Richard Spencer, the white supremacist who gained fame over the past several years as an advocate for a white ethnostate and “peaceful ethnic cleansing” (and for taking a highly memeable punch) has always been a virulent racist with horrific views. But Spencer has repeatedly benefitted from the public perception of him—created by irresponsible media fluff pieces—as a suave, sophisticated intellectual. That’s why Lyz Lenz’ HuffPost piece about Spencer’s alleged abuse of his ex-wife Nina Kouprianova is so important—it pulls back that curtain, revealing Spencer as a sputtering, rage-filled abuser who can’t control his angry outbursts, even when speaking to a reporter.
According to Kouprianova’s affidavit in her and Spencer’s divorce proceedings, over the course of their eight-year marriage Spencer abused her physically, financially, and emotionally. Many of these claims are backed up by evidence, including emails, text messages, and hours of recordings of Spencer screaming at and threatening Kouprianova.
In the apartment, at the small table that’s littered with small dinosaur figurines and stuffed animals, [Kouprianova] plays me some of her audio recordings of Spencer — until my hands are shaking and I bite the inside of my mouth, tasting blood, trying not to cry. Kouprianova sits still, her eyes deep and dark and emotionless. She tells me about him pushing her into the stove when she was pregnant, dragging her down the stairs by her arms. She plays me recordings of him screaming at her while the children sob in the background. Telling her he will “Fucking break [her] nose,” telling her to go kill herself, to jump off a bridge.
Another deeply disturbing aspect of the story is that this abuse seems to have occurred regularly in front of Spencer and Kouprianova’s children:
In another video, he berates the 65-year-old babysitter, who testified against Spencer in the custody hearing.
“Do you think you are not stupid and ugly?” he says. She tries to record on her phone, but he snatches it out of her hand. The baby is in his arms screaming.
“[You are a] fucking sub-mediocre human being,” he says.
“[A] fucking moron.”
In the background, a small, scared voice calls out, “Papa, stop.” He doesn’t stop.
Lenz did interview Spencer about these claims; he admitted to sending threatening and abusive texts, and conceded that he was the person on the recordings. He also acknowledged that he sometimes got “frustrated” by his wife, but continued to blame her for that frustration. He accused her of being “manipulative” in her decision to record him, and cast himself as the real victim in their relationship. He asked repeatedly why, if his abuse was so bad, his wife took so long to leave him.
Kouprianova is now living with the couple’s two children, without a car or a job, in the town of Whitefish, MT. Spencer has had supervised visits with the children since a custody hearing, but will begin unsupervised visits with them soon. In a tweet, Lenz wrote that she hears Kouprianova will soon be evicted from her apartment.
“Dapper white nationalist,” which is how Spencer was described by Mother Jones, is an an oxymoron. It should have been obvious all along that Spencer was a disgusting human being, something that was clear to those who have spent years admonishing the media for their irresponsible coverage of him.
It’s important to note that, while Kouprianova isn’t innocent—she wrote for many of the same publications as Spencer, and shared many of his views—her politics don’t excuse his abuse. And just as importantly, her documentation of Spencer’s behavior helps correct the record. This man is not some kind of suave curiosity or urbane maverick; he is a monster.