: economic dislocation (no good jobs, angry with life because they’re stuck still living at home) or “racial resentment”.
That debate is pretty much over. Enough time has passed for credible studies and polls to reach completion. An analysis by The Washington Post based on data from the GenForward Survey; a study by social scientists at the University of California Santa Barbara and Stanford University; work by analysts at Demos, a liberal think tank, published by Vox: it all converges at two key points.
[continued / Dallas Observer]