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This White Supremacist Author Has Quietly Been Un-Canceled by the Right

In September 1995, Pat Buchanan adviser and columnist Sam Francis was ousted from The Washington Times for virulent racism. It was, according to the Washington City Paper, the culmination of monthslong campaign carried out by young conservatives in Washington, DC, who wanted Francis to be removed not just from the Times but from the conservative movement as a whole. Francis had kept his white nationalism semiprivate—a feat easier accomplished in the pre-internet era, when his most extreme views, like calling for a “white reconquest of the United States,” could be circulated in more obscure publications without wide distribution.

But in May 1994, in the course of researching his book The End of Racism, Dinesh D’Souza, then a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, caught Francis saying (at a conference put on by white nationalist Jared Taylor, no less), among other things: “What we as whites must do is reassert our identity and our solidarity, and we must do so in explicitly racial terms through the articulation of a racial consciousness as whites.” When the galley for D’Souza’s book circulated the next summer, and some of the quotes D’Souza captured were featured in The Washington Post, what Francis had said and written were deemed beyond the pale and incompatible with conservatism. It didn’t help that earlier that summer Francis had written a column for the Times criticizing the Southern Baptist Convention for apologizing for slavery. Sample line: “neither ‘slavery’ nor ‘racism’ as an institution is a sin.” (D’Souza’s book was no anti-racist tract itself; highly controversial and panned by historians and critics, The End of Racism was considered so problematic by Black conservative intellectuals Glenn Loury and Robert L. Woodson that they announced they would no longer associate with AEI after its publication.) In today’s parlance, Francis was canceled; his career at the Times was over and he spent his final years largely confined to the fever swamps of explicitly white supremacist organizations before he died in 2005.

Now—nearly 30 years later—rising names in the Republican Party are trying to bring Francis back into the fold.

His name comes up in speeches at conservative conferences; at the 2022 National Conservatism Conference, Hillsdale College professor and former Heritage Foundation fellow David Azerrad cited Francis when arguing that American law unfairly targets conservatives while oppressed groups get a free pass. Peter Thiel protégée turned Donald Trump–backed Senate candidate Blake Masters has been promoting Francis’s ideas throughout his Senate campaign, going so far as to recommend his book of essays, Beautiful Losers, which Masters has cited as an influence on his style of conservatism, in an Instagram Story that was pinned at the top of his account. (Vanity Fair reached out to Masters’s campaign for comment. They did not respond; the archived Instagram Story has since been removed.) Joe Kent, another Republican candidate endorsed by Trump this cycle, seems familiar enough with Francis’s writings to reference his work multiple times while running for Washington’s third congressional district seat. Francis is cited in articles by influential, and relatively mainstream, conservative writers working for publications like National Review; former Trump administration staffer and essayist of “Flight 93 Election” fame Michael Anton and founder of the Trump-promoted Compact Matthew Schmitz have also both referenced him.

Francis’s work started popping up again in 2016 as a way to understand the phenomenon that led to Trump. Michael Brendan Dougherty, then a senior correspondent for The Week and now a senior writer for National Review, wrote an article in 2016 calling Francis “the Rosetta Stone for Trumpism.” Dougherty cited a 1996 essay written by Francis in which he argued that white working-class resentment from economic globalization could be channeled into electoral success. (Dougherty also argues that Francis wasn’t a white nationalist until later in his career. When that transition occurred is debatable, but one thing is clear: It was well before 1996.) Shortly after Doughtery’s article was published, Rush Limbaugh read an essay of Francis’s on air. But while discussion of Francis in the early Trump days was oriented toward trying to understand how we got to Trump, now his ideas are cited not descriptively, but prescriptively.

Read entire article at Vanity Fair