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The most prominent voice of Holocaust remembrance in the US has slammed an "alt-right" convention that took place over the weekend. In a speech, leader Richard Spencer questioned the humanity of Jews.
The US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington on Monday condemned a white nationalist conference that took place just down the road over the weekend. At the meeting, the prominent white supremacist Richard Spencer gave an anti-Semitic speech that was met with applause and Nazi salutes, as well as shouts of "Heil victory!"
"The Holocaust did not begin with killing; it began with words," the museum staff said in a statement. They added a call to "all American citizens, our religious and civic leaders, and the leadership of all branches of government to confront racist thinking and divisive hateful speech," seeming to reference President-elect Donald Trump's not having publicly distanced himself from the racist leaders and groups that support him.
The statement followed the news that federal property, the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, had been used as a venue for a conference hosted by the National Policy Institute (NPI).
NPI is a think tank known for promoting white nationalist views, and its president, Richard Spencer, has taken credit for coining the term "alt-right," a euphemism for far-right extremism in the United States. Much has been made of the term in recent days, after Donald Trump tapped Stephen Bannon to be his chief strategist. Bannon was the executive chair of Breitbart News before the 2016 presidential campaign, an outlet whose leaders have admitted that they "provide a platform" for the alt-right while denying that they espouse its views.
Outrage over Spencer's comments at the conference were still reverberating across the country on Monday, after video surfaced of him referring to the mainstream media as the "Lügenpresse" or "lying press," a term used by Nazis to discredit journalists who reported their atrocities.
He then employed the well-worn conspiracy theory of a Jewish plot to control politics, this time by skewing reporting against Trump.
"One wonders if these people are people at all, or instead soulless golem,” questioned Spencer. He then called Trump's success a "victory of will," an allusion to "Triumph of the Will," the famous Nazi propaganda film directed by Leni Riefenstahl.
"America was, until this last generation, a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity,” Spencer was reported by the New York Times as saying. "It is our creation, it is our inheritance, and it belongs to us.”
He then said white Americans had to "conquer or die."
According to the Holocaust Memorial Museum, his word choice "closely echoes Adolf Hitler's view of Jews and that history is a racial struggle for survival."
Several audience members at the conference gave the Hitler salute as Spencer concluded his speech with, "Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory."