The Slatest

A Brief Conversation With White Nationalist Peter Brimelow at CPAC

Staffers bring out a podium at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference.
Staffers bring out a podium at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference.
Saul Loeb/Getty Images

Peter Brimelow is the founder of the white nationalist site VDare and a former editor at National Review. He was touring CPAC’s exhibition hall with his wife, Lydia, on Friday evening. This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

What are your thoughts on the conference so far?

Peter Brimelow: I’ve only just gotten here, so I missed yesterday. My point of view is that the crowd is obviously pro-immigration reform. The organization, of course, is on the other side because it’s controlled by its donors. But the crowd is not, so that is great.

Were you satisfied by the amount of conversation on the main stage about immigration?

Of course not. We were just saying it should be the main issue and they should be having lots of panels and discussions on the different aspects. Instead they have one little room and it’s reportedly just on DACA. Well, that room was packed. Lydia was there. [Weekly Standard executive editor] Fred Barnes and the panel he was in were talking about the Trump effect. And when they got to immigration, the crowd that was there immediately started chanting “Build the Wall.” So there’s obviously tremendous enthusiasm on that issue, but it isn’t reflected by the leadership, which is typical of the Republican Party as a whole.

Some of the rhetoric seemed to focus mostly on illegal immigration. I saw a speech from Arkansas’ Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, for instance, where she was saying the wall had to be built, but also that Republicans aren’t anti-immigrant; they want people to come in legally through “the light of day.” Obviously, this is not satisfying to you.

They’re still in that phase, that’s right, but the president is not. I mean, he rightly mentioned chain migration, I saw. I watched that this morning before I came here. So he’s moved the ball quite a long way in his own weird fashion.

What label would you use to describe your views at this point?

In what sense?

I’d say you’re a white nationalist.

Our position is that VDare is a forum site. That we will publish any view as long as they’re critical of the [Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965]. Personally, I would regard myself as a civic nationalist.

Really?

Yeah, my heart is with civic nationalism, but my head is with racial nationalism. Because I think that’s the way things are going—I think the country is precipitating out on racial lines. Don’t you?

No.

That’s what the Trump voter seems to indicate. That’s an implicit white vote.

Well, yes, racial solidarity was implicitly important to many whites that voted for Trump.

People have experimented with the term identitarian and that kind of thing.

That’s more popular in Europe. In France.

I was quite happy being a paleoconservative. But we were driven out of that name because it became associated too much with hyper-Catholicism* and social conservatism. And that’s why Richard [Spencer] didn’t like it and he invented the alt-right. Now we’re sort of driven out of that because it’s too associated with him. [Former National Review columnist] John Derbyshire has a long essay on the site saying we should describe ourselves as “dissident right.” In other words, the Republican establishment is obviously corrupt. I like “right opposition” from my days arguing with student Marxists in England.

Lydia Brimelow: We’re still working on it.

*Correction, Feb. 24, 2018: “Hyper-Catholicism” was initially mistranscribed as “hyperconservatism.”