American Renaissance: Fashionable Clothes, And Unfashionable Ideas
note: Proceedings of last weekend`s
be available on its site. Meanwhile, Hyatt Hotels is
reportedly rattled by the radical
campaign to deny AR a
venue. Congratulate Hyatt on supporting American
Generally, when any political group
has a conference, the participants will dress in suits
or blazers and ties. Sometimes this is
program. When the media covers these meetings, you
expect to read about the content of the conference
rather than the dress code.
There are exceptions. During the
Democratic and Republican National Conventions or a
presidential inauguration, there is often a roundup
of the outfits worn by delegates and politicians, a
la Joan River`s
commentary on the
attire worn at the
Oscars. The Washington Post has had a few
apolitical and semi-humorous pieces joking about John
seersucker suit or Jack Abramoff`s poor choice to go
Mafioso look when he pled guilty to charges of
bribery. The British National Party`s rising star Mark
Collett recently told me that the gossip pages made
quite a fuss over the
pink tie he wore at his indictment for "inciting
Yet rarely are the fashions the
only focus of a political news event.
Nevertheless, The Washington
Post`s story by Michael Laris [send him
email] on last weekend`s
American Renaissance conference, although not in the
Style section, seemed to care exclusively about
what the participants were wearing. [Promoting
`Preservation` Of Whites in Suit and Tie] Mr.
Laris—who dressed casually, but respectably, in a spread
collar, blue button-down shirt, chinos, and a pair of
driving moccasins—left the conference half way through
the first day of speeches. His piece was published
before the conference`s conclusion.
Laris opens up by noting that the
dress code of the AR Conference states
"Gentlemen will wear jackets and ties to all conference
events." The only quote that AR`s founder and
president Jared Taylor is allowed in the entire article
is his typically charming and humorous response to Laris`
inquiry about the attire: "I don`t want an event I
sponsor to be characterized by slovenliness. In a
society of considerable ugliness, that`s one thing we
Laris went on about how the
participants wore their "their Saturday best" and
quotes various critics of AR about what this
signified. One protestor said "they are attempting to
be respectable and appear intelligent." He quoted
another protestor as claiming that "donning nice
clothes is just a smarter tactic than wearing `your
robes and your hoods.`"
Nowhere in Laris` article did he
even mention the name of a speaker. Of the
six speakers not mentioned, one was a prominent U.K.
Griffin), two are professors (Andrew
J. Philippe Rushton), two are acclaimed authors (Dan Roodt and
Guillaume Faye), and one is a lawyer (Sam G.
In other words, they are all people
used to wearing coats and ties.
Mr. Laris did manage to find the
space to feature a quote from former Klan leader David
Duke—who himself has been
described as having traded, "a white sheet for a
coat and tie"—although he was not a sponsor or a
speaker at the conference.
The implication of Laris` article
was clear: were it not for the "smarter tactic"
of the dress code, all the participants at the
conference would dress like
Larry the Cable Guy, if not in
I attended the AR conference as a
journalist. For what its worth, the vast majority of the
attendees seemed used to dressing up, certainly as much
as at any other conference I`ve been to.
Of course, these first
impressions are not always right. So I actually talked
to dozens of attendees. The majority of them were
professionals or academics, intelligent, and friendly.
This should not be news to anyone
who knows anything about AR. Even their harshest
critics acknowledge that Jared Taylor and his followers
are not a bunch of rednecks and yahoos, but smart and
educated individuals. Left wing columnist and
perpetual Peter Brimelow
denouncer Max Blumenthal has
described Taylor as "an
incredibly articulate, friendly fellow …who also happens
to be avowed white supremacist."
The Southern Poverty Law Center
calls Taylor a "modern-day version of the
refined but racist colonialist of old" and called
the conferences "well-attended,
suit-and-tie affairs that reflect his international
usually easy to dismiss a racist message when it is
crude or sensationalistic, but less so if it takes the
guise of a well-researched, carefully thought out
assessment of differences between races. The type of
genteel racism that American Renaissance
promotes seems on the surface almost reasonable
The Washington Post`s Laris
also discussed the attire of the few demonstrators
picketing the AR conference: "jeans, jackets and
sometimes face masks."
This was definitely an
understatement. The first day there were maybe twenty
protestors, all wearing all black clothes, black
bandannas and masks covering their faces (not much
from Klan hoods) with signs like, "Stop Racism,"
"Change your name. You`re still the KKK." and
"F— Off Nazi Scum and Die." For some reason, the
latter sign did not get a mention in The Post
The second day, there were half a
college students. They weren`t all in black, but
they covered their faces with bandannas and had many
punk rock band patches sewed on to their clothes.
Caring about style almost as much
as Mr. Laris, I asked the protestors if they thought
that they were hurting their cause by dressing up like
homeless bohemians. (I did so as press. All the
participants followed the police`s request to not engage
the protestors.) Of course they weren`t, one replied:
"We`ve received very favorable
This brings us to why we were
graced with Mr. Laris` fashion insights in the first
Now, it is very plausible that he
simply does not get paid by the hour and wanted an angle
that allowed him to skip most of the conference and get
home in time to watch the Olympics.
But, at the risk of seeming to
suffer from what Richard Hofstadter called "The
Paranoid Style of American Politics," I think
there was an ulterior motivation.
MSM hit piece on AR would start off by saying
how the SPLC calls them a
hate group. It would caricature a few views of the
speakers and maybe take a
quote like Phillipe Rushton`s "it`s more brain or
more penis. You can`t have everything,"
out of context while ignoring his
large and impressive body of work. Then it would
give Jared Taylor a few sentences to respond, where he
always seems very reasonable.
The problem with that is that, if
the MSM article actually talked about what was said at
the conference, and mentioned the many academics and
professionals there, even if they were misrepresented as
"xenophobic," "extremist," or "fascist,"
lots of readers would still be intrigued by the
Through the providential gift of
the internet, these readers may
Google American Renaissance and realize that
MSM smear was completely mendacious. They may then
subscribe to AR, check out its daily
news updates—and maybe even its link to VDARE.COM!
Now of course, there were some
people at the conference whose views I would consider
extreme. Although I didn`t talk to any, I wouldn`t be
surprised if there were a few rubes who didn`t go to the
same cotillion as Michael Laris and weren`t used to
wearing a jacket and tie.
Yet that can be said about any
movement. For every Jesse Jackson, there is a
Malik Zulu Shabazz. Bill Kristol has
Meir Kahane, and the Sierra Club has the
Earth Liberation Front. In fact, I`m sure even
Morris Dees would have been embarrassed by the
protestors outside the Hyatt had The Post
actually accurately reported what they were wearing and
But this doesn`t happen, because
the political and media establishment supports their
The Left is never forced to
apologize for or denounce their extremists, nor does
past political activity make them pariahs, nor have
newspapers tried to find the
six degrees of separation between their leaders and
a few nutballs (though some conservatives have
attempted to fill this gap).
If there is any lesson you can
learn from Mr. Laris` article besides that you shouldn`t
wear madras after Labor Day, it is that the
Establishment Media will ignore the intelligent and
reasonable people on the politically incorrect side,
while presenting that the left`s extremists as
intelligent and reasonable.
At the AR conference, a
Jewish participant told me a
Murray Rothbard anecdote to explain why he didn`t
care that he might possibly be in the same room as some
The late, great free-market
economist was once at a Libertarian Party convention in
1970s. A distressed friend said to him, "Oh my
God! There are Nazis at this conference."
"There`s always one,"
"What, a Nazi?" his friend
The next time we fret about a few
loonies or extremists destroying our cause and
movements, we should consider why their presence hasn`t
destroyed our opponent`s.
Alexander Hart (email
him) is a conservative
journalist. He says he does not consider himself a
white nationalist, but is sympathetic to many of their
concerns, especially the threat that mass immigration
poses to the future of America and the West.