Evan McLaren, who played a key role in the American white supremacist “alt-right” movement and participated in a deadly fascist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 made a surprising statement Thursday, abandoning his past racist and anti-Semitic activism. published.
“I am not and will never be far-fetched again,” McLaren wrote in a statement published on Substack. “My hatred for conservatism and the political right is total. I reject and reject my past actions, ideas and associations.”
HuffPost spoke to McLaren on the phone on Thursday morning as he left for work from his new home in Norway. He confirmed that the statement was authentic. This makes him one of the most high-profile defectors from the right-wing extremism in recent memory.
In his statement, McLaren, 37, said he was sorry for his white nationalist activism – which he described as “a desperate, silly mistake, harmful to others, to himself and to society” – but added that they do not expect, and are not seeking salvation of any kind.
“I apologize to all who were affected in any way by my past activities,” he wrote in a Substack statement. “However, the main purpose of this statement is not to apologize. I do not realistically expect to improve my public reputation to the extent that it meaningfully exists, or to fix the rifts with those in the For those whom I have set aside. I do not expect or expect to be forgiven.”
In 2017 McLaren was named executive director of the National Policy Institute, a racist think tank – funded by an inclusive millionaire – that sought to give white supremacism an intellectual veneer so that explicit ethnicism in the mainstream Republican Party was better addressed. can be folded.
At the NPI, McLaren was the right-hand man of the group’s leader, Richard Spencer, and helped organize a series of events that would become a flashpoint in the rise of the so-called “alt-right”, the American fascist movement that spread online during the former president. Donald Trump’s ascent.
McLaren and Spencer were among the white men who infamously marched on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville on the night of August 11, 2017 with torches chanting “You won’t replace us!” And the Nazi slogan “Blood and Soil!”
The next day, McLaren and Spencer attended the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, the largest American white supremacist gathering in more than a generation, culminating in a neo-Nazi driving his car into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters. happened with, in which a woman died. And 19 people were injured. McLaren was arrested during the day’s events and later pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to disperse from a park after being ordered to do so by police.
“Brothers and sisters at the alt-right – this is a taste of how the tip of the spear enters our civilizational crisis,” McLaren tweeted a day after the violence in Charlottesville.
During his tenure at the NPI, McLaren frequently spoke to the media, sometimes attempting to soften the image of the alt-right.
“We are not Nazis. We are not unionists. We are not members of the KKK,” he told PenLive in 2017, weeks after marching with Nazis, neo-confederates and KKK members in Charlottesville. Dedicated to conservation. We are talking about European culture and identity.” McLaren clarified in other statements at the time that he did not consider Jewish people to be white.
In late 2017 and 2018, McLaren helped organize speaking engagements for Spencer on college campuses including Michigan State University and the University of Florida, incidents that both involved violence. Following the incident in Florida, three of Spencer’s fans were arrested after one of them pointed a gun at protesters.
Around this time, McLaren, originally from Central Pennsylvania, passed the state bar exam and was ready to begin practicing law. “Congratulations on victory!” They called the Nazi Cry “Sieg Heel!” in celebration. Tweeted using the English translation of.
But by the summer of 2018, McLaren says he had begun to become disillusioned with the NPI, an organization he described to HuffPost as “complete wreckage and a mess”. He also described Spencer as “toxic.”
McLaren resigned from the NPI in August 2018 and later moved to Norway, where, he says, he gradually began to “dissolve and think” through “white nationalism”, a movement he felt was “a movement”. Were moving nowhere and not moving anywhere.”
McLaren said his eventual rejection of white nationalism does not mean he is now a moderate conservative or a Republican. Rather, he told HuffPost, he sees white nationalism and conservatism in America as inextricably linked movements that feed on and energize each other. (In his view, this relationship has deepened since he left the right.) He calls his views leftist today.
Some of the other prominent alt-right figures involved in the Charlottesville rally later claimed to have abandoned their far-right activism. Jeff Schaep, former leader of the neo-Nazi group National Socialist Movement, and Matt Heimbach, former leader of the Traditionalist Workers’ Party, both claimed to reject white nationalism.
However, those rejections attracted intense skepticism from observers across the political spectrum, and with good reason. Evidence surfaced in the Charlottesville-related trial, suggesting that Schöpp was still involved in the movement, and Heimbach eventually appeared to drop any pretense of abandoning extremism – rebranding his hate group under a different name. Launching from, and telling a media outlet: “Do I particularly like Judaism as a religion? No.”
Over the years, McLaren has kept a low, offline profile at his new home in Norway, where he lives with his wife and child. He declined to name his employer, but said he works at a “production” job. He listens to leftist podcasts like “Majority Report” and “Some More News” and focuses his time on his family, his hobbies, and fixing his home.
McLaren said some recent events, which he did not describe in detail, forced him to break his silence on Thursday – even though, as his statement acknowledges, “It’s likely that the best move for someone who has messed up as badly as me is to just walk away and shut up.”
“People may assume that I still hold radical views or am actively involved in far-right political causes,” McLaren wrote in the statement. “I can understand, for example, if people in my local community, who have learned about me, may worry about what I am doing, whether I hold and promote extremist views. , or will I resume disruptive political activity in the future. Perhaps worse, in my daily life I occasionally meet Trump supporters, closet racists and right-wingers of various stripes who learn about and believe me That I am some kind of sympathetic fellow traveler.
McLaren’s statement ends with the hope that in the future, people who search for his name online may even deny him, after reading all the news about him.
He wrote, “My sole purpose here is that, on those occasions when someone searches Internet search results related to my name, they may also find this statement as a sign that I am a source of toxic energy.” And opinion in the past, I’m not that at least now.”