St. Marks School of Texas is the sort of prep school that cranks out actors, athletes, and titans of industry. It also educated Richard Spencer, a man who is now of the foremost neo-Nazis in America.
Spencer, who is president of the white nationalist National Policy Institute think tank, is credited with having coined the now ubiquitous term “alt-right,” and has been riding a wave of renewed interest in the wake of Donald Trump’s political ascendency. He’s been called “dapper” and “radical chic,” in fawning profiles that, while not minimizing his virulent bigotry, wind up somewhat burying his extremism.
For a group of St. Marks graduates, however, Spencer’s brand of well-dressed racism stands in direct contrast to the lessons of tolerance and equality instilled in them by their alma matter. So they decided to do something about it.
Identifying themselves as “concerned alumni from the Class of 1997,” the group has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money in support of refugee advocacy organization the International Rescue Committee.
“We, friends and alumni of all classes of St. Mark’s School of Texas, honor the values with which we were raised and educated: respect, compassion, service, and a vision of our city and country that includes people of all races, religions, and origins,” the group explained online. “We are of different political parties and views, but unite in recognizing that these values are under attack by our white supremacist classmate Richard B. Spencer ’97. We proudly support IRC’s efforts and denounce those like Spencer who consider refugees a threat.”
As of Monday, the campaign had raised over $45,000 dollars for IRC, with funds rolling in from St. Marks alumni, parents, and strangers alike.
“On behalf of like minded mothers of the class of 2010 and proud to have sons who are graduates from this amazing school!” wrote one donor.
“As a Muslim and resident of Dallas, I am proud of having St. Mark alumni making a difference in refugees’ lives and taking a clear stance again hate,” wrote another.
A school representative made clear to the Dallas Morning News that St. Marks does not comment about individual students. However, following the publication of video featuring Spencer shouting white nationalist and Nazi slogans at a recent Washington, D.C. confab, school headmaster David W. Dini issued a statement that, while not referencing Spencer by name, makes clear where St. Marks stands on its troublesome alumnus.
“This has been deeply troubling and terribly upsetting to our whole school community,” Dini wrote. “At St. Mark’s, we reject racism and bigotry in all its forms and expressions. Our mission, values, and programs stand in direct opposition to these vulgar ideas.”
“In light of such comments,” Dini emphasized, “our mission to develop boys of strong character, compassion, empathy, and courage has increasing relevance and importance.”
On GAB, a social media network preferred by white nationalists following the suspension of a number of accounts—including Spencer’s—on Twitter, Spencer reportedly reacted to his former classmates’ efforts.
“The most revealing part of this story is that my classmates’ response to viewpoints they don’t like is to commit civilizational suicide even harder than before,” Spencer wrote. “They are raising money for resettling refugees in their city, damaging the lives of White people who lack their privilege.”
I have reached out to some of the crowdfunding campaign’s organizers for comment, and will update this story if and when they reply.