For a variety of reasons, including its cheek by jowl location with Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia has become an incubator for both extreme right wing and white supremacy groups. In the 1960s, it was George Lincoln Rockwell and his neo-Nazi political party; in later years, the region has been home to Richard Spencer and his National Policy Institute. But, very quietly, since the 1990s, the New Century Foundation, better known as American Renaissance (AmRen), has chugged along in Oakton, operating as a significant communications and focal point for white supremacy advocates. American Renaissance now identifies itself as an advocate of white identarianism.
Ideology and hate often function in tandem as paired sides of the same coin. Eugenics is the racist pseudoscience determined to wipe away all humans deemed “unfit”, preserving only those who conform to a Nordic stereotype. Elements of its existence were enshrined as national policy by forced sterilization and segregation laws, as well as marriage restrictions, enacted in 27 states. In 2019, like the proverbial cockroach, it persists, and has morphed into white supremacy or, as some proponents prefer, white identarianism. Tracing this lethal virus in Virginia requires a look at history.
In 1904, the Carnegie Institution established a laboratory complex at Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island, New York, that stockpiled millions of index cards on ordinary Americans, as researchers carefully plotted the removal of families, bloodlines, and whole peoples. From Cold Spring Harbor, eugenics advocates agitated in the legislatures of America, as well as the nation’s social service agencies and associations. By 1924, Virginia had passed the Racial Integrity Act, which, among other provisions, outlawed interracial marriage and defined “white” (a person “who has no trace whatsoever of any blood other than Caucasian”). In the same year, the Commonwealth also adopted the Eugenical Sterilization Act. In 1934, the superintendent of Virginia’s Western State Hospital complained in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “The Germans are beating us at our own game.”
In 1937, the Pioneer Fund was chartered in New York City to support and publicize study of “heredity and eugenics” and “the problems of race betterment.” Harry Laughlin, one of the most successful publicists of the “racial radical” branch of the American eugenics movement, and Wickliffe Draper, a wealthy New Yorker who endowed the Pioneer Fund, were early supporters. Laughlin was credited with the authorship of Virginia’s 1924 statutes. The historical record of contacts among Laughlin, Draper, and the Nazi scientists whose work informed Hitler’s “racial hygiene” movement is readily available.
Pioneer funded the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), to a total of $1.3 million between 1985 and 1994. Funding was dropped after negative publicity during the campaign for California’s Proposition 187 linked the Pioneer Fund to ads purchased by FAIR. A number of other immigration-reduction groups received donations from the fund, including the American Immigration Control Foundation located in Montgomery County, Virginia.
One of the grantees was the paleo-conservative and white nationalist journalist Jared Taylor, the editor of American Renaissance and a member of the advisory board of the white nationalist publication the Occidental Quarterly. Many of the key “academic” white nationalists in American Renaissance have been supported by the Pioneer Fund, which was also directly involved in funding the parent organization of American Renaissance, the New Century Foundation in Oakton. Taylor has also been associated with the Occidental Quarterly and the Charles Martel Society, both recipients of financial backing from William Regnery II, a wealthy scion of a Chicago publishing family
History not only tends to repeat itself directly, it may also involve threads—connections among people, events, and ideas that, like a gauzy film, are woven among one another, often undetectable.
But history not only tends to repeat itself directly, it may also involve threads—connections among people, events, and ideas that, like a gauzy film, are woven among one another, often undetectable. Justice John Marshal Harlan II, grandson of John Marshall Harlan, dissented from the decision outlawing poll taxes in Virginia (Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, 1966). Ironically, the elder Harlan was the lone dissenter in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which gifted the nation with the doctrine of “equal but separate” that survived to 1954 until Brown v. Board of Education. Before joining the Supreme Court, Harlan II had a well-respected career in New York City, where he provided legal counsel to the Pioneer Fund and served on Pioneer’s board of directors, along with Harry Laughlin.
Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act was functionally repealed in 1967 following the Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia, banning laws that forbade interracial marriage. The Eugenical Sterilization law was not repealed until 1974. Later, in 2001, the Virginia General Assembly adopted a resolution of apology to the estimated 8,300 individuals affected by the statute; in 2015, it authorized compensation for surviving individuals.
Both the Pioneer Fund and The New Century Foundation/American Renaissance have been characterized as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. AmRen is enjoying its own renaissance, as it has morphed into an advocate of white identarianism, ostensibly to avoid the negative connotations of white supremacy. As of 2016, AmRen (d/b/a the New Century Foundation) reported assets of $1.7 million and an annual income of over $344,000.
Although the Oakton-based organization has attempted to avoid the more vitriolic episodes of expressions by white supremacy groups, it became embroiled with Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute (NPI). Spencer’s group, headquartered in Arlington, was originally founded by William Regnery II through the sponsorship of his Charles Martel Society. There are some contradictory and confusing media reports about the demise of NPI due to Spencer’s handling of the organization’s finances. The last tax filing is for 2015, and it indicates income of $145,000 and compensation to Spencer of about $53,000. The tax return lists Spencer’s address as Whitefish, Montana, where it is known his mother lives. There’s a Whitefish thread involving a Jewish realtor, Spencer’s mother’s real estate, an online assault by the founder of The Stormer, and a successful lawsuit against him for $14 million brought by the real estate agent.
In March 2019, [Patrick] Casey announced the . . . formation of the American Identity Movement (AIM), simply rebranding the predecessor group. In July 2019, AIM stickers appeared in various locations in the Loudoun Street mall in Winchester, Virginia.
But there exists yet another percale to this saga in Northern Virginia. Following the Charlottesville riot in August 2017, a number of its leaders, having been identified, found that notoriety unwelcome. One organizing element was called Identity Evropa, led by Patrick Casey. He was the keynote speaker at AmRen’s annual meeting in May 2018. In March 2019, Casey announced the dissolution of Identity Evropa and formation of the American Identity Movement (AIM), simply rebranding the predecessor group. In July 2019, AIM stickers appeared in various locations in the Loudoun Street mall in Winchester, Virginia.
From pseudoscientific theories such as eugenics, to pseudo-political theories such as “master race”, to white supremacy survivalist doctrines, to “Jews will not replace us” chants, to the white bread white identarianism, ideology and hate appear to be as indestructible as the cockroach, genetically impervious to evolution and education. Their presence throughout history to the present day is, to say the least, unsettling. When will we ever learn?