Evan McClaren, the new leader of Richard Spencer’s white nationalist think tank says his political path into far-right politics began after reading the work of Paul Gottfried — a Jewish intellectual who has been dubbed the “Moses of the alternative right.”
McClaren became executive director at the National Policy Institute this summer, taking over the role that Spencer once held and says he was “very attracted to the writings” of Gottfried as a younger man.
“I was very attracted to the writings that were published by Paul Gottfried,” McLaren told the Intercept.
Gottfried is an academic and author who has been an outspoken critic of neoconservatives in the Republican Party and coined the term “alternative right” — which Spencer later shortened to “alt-right.” While Gottfried does not call himself a white nationalist he has become — in the words of Tablet — a “philosophical lodestone” to people like McLaren and Spencer.
McLaren was so moved by reading Gottfried’s work that he drove to his office in Pennsylvania to get involved in Gottfried’s H.L. Mencken Club, named for the 20th century “free-thinker.”
It was through this club and Gottfried that McLaren would go on to meet other white nationalist leaders like Spencer — and later take over leadership at NPI.
“I knew Evan during his college years at Kenyon,” Gottfied wrote in an email to the Forward. “He then attended an early meeting of the Mencken Club but never came back. I was flabbergasted to see him evolving into some kind of white nationalist.”
Sam Kestenbaum is a contributing editor and former staff writer for the Forward. Before this, he worked for The New York Times and newsrooms in Sana, Ramallah and Beijing. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum and on Instagram at @skestenbaum .
Leader Of Richard Spencer’s White Nationalist Group Was Inspired By A Jewish Intellectual