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Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer doesn’t want you to call him a Nazi: It’s ‘a historical term’

Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer wants you to know that actually, he’s not a Nazi, but a supporter of “identity politics for white Americans and for Europeans around the world” and that the ethnic cleansing he and his allies are calling for would be the “peaceful” kind

Speaking to the New York Times from on Saturday, the “alt-right” progenitor said he’s deeply worried that video of him getting punched on Friday during Donald Trump’s inauguration is going to become “the meme to end all memes.”

The Times said, “Video of the attack quickly inspired a flood of jokes and memes online, some of which set the punch to songs like ‘Born in the U.S.A.’ Jon Favreau, a former speechwriter for Barack Obama, was one of many who posted a comment.”

“I don’t care how many different songs you set Richard Spencer being punched to, I’ll laugh at every one,” Favreau said on Twitter.

Spencer feels that he is misunderstood. He told the Times that he’s not a Nazi per se, he’s just a white nationalist member of the “alt-right” who supports “peaceful ethnic cleansing.”

He prefers to steer clear of the word “Nazi” because it’s “a historical term” that is “not going to resonate today” thanks to unpleasant associations with Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 40s.

“German National Socialism is a historic movement of the past,” Spencer told the Times. “It arose at a very particular time and had particular motives and ideas and policies and styles, and those aren’t mine.”

As Raw Story has reported, however, Spencer has demonstrated his ideological bent through his “white nationalism and his targeting of professors. He notoriously held a gathering of neo-Nazis and white nationalists shortly after the election not far from the White House. Spencer’s final remarks led the crowd in a chant of ‘Hail Trump!‘ in which audience members raised their hands in a Nazi salute.”

A debate has sprung up online about the ethics of attacking a person who espouses racist policies when they are not actively engaged in violence.

Writer Matthew Pulver said on Facebook, “Racism IS violence. If you’re out here feeling a way about a neo-Nazi white supremacist catching hands, understand that anti-racist violence is defensive, aimed at stopping (or at least lessening) the ongoing, unrelenting and omnipresent violence of racism.”

He continued, “Racialized poverty is violence. Mass incarceration is violence. Institutional racism is not just mean thoughts in people’s heads; it’s violence.”

One person opposed to glorifying the attack on Spencer was longtime Captain America comic author Nick Spencer, who said, “Today is difficult, but cheering violence against speech, even of the most detestable, disgusting variety, is not a look that will age well.”

In the wake of his pummeling on Friday, Spencer now says he’s reconsidering whether it’s safe to go out in public.

“I don’t think I could go out to an inauguration event without bodyguards or a protest or a conference,” he said. “I am more worried about going out to dinner on an average Tuesday because these kind of people are roaming around.”

“I’m going to have to start really thinking about operational security,” he said in a Periscope video entitled “The Assault on Me.”

“Right now, I’m in a safe space,” Spencer assured viewers before lamenting that since the fall of 2016, U.S. liberals have turned to “European-style anti-fascism,” which he called, “the kind with baseball bats.”

“We need to take very seriously the notion that anti-fascists are going to just scream at us, they’re going to physically attack us,” he said.

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David Ferguson: David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.