I wasn’t expecting to have a borderline-introspective conversation with white supremacist leader Richard Spencer on Tuesday night. But a Jezebel reader spotted him on the dating app Bumble in the Dallas, Texas, area and sent me a few screenshots of his profile. So I found the guy’s number and reached out for comment: Is this really you? Are you really politically “moderate” and “vaccinated?” I needed to know.
Here are the screenshots I received in a tip:
I checked all the vitals: Photos, yes. Age, yes. Height, yes. Astrological sign, yes. Kids, yes. This really appears to be Richard Spencer, the guy who shouted “Hail, Trump!” in 2016, led the 2017 neo-Nazi march through Charlottesville in which white men chanted “Jews will not replace us,” and became the most prominent figure in the American white nationalist movement.
Upon viewing this profile, I thought, maybe this is a catfish? So I obtained Spencer’s phone number from a fellow reporter and asked him myself if this was indeed his Bumble profile. “Yes, that is I,” he responded.
“I’d appreciate your respecting my privacy. This is obviously not newsworthy. I’m simply living my life,” he texted me.
Okay, that would be a fair point if the dater in question were not a literal white supremacist leader accused of physically abusing his ex-wife, and masquerading as a random “moderate” skier who’s into electronic music on Bumble. So I said as much to him—that I thought he was being “deceptive”—and here’s what he responded:
Spencer went on to tell me that “life experience” and “intellectual rethinking” have caused him to reconsider the white nationalist views that he “embraced earlier in life.” To reiterate, this man coined the term “alt-right.” The Southern Poverty Law Center calls him “a kind of professional racist in khakis.” He was also notably punched in the face while wearing a Pepe the Frog pin in 2017.
“If you’re on a path that leads nowhere, you have to rethink things,” he told me.
When I told Spencer that I planned on publishing this conversation, because I believe it to be very valuable to the public, especially anyone around Dallas who might stumble upon this particular dating profile, he stopped responding.
Amy Spitalnick, Executive Director of Integrity First for America, said Spencer is just trying to “avoid accountability” amid a lawsuit he says has “financially crippled” him.
“He is a defendant in our lawsuit against the organizers of the Charlottesville violence. In November, he was found liable as part of a $26M jury verdict,” she said in an email. “He’s been pulling this ‘I’m a moderate now’ thing for a few years. Like with some of the other defendants, it just appears to be a way to try to avoid accountability.”
The moral of the story is: Be wary of the “moderates” on Bumble. You really just never know.