Richard Spencer Was My High-School Classmate - 2018-10-26
On December 17, 2007, the libertarian magazine Reason held a Christmas bash—a "Very Special, Very Secular Christmas Party"—at its office in Washington, D.C. The guest of honor, the late Atlantic book critic Christopher Hitchens, tugged liberally on his drink and gave a speech about how the holiday season was oppressive ("like living in fucking North Korea"). Then near the height of his powers as an anti-theist pamphleteer, Hitchens led the crowd in a tuneless rendition of Tom Lehrer's "A Christmas Carol," before slipping away and leaving the guests to the open bar and the mistletoe.
Among those guests was a figure from my past. I had not seen Richard Spencer in more than 10 years. He was not yet known as our generation's most prominent white supremacist. I remembered him as my eighth-grade-chemistry lab partner and high-school classmate. We spotted each other and walked closer, circling uncertainly for a few seconds, before he spoke my name and confirmed that a wormhole had indeed opened from late-1990s North Dallas.
Spencer must have sensed my surprise (I would have sooner expected to see our gym teacher at a Washington magazine party). He told me he had blossomed intellectually since high school. Then he asked me what I thought of Hitchens's fulminations against God. I had no interesting opinion on the subject. But Spencer did.