The name, Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas (FMI), suggests a gathering of libertarians or free-marketeers. According to the group, FMI aims “TO EDUCATE THE PUBLIC ABOUT THE FREEDOMS GUARANTEED BY THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND PEOPLE WHO AND ORGANIZATIONS WHICH STRIVE TO USURP SAID FREEDOMS” (capitals in original).
However, the Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas is rooted in a “tradition” that sees free market capitalism and socialism alike at odds with its core values – a vision that would subordinate individualist economics and egalitarian principles to the dictates of white nationalism and national socialism.
The group is at the cutting edge of attempts to carve a space for these vicious ideologies on college campuses – in particular, by bringing to together a team of attorneys dedicated to defending white nationalist and national socialist speakers.
The organization is registered as a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation headquartered in Clinton Township, Michigan. IRS Form 990s from 2016 show that the organization has a small budget, but they have an abundancy of bigotry on the board of directors list.
The FMI board of directors includes prominent white nationalists, including Kyle Bristow, Jason Robb, William D. Johnson, Richard Spencer, Mike Enoch, and several others. These connections place FMI at the intersection of white nationalists of yesteryear and a new generation that aims to bring about what their forefathers could not – a whites-only nation-state in the territory of the United States.
FMI and Kyle Bristow
Kyle Bristow is listed as executive director of the Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas. The principle of Bristow Law PLLC, Bristow has become a leader in pressing college campuses to open their platforms to white nationalists.
Though still in his early thirties, Kyle Bristow has a long pedigree of white nationalist activism. While president of the Michigan State University chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, (YAF), Bristow organized numerous bigoted publicity stunts, including ”Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day” (cancelled), a “straight power” rally, and a “Koran desecration contest.” Bristow also invited notorious white nationalist leaders to MSU, including Nick Griffin of the British National Party, and Jared Taylor of American Renaissance. The latter invitation led to Bristow’s resignation from the MSU chapter of YAF, before the event was eventually cancelled.
After graduating, Bristow attended law school at the University of Toledo. During his time there, he also contributed articles to The Citizens Informer, the tabloid of the white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens. Among his columns, he wrote that “Liberalism promotes sexual perversion—especially homosexuality and miscegenation—which debases the White race. Neither homosexuals nor interracial couples, after all, produce White children.”
Following in the footsteps of national socialists like William Pierce and Harold Covington, Bristow leapt into writing race-war fantasy pulp-fiction. In 2010, while in law school, he self-published White Apocalypse, a novel frothing with violent, white nationalist revenge fantasies against Jewish professors, Latinx and Native American activists, and anti-racist groups.
At the end of 2013, Bristow borrowed from the playbook of David Duke. He teamed with an activist from the American Freedom Party to found The Center for the Advancement of Occidental Culture, “to advance and defend Western civilization,” and opposing alleged discrimination against European Americans. Bristow has also written for the white nationalist journal, The Occidental Quarterly.
On March 26, 2016, he joined with several other white nationalist leaders to launch the Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas.
FMI, Jason Robb, and the Lineage of White Nationalism
The Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas, while a recent formation, is linked unambiguously to white nationalism’s past through the person of board member Jason Robb – principle at the Harrison, Arkansas-based Robb Law Firm, PLCC, and son of Thom Robb, the former National Director (Grand Wizard) of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and, later, the Knights Party.
In Blood and Politics, IREHR’s Leonard Zeskind recounts that the elder Robb took over the Knights of the KKK after leader Don Black went to prison in 1982. Black served time for violating the Neutrality Act following a failed attempt to overthrow the Caribbean nation-state of Dominica. Black and a coterie of Klansmen and neo-Nazis sought to set up a puppet government and establish a paramilitary base from which to launch U.S. operations. Black had taken over Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in 1980 from its founder, neo-Nazi David Duke.
As Zeskind notes, Black’s failed putsch was the first clear action by the vanguardist wing of burgeoning white nationalism, those in the movement eschewing attempts to build a mass base in lieu of recruiting an Aryan elite dedicated to armed revolution. David Duke, conversely, represented the movement’s mainstreaming tendency, dressing up white nationalism in something other than Klan robes to gain a larger base for cultural change and electioneering.
In addition to being a Klan leader, and following in Duke’s mainstreaming footsteps, Thom Robb is a Christian Identity “minister.” This pseudo-theology holds that white, Northern Europeans, are the actual Israelites of the Bible, Jews are descended from Satan and people of color are a pre-Adamic (before Adam) “mud race” – the “beasts of the fields” in the Book of Genesis. Robb has promoted his “theology” through the Christian Revival Center, Thom Robb Ministries and regular “Faith and Freedom Conferences” at the Soldiers of the Cross Bible Camp near Harrison, Arkansas. While a mainstreamer himself, Robb’s brand of Identity led to an alliance in the 1980s and 1990s with vanguardist Richard Butler of the neo-Nazi Church of Jesus Christ Christian-Aryan Nations – the Hayden Lake, Idaho-based group that helped birth the terrorist underground, The Order, in mid-1980s.
In Jason Robb, the forbidden fruit of bigotry never really fell from the tree. Jason has promoted his father’s events, served as attorney for the Christian Revival Center and Knights Party, and wrote in a 2009 “Happy Thanksgiving” message that, “We are so thankful that we have a God that has protected His people, Israel, which we know to be today the English, Celtic, Germanic, and all the ‘traditional’ European countries (or better yet the White Race), and continues to bless our people.” Putting it all together in a December 31, 2008 blog entry, Jason Robb declared,
“[T]he future years to do not appear bright when we see the quick change our beloved country is going through such as sodomite rights, millions of illegal aliens flooding into our borders, legal aliens being allowed at a number rate (sic) from nonwhite countries, Christianity being destroyed through the false teachings of Judeo-Christianity, the continual destruction of state rights, etc. However, we as White nationalists have a duty to continue to sound the alarm to our White brothers and sisters of the betrayal of our elected leaders. We have to continue to be involved politically such as being involved in our local politics, passing out literature, and supporting White Nationalist organizations.”
For Identity believers, “Judeo-Christianity” is polluted by its association with the “Judeo” part, a theme Jason expressed in a September 2008 blog entry:
“It seems as the traditional church continues to accept Judaism, the church will also accept its anti-Christian teaching…Unfortunately, with Judaism now being promoted by so called Christians, generations are being raised with the belief that race-mixing is accepted by the Bible…American Family Association is one of those groups that says a lot of things that traditional Christians believes (sic). However, it is the teaching of race-mixing and their support of whites adopting non-whites that is so incidious (sic).”
While vehemently at odds with even the Christian Right, Jason Robb’s mainstreaming proclivities led him to boast in 2008 that “The Knights Party has joined with the American Family Association to boycott McDonald’s” for “support[ing] the homosexual agenda” – the very AFA he assailed as promoting “Judaism” and “race-mixing.” A November 2009 blog entry urged readers to “listen here to David Barton, president of WallBuilders, which explains of (sic) the notion that America is not a Christian nation lies in a faulty definition of what it means to be a Christian nation.” Robb’s pandering to the Christian Right occurs repeatedly in his blog, particularly when he seeks to bash the LGBT community or portray America as a Christian nation facing religious persecution. Jason used his law firm Facebook page to urge followers to “Go vote and vote Trump,” later declaring inauguration day “Trump day.”
Like his father, however, the younger Robb has also maintained relations with vanguard-types, using his Robb Law Firm PLCC Facebook page to announce his attendance at a 2017 conference hosted by former Knights of the KKK leader Don Black’s national socialist group, Stormfront.
FMI, William D. Johnson, and the American Freedom Party
The Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas is also tied to white nationalism-past through the person of William D. Johnson, billed by the group as a “licensed California, Colorado, and Arizona Attorney…of the California-based Johnson & Associates.” FMI fails to mention, however, that Johnson has a long history of promoting white nationalism that continues through the vehicle of the American Freedom Party.
In 1985, under the pseudonym “James O. Pace,”Johnson wrote the book Amendment to the Constitution: Averting the Decline and Fall of America. Johnson, as Pace, declared that our “changing racial composition” had resulted in “increased illiteracy rates, poverty rates, crime rates, infant mortality rates, physical and mental defects, and decreased production levels.” He continued that this led to a change in “standards of conduct,” resulting in “white Americans bear[ing] fewer children than minorities and incidents of miscegenation.” Arguing that “people should…have the right to maintain or return to a society comprised only of its own people,” Johnson advocated “the repeal of the fourteenth amendment” and “returning the citizenship status of nonwhites to that of the Dred Scott era, that is, nonwhites would again become non-citizens.” Dred Scott v Sandford (1857) was the infamous slavery-confirming Supreme Court decision in which Chief Justice Roger B. Taney wrote that members of the “African race” had “for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect, and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.”
In an updated version, Johnson offered what became known among white nationalists as the “Pace Amendment” to the U.S. Constitution:
“No person shall be a citizen of the United States unless he is a non-Hispanic white of the European race, in whom there is no ascertainable trace of Negro blood, nor more than one-eighth Mongolian, Asian, Asia Minor, Middle Eastern, Semitic, Near Eastern, American Indian, Malay or other non-European or nonwhite blood, provide that Hispanic whites…may be citizens if, in addition to meeting the aforesaid ascertainable trace and percentage tests, they are, in appearance, indistinguishable from Americans whose ancestral home is the British Isles or Northwestern Europe.”
Christian Identity leader Dan Gayman proclaimed the book “a bold plan for the survival of America;” Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler dubbed it a “truly great” work that “has lain dormant among the intelligentsia of our nation for many decades.”
Johnson’s American Freedom party has continued this trajectory in only slightly tempered language. Boasting offices in six states, Croatia and Canada, the group declares,
“It’s time to break up the Democrat-Republican monopoly and return America to Americans. It’s time to regain our freedom by supporting the American Freedom Party! The American Freedom Party is a party that represents the interests and issues of European-Americans and all Americans who support our mission… The American Freedom Party (AFP)–formerly The American Third Position Party (A3P) – supports the right to keep and bear arms. Emancipate yourself from the anti-Western Democrat and Republican parties. Join a Nationalist Party that puts America first, The American Freedom Party!”
“Third position” refers to an ideology that puts forward ethnic/racial nationalism as an alternative to both socialism and capitalism, the former criticized for egalitarian and multicultural goals and the later for emphasizing profits and individualism over racial solidarity. National socialism is an example of such a view. Other AFP board members include anti-Semite Kevin McDonald, and Canadian white nationalist Paul Fromm, a sometimes speaker at Thom Robb’s Faith and Freedom Conferences. The American Freedom Party’s “platform” continues,
“White Americans should push back!…We need a Nationalist Party interested in defending our borders, preserving our language and promoting our culture. The American Freedom Party is not beholden to foreign governments, special interest groups, nor Wall Street. The American Freedom Party is for America First!…Militant feminism and radical homosexuality have been foisted on the American people against their will. It’s time to …return to a harmonious and positive balance between men and women that benefits society and both nuclear and extended families… Return to Americans their traditional right of freedom of association, including freedom in racial matters, along with the abolishment of all forms of government- and corporate-mandated racial discrimination and racial preferences, such as affirmative action, quotas, and all forms of ‘sensitivity training.’”
FMI and Richard Spencer
If Jason Robb and William Johnson anchor FMI in white nationalism’s past, others fasten the effort firmly in the muck of modern white nationalism and national socialism.
FMI board member, Richard Spencer, has become perhaps the best-known white nationalist in recent years. Spencer heads the National Policy Institute (NPI) and was an early promoter of the so-called “Alt-Right,” a framework he has used in an attempt to bring a variety of reactionary and white nationalist tendencies outside the conservative mainstream under a common umbrella. Spencer has also been actively engaged in speaking on college campuses around the country.
If Spencer is a new voice of white nationalism, he too, is connected to the old, shown here with paleoconservatives Pat Buchanan and Paul Gottfried before making the leap to NPI.
Spencer’s white nationalism is wedded to an anti-Semitism, national socialism-style, which cast him into alliances with the movement’s most crass and vulgar racists, including Andrew Anglin of The Daily Stormer.
In defense of Spencer, national socialist Anglin took up a concerted harassment campaign against Jewish and other human rights activists in Whitefish, Montana in 2016. Spencer has also promoted Kevin McDonald as a “thinker” on things Jewish. A former psychology professor, McDonald argues that Jews are driven to destroy western societies and praised Anders Brevik, the racist who in 2011 massacred seventy-seven people at a Norwegian youth camp. McDonald also serves a leader of the American Freedom Party. Spencer made his own anti-Semitism clear in a podcast exchange with Anglin and Mike Enoch (also an FMI board member):
“The reason why Jews exist is because they have a sense of themselves and because they’re a little bit paranoid…[T]he Jews are really in our heads… But we’re connected with the Jews in this way that we kind of both need each other in some terrible sense…They really are deep in our psyche. I don’t think we should underestimate the power… we can’t underestimate their power and the degree to which they really have embedded themselves in our civilization and our psyche. Like it is a powerful thing, we’re not dealing with Mexicans, we’re not dealing with a Chinese civilization…The Jews, it’s a much more painful relationship… It’s a very tragic thing”
Cameron Padgett has been a point person for Richard Spencer, booking his appearances at a number of colleges. Padgett, who fancies himself a libertarian, a conservative, a Christian, and a free speech advocate, has also identifies himself as “Identitarian” – a word widely used in white nationalist circles that refers to a political identity consciously constructed around being white. On his Twitter feed, Padgett has expressed ideas consonant with white nationalism.
FMI and Mike Enoch (aka Mike Penovich)
Another FMI board member is Mike Enoch, the pseudonym of Mike Penovich, an anti-Semite and white nationalist who runs The Right Stuff blog and The Daily Shoah podcast.
As the Southern Poverty Law Center documented, Penovich declared at a 2017 Traditionalist Worker Party event in Kentucky that,
“We are not going to back down to this Jewish, cultural Marxist brainwashing that you have been indoctrinated with in order to be useful idiots for the systems of international finance, capitalism and war… That’s why you are here fighting us who simply want to stand for working class white people, our rights, and our nation.”
FMI, Ryan Sorba, and California Young Americans for Freedom
Finally, there is Ryan Sorba. Sorba boasts among his accomplishments serving as chair of the California Young Americans for Freedom, and serving in a campus leadership position at the Richard and Helen DeVos Freedom Center at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute –an actual conservative and “free-market” organization.
Sorba’s blog promotes a libertarian economics at odds with his national socialist FMI compatriots. While he may not embrace their national socialism, he has joined them in other forms of bigotry. The “national security” section of his blog, for instance, reprints an article casting Islam as a religion with which America will always be at war:
“Since the days of Muhammad, a murderer who raided caravans, slaying and robbing those he found, Islam has been expanding through assiduous brutality… Our conflict with Islam is not the result of anything we do, per se, or any ‘foreign policy’ we currently have. It is the result of Islamic dictum, from Muhammad… While we may not be at war with individual Muslims who do not engage in hostile acts against us, the ideology of Islam is inherently incompatible with, and hostile to, American concepts of liberty and governance. As such we are, and ever will be, in contention with ‘Islam’ as an ideology.”
Sorba also authored viscous attacks on the LGBTQ+ community. In his self-published manuscript, The Born Gay Hoax, he asserts that
“My goal here has not been to prove that sodomy is immoral just yet; although I am convinced that it is, but rather to refute one of its common justifications. The morality of sodomy can never be defended by any appeal to nature, but only by an appeal to moral rules. Nature alone can never provide us with those. Pro‐sodomy activists will have to find another way to make their case.”
Of most concern here, however, is that Sorba brags that he has “founded or substantially helped” form campus “conservative clubs” on forty-two university and college campuses in eleven states. That is, despite being at the heart of an effort to revive white nationalism and national socialism on college campus, Sorba appears to have at a foot stuck firmly in the world of campus conservatism.
Other board members include Tennessee white nationalist talk-show host James Edwards, Augustus Invictus, Brett A. Klimkowsky, and Bryan Reo (who clerks for Bristow at his firm).