Schadenfreude is a German word meaning “joy from sorrow” — usually used in the context of enjoying someone else’s pain — and a New York Times article about alt-right neo-Nazi organizer has provided a generous serving of schadenfreude for the holiday weekend, describing a long list of misfortunes he’s experienced lately:
Leaders in Whitefish [Montana] say Mr. Spencer, who once ran his National Policy Institute from his mother’s $3 million summer house here, is now an outcast in this resort town in the Rocky Mountains, unable to get a table at many of its restaurants. His organization has dissolved. Meanwhile, his wife has divorced him, and he is facing trial next month in Charlottesville, Va., over his role in the deadly 2017 neo-Nazi march there, but says he cannot afford a lawyer.
The Times details how Spencer and his former wife had gotten in a dispute with a local real estate agent named Tanya Gersh regarding a commercial property in downtown Whitefish owned by Spencer’s mother, Sherry Spencer, publishing a Medium post (falsely using Sherry Spencer’s name) in December 2016 accusing Gersh of attempting to blackmail Sherry Spencer into selling the property.
A predictable flood of harassment and threats soon followed, especially after Andrew Anglin, the founder of the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, launched an antisemitic hate campaign against Gersh that included publishing her personal contact information and social media accounts.
Anglin’s readers sent Gersh hundreds of calls, text messages, and emails — even Christmas cards with threatening messages — and they also targeted other Whitefish residents who were Jewish (or whom they just thought had Jewish-sounding names).
The town of Whitefish rallied in support of Gersh and a local rabbi, Rabbi Francine Green Roston of the Glacier Jewish Community/B’nai Shalom, with thousands of paper menorahs going up in the windows of residents’ homes over the Hanukkah season, an anti-hate rally drawing 600 attendees even in the zero-degree weather, and another community unity and appreciation event organized by Roston’s congregation serving 350 people matzo ball soup.
Anglin’s followers had said they would hold their own rally in Whitefish on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2017, but none of them actually showed up. Gersh filed suit against Anglin for invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and violations of Montana’s Anti-Intimidation Act, eventually winning $14 million in damages.
Gersh’s attorneys have been searching for Anglin and any assets he may have to pay the damages. Anglin and Spencer are also among several named defendants in a lawsuit filed by victims and counterprotestors at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va. where a neo-Nazi drove his car into a crowd, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.
Last year, Spencer’s attorney withdrew from the case because he had not been paid. Spencer complained that being deplatformed (he was kicked off Twitter in late 2016) made it harder for him to raise money and he has been representing himself since then.
And Whitefish residents have continued to make their feelings clear about Spencer, booing him right out of local restaurants.
“Richard Spencer wanted this to be his happy vacation place where he could play and have fun, and people would just live and let live,” Roston told the Times. “Then he started suffering social consequences for his hatred.”
Unsurprisingly, Twitter found the latest updates on Spencer’s fate schadefreudelicious, with many bringing up the viral moment when Spencer was punched in the face during a live television interview.
— The Hoarse Whisperer (@TheRealHoarse) September 5, 2021
White nationalist leader Richard Spencer now says his entire life has collapsed and he can’t even afford a lawyer for when he goes on trial next month. Guess he did nazi that coming.
— Palmer Report (@PalmerReport) September 5, 2021
boy it’s a real shame how richard spencer’s life has completely fallen apart after all that smug publicity-seeking neo-nazi race war stuff.
— Jeff B. tried to do his best, but he could not (@EsotericCD) September 5, 2021
SUPER FUN FACT: Neo Nazi Richard Spencer is an outcast in his community, flat broke, and his life is in complete shambles.
Karma understood the assignment.
— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@mmpadellan) September 5, 2021
— DemonicEntitiesHat (@Popehat) September 5, 2021
Of course, we are not going to encourage punching anyone in the face, but well, since it’s already happened, there’s no actual violence involved in watching the video once or twice. Or a few dozen times. Possibly relevant: there’s another magnificent German word, Backpfeifengesicht, which means “face in need of a fist” or “face that looks like it needs to be punched.”