In what, bizarrely, may only be the third or fourth most interesting piece of news to break on Tuesday afternoon, the Washington Post reports that the founder of a website known to publish prominent white nationalists recently attended a birthday bash for Larry Kudlow this weekend as an invited guest at the Trump adviser’s home.
Peter Brimelow is the man behind VDare, a virulently anti-immigrant outfit he founded in 1999 that the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as a hate site and has, of course, become a favorite of the alt-right. (Sample headline: “Charlottesville After A Year: Repression Of Unite The Right Rally Just The Beginning—Can Historic America Nation Survive?”) The site became a landing pad for John Derbyshire after he got booted from the National Review for calling himself a “mild and tolerant racist.” (You’re not supposed to say the quiet part out loud.) It publishes Pat Buchanan, whose nativism sort of presaged this whole Trump thing. It obsesses over the pronouncements of frothing anti-Mexico shrieker Anne Coulter, and has a loving devotion to the work of retro white nationalist Sam Francis. In 2016, the post notes, Brimelow told the Harvard Crimson that VDare “certainly publish[es] a few writers I would regard as ‘white nationalist’ in that they stand up for whites just as Zionists, black nationalists do for Jews, blacks, etc.”
Anyway, you get the flavor.
For the record, Brimelow says he does not identify as a white nationalist (mmmmmmm), and before his career in white identity politics, he apparently ran in mainstream conservative circles writing for outlets like the National Review and Dow Jones—which is apparently how he and Kudlow know one another. The former CNBC host, who now serves as the chair of Donald Trump’s National Economic Council, told the Post that he and Brimelow had been friendly for years, but somehow, his views on immigration and race just … never came up. Per WaPo:
Kudlow said Tuesday that Brimelow was an invited guest to his birthday party at his Connecticut home and has been someone he has known “forever,” going back to their work in financial journalism. Kudlow expressed regret when he was described details of Brimelow’s promotion of white nationalists on Vdare.com.
“If I had known this, we would never have invited him,” Kudlow said. “I’m disappointed and saddened to hear about it.”
Kudlow said that Brimelow’s views on immigration and race are “a side of Peter that I don’t know, and I totally, utterly disagree with that point of view and have my whole life. I’m a civil rights Republican.”
Kudlow said Brimelow, who also lives in Connecticut, has been “coming to my dinner parties for years,” but said “none of this other stuff has ever come up.”
Making all of this extra awkward: The White House just fired a speechwriter for attending a conference full of white nationalists, where he spoke on a panel with Brimelow.
Now, Kudlow has, for all his faults, always been a pretty staunch pro-immigration voice in Republican circles. Nobody really believes he’s some sort of crypto white nationalist.
So, what to make of all this?
One possibility is that this is all a very on-the-nose demonstration of how the rich-guy wing of the GOP isn’t especially turned off by rank racism and is even comfortable working with white nationalists if it means they get to nab some sweet tax cuts.
The other possibility is that Kudlow is actually being sincere and didn’t realize that his old buddy long ago dove head first into Bigot Lake. As Bloomberg’s Justin Fox put it:
One more thing
If you think Slate’s work matters, become a Slate Plus member. You’ll get exclusive members-only content and a suite of great benefits—and you’ll help secure Slate’s future.Join Slate Plus