In recent decades, statistics indicate that Northern Virginia has become home to reliably liberal voters. In the past three presidential elections, heavily populated counties like Fairfax, Arlington, and Falls Church City have led the historically conservative state to support the Democratic candidates. With this in mind, it seems unlikely that these counties would also play host to a disproportionate number of right-wing hate groups. Nevertheless, the Southern Poverty Law Center, or SPLC, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization, lists nine hate groups which have headquarters in Northern Virginia.
What defines a “hate group?” According to the SPLC, “All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”
Here are three of the most influential of these organizations in Northern Virginia.
The National Policy Institute
With the name, “the National Policy Institute,” or “NPI,” it is not unreasonable for one to assume that this organization is nothing more than the standard think tank. The location of their headquarters is similarly unrevealing, as the organization rents out two floors above Blüprint Chocolatiers in Arlington, Virginia.
Their actions and ideals indicate something very different.
In the “About” section of their website, it states, “The National Policy Institute is an independent organization dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States and around the world.”
While this in itself may not justify the Southern Poverty Law Center’s description of the NPI as a white nationalist organization, one does not have to look any further than the president and director of the National Policy Institute, Richard Spencer, to justify this classification.
Spencer has become a figurehead for the alt-right movement. In fact, Spencer is often credited with coining the term “alt-right” himself. In addition to his work as president of the NPI, Spencer has helped establish the Radix Journal and AltRight.com, two sources of the alt-right perspective online.
In an alt-right gathering celebrating the election of President Donald Trump, Spencer was met with applause and Nazi salutes after chanting, “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!”
The controversial figure is primarily focused on immigration. Rejecting the view of America as the culmination of many different cultures, Spencer argues that the United States was established by people of European descent and that multiculturalism detracts from the country.
In a National Policy Institute column, published in February of 2014, Spencer writes, “Immigration is a kind of proxy war—and maybe a last stand—for White Americans, who are undergoing a painful recognition that, unless dramatic action is taken, their grandchildren will live in a country that is alien and hostile.”
The National Policy Institute has used its platform to present these opinions on political and social issues. From online articles to real life meet ups, the NPI has had a significant influence in cultivating support for white nationalist ideologies.
Public Advocate of the United States
Another local hate group resides right here, in Falls Church. Located on Leesburg Pike, The Public Advocate of the United States, also known as Public Advocate, has worked for over 35 years to promote often extreme forms of religious conservatism. The SPLC cites their continued work to limit gay rights as the justification for their classification as a hate group.
“Since its founding in 1981, Public Advocate has grown into a dedicated group of young conservatives in Washington, D.C., with a network of volunteers and supporters nationwide,” the Public Advocate website states.
The Public Advocate of the United States uses their website to post conservative news, typically posting actions of those on the far left of the political spectrum and using it as justification for the general opposition of liberal ideals. Some of their most recent articles include, “Crazed Liberals Upset With Trump’s 59+ Pro-family Picks for Federal Courts,” and, “Disgusting College Student Says ‘Ok To Kill 2 year old child.’”
They also regularly report on cases of molestation in which a male adult has molested a young boy. In doing so, they are actively trying to encourage stereotypes that conflate molestation with being gay. This is generally representative of their attempt to present specific pieces of information that persuades their audience to support their views.
In addition to their articles, they commonly encourage their audience to communicate their views with members of Congress. The site provides a list of those in Congress and their communication details, urging visitors of the site to send messages demanding a reduction in gay rights.
Public Advocate has organized many political demonstrations in Washington, D.C. About a month ago, Eugene Delgaudio, the founder and president of the nonprofit, gathered a group of supporters in front of the White House to deliver 3,000 individually signed Christmas cards to the president, expressing thanks to Trump for his first year as president.
The organization may express some standard conservative opinions, but the SPLC designates it as a hate group due to its continued work to decrease public support of gay rights and its devotion to the discrimination of a specific group of people.
ProEnglish, currently based in Washington, D.C., was initially located in our own Falls Church City. The organization is described by the SPLC as an “Anti-immigrant” hate group, dedicated to the removal of other languages in the United States, including eliminating bilingual education and exclusively having government documents and voting ballots in English.
“We work through the courts and in the court of public opinion to defend English’s historic role as America’s common, unifying language, and to persuade lawmakers to adopt English as the official language at all levels of government,” their website reads.
Their primary goal is to make English the official language of the United States. This may seem reasonable, considering it is the primary language used, but the title is more than simply symbolic. This would eliminate people’s right to demand government services in other languages. In 2017, they expressed support of English Language Unity Act, which would have established English as the official language of the U.S., but it did not make it out of committee.
ProEnglish has well-documented ties with white nationalism. The former executive director, Robert Vandervoort, has prior experience as the head of a local chapter of the American Renaissance, a racist online magazine. In 2012, the organization criticized a Coca-Cola super bowl ad that showcased people of different ethnicities, while playing “America, the Beautiful” in the background. ProEnglish encouraged people to complain to the company, fueling a larger, xenophobic response to the advertisement. Regardless of intentions, they have furthered support for white nationalism and xenophobia.