Students protest Tancredo during Epstein’s Youth for Western Civilization event at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, April 2009
Marcus Epstein, the 25-year-old executive director of a pair of Washington, D.C.-based nationalist, anti-immigrant organizations — Pat Buchanan’s American Cause and former Rep. Tom Tancredo’s Team America PAC — pleaded guilty on Friday to a July 2007 random assault on an African-American woman on a Washington sidewalk. Prosecutors in the case had classified it as a hate crime:
Epstein was walking down the street making offensive remarks when he encountered the victim, called her [a "nigger"] and struck her in her head. He was briefly detained by the woman’s husband, but was able to escape, only to be arrested minutes later by a Secret Service officer who witnessed the attack. According to the officer’s statement, a friend of Epstein’s informed him that he had been drinking.
In the 22 months since the attack, Epstein has maintained a high profile as one of the up and coming leaders in the nationalist, anti-immigrant movement. He has written for far right wing outlets, including Buchanan’s American Conservative magazine, Human Events, Washington Examiner, Taki’s Magazine and Townhall.com.
He has also been a regular blogger for VDARE, a right-wing extremist site dedicated to Virginia Dare, who — as everyone who took North Carolina history in the seventh grade knows — was the first white child born to British colonials, in 1587, on the Outer Banks. (Tar Heels are likely to see it as a fey homage, since Virginia was the youngest member of the unfortunate “Lost Colony” that mysteriously disappeared before British ships could return with supplies.)
In January, Epstein was instrumental in producing a report for Buchanan’s American Cause that declared that racism and immigrant-bashing were the solution — not a glaring obstacle — to the Republican Party’s eventual return to power. After the group released its report at the National Press Club in Washington, the New York Times responded with a scathing editorial titled, “The Nativists Are Restless.”
Epstein also founded Youth for Western Civilization , which bills itself as “America’s Right Wing Youth Movement.” The group’s logo has an oddly puerile, heavy metal vibe and depicts the shape of a heraldic shield, bisected in black and white, with a man’s forearm clinching a Medieval axe that bears an uncanny resemblance to a Roman fasci.
In April, anti-racist protesters shut down a Youth for Western Civilization event featuring Tancredo at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:
Seconds after Tancredo started discussing his opposition to the [Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM, Act], a classroom window shattered, broken by a rock-throwing protester outside.
“That’s it,” he said, walking briskly into the hallway … through the the acrid scent of pepper spray that still hung in the air, and out Bingham Hall’s back door. A student, carrying a cardboard sign that read “NO HATE SPEECH AT UNC,” bolted after Tancredo … screaming profanity and insults.
The protesters stayed long after Tancredo’s departure, giving speeches through a bullhorn, chanting and berating campus police for using force on them. One student complained, to cacophonous cheers, that safety officers were protecting “racists,” while those that really needed protection — the students — were being zapped and sprayed.
In the context of all this, it’s interesting that Marcus Epstein’s Wikipedia entry notes that he is half-Korean and and half-Jewish. To the average armchair psychologist, it would appear that Epstein is working out some issues about his own ethnic identity, and that this inner turmoil has presented itself in at least one violent episode.
If so, this prompts questions about how such an apparently disturbed young man rose so high in not one but two of the relatively buttoned-down racist political organizations based in the nation’s capitol.
In fact, his prominence in these two organizations exposes the bad judgment of their leaders, Pat Buchanan, Tom Tancredo and Buchanan’s sister Bay, who is closely tied to both American Cause and Team America PAC.
The poor judgment of the Buchanans and Tancredo is given extra pertinence when you consider the fact that Epstein’s guilty plea — which his bosses must have known was coming — came at the end of a week when both Buchanans and Tancredo separately made headlines for their racist demagoguing of the nomination of Judge Sonia Satomayor, the first Latina nominated to the high court.
On MSNBC, Pat Buchanan called Sotomayor “a ‘lightweight,’ ‘an anti-white, liberal judicial activist.’ He and his sister Bay both claimed that Sotomayor’s nomination was the result of ‘affirmative action.'”
On CNN, Tancredo maligned Sotomayor via her association with the Latino advocacy group, the National Council of La Raza, which he described as a “Latino KKK without the hoods and nooses.”
These comments were part of a chorus of attacks on Sotomayor from the right, all of which were based on taking out of context comments Sotomayor made years ago, especially one in which she said that a “wise Latina” might understand certain issues “better” than a white man. Rush Limbaugh branded this remark as “reverse racism,” and later compared her with the disgraced KKK leader David Duke. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich demanded that she withdraw her nomination and suggested that “new racism is no better than old racism.” (And he should know.) On Fox, Glenn Beck called Sotomayor a “Hispanic chicky lady,” while, on MSNBC, Buchanan referred to her derisively as “that woman.”
The fact that the Buchanans and Tancredo rushed to the cameras to bash Judge Sotomayor with such glee, all the while knowing that at the end of the week Epstein would plead guilty plea for a racist assault is significant. They likely assumed — correctly — that Epstein’s plea would not get the attention of the corporate media, and even if it did, the Beltway bouffants would not connect the dots from him to them.
As of 6:30 a.m. Pacific on Monday, there has been no reporting about Epstein’s plea. Nor has an announcement that he has been fired made its way onto the Google — but why would there be when his bosses have known about this attack since the summer of 2007 and could have, should have, distanced themselves from him then.
Epstein will be sentenced in July. He faces a maximum punishment of 180 days in jail and could pay a $1000 fine. He will also undergo an alcohol program, write a letter of apology to his victim and donate $1000 to the United Negro College Fund.
- Section: News & Comment