After learning his campaign staffer invited white nationalist Nicholas Fuentes to appear at a local Republican event, Iowa congressional candidate Bobby Schilling reportedly fired Michael Sisco, his campaign’s political coordinator, according to a Dec. 5 report by WQAD in Moline, Illinois. Sisco reportedly included Fuentes as an unpublicized speaker at an event hosted by the Scott County Teenage Republicans at Pleasant View Baptist Church in Bettendorf, Iowa, on Monday. Pleasant View Pastor Ed Hedding said that Fuentes’ presence at the event “was a surprise to us and the entire audience,” adding that he believed Fuentes’ speech “masked ideas that are quite unchristian.”
There are apparently conservatives who seek to mainstream Fuentes, an anti-Semite and white nationalist, even though people in his orbit are consistently exiled from political positions after associating with his hateful message of reorganizing the United States on racial lines.
Fuentes frequently rejects being identified as a white nationalist, despite speaking at length about his self-perceived white identity and his desire to leverage the power of the government to enforce a white supermajority in the United States. He has presented at white nationalist conferences and is closely affiliated with the white nationalist group formerly known as Identity Evropa (which sought to rebrand and whitewash itself earlier this year). Fuentes has argued that hostility toward minorities would be a fair “trade-off” to end the problem presented in “white genocide” conspiracy theories, which hold that race-mixing, multiculturalism, and immigration add up to a formula designed to eliminate the white race.
When some conservative commentators condemned white supremacism after a young white man murdered people in El Paso, Texas, in the name of white supremacist ideology and hostility to Latin American immigrants, Fuentes exploded in an anti-Semitic rant against The Daily Wire columnist Matt Walsh, calling him a “shabbos goy race traitor” and attacking him for working for the Wire’s editor Ben Shapiro, who is Jewish. Later in the podcast, Fuentes attempted to rationalize the mass killer’s motivations for the shooting, characterizing it as an “act of desperation” by someone whose white supremacist views were unjustly shut out of polite society. Fuentes attempted to scrub that incident from his podcast, but the rant was archived by Right Wing Watch.
Despite this, some Republican figures have still attempted to mainstream Fuentes’ message of hate.
The Daily Beast reported last month that the conservative Young America’s Foundation severed its 17-year relationship with far-right commentator Michelle Malkin, who is notorious for defending racial profiling and Japanese internment during World War II, after she praised Fuentes and his fans—who call themselves “groypers”—in a speech. Without mentioning Malkin by name, YAF tweeted: “There is no room in mainstream conservatism or at YAF for holocaust deniers, white nationalists, street brawlers, or racists.” (In 2013, it was reported that YAF board members had funded white nationalist groups, and today YAF still affiliates with inflammatory figures including Dinesh D’Souza and David Horowitz.)
There is no room in mainstream conservatism or at YAF for holocaust deniers, white nationalists, street brawlers, or racists.
Our full statement below: pic.twitter.com/b5EB7P53v3
— YAF (@yaf) November 17, 2019
Turning Point USA severed ties with brand ambassador Ashley St. Clair in September after she was photographed with Fuentes and several other far-right political personalities at a dinner in Florida. “Charlie [Kirk] and TPUSA have repeatedly and publicly denounced white nationalism as abhorrent and un-American and will continue to do so,” a TPUSA spokesperson said in an email statement at the time. After that incident, right-wing political commentator Ali Alexander defended Fuentes and subsequently found himself isolated in the pro-Trump social media sphere.
In 2018, the pro-Trump fringe blog The Gateway Pundit announced that their White House reporter Lucian Wintrich had left the site after Right Wing Watch reported that he had appeared on a podcast with Fuentes. During that appearance, Wintrich described immigrants coming to America in “hordes” and claimed that social media companies engaged in “anti-white” racism.
Despite Fuentes and his allies’ insistence that they’re building a new conservative movement, the effort hasn’t been able to attract full buy-in from likeminded people in their political sphere. Even other far-right social media personalities have criticized the planning of a “Groyper Leadership Summit” that is set to take place in West Palm Beach, Florida, on the same weekend as TPUSA’s Student Action Summit. People opposed to the idea rightfully note that the event will likely result in the public outing of young people associated with the latest attempt to reboot the white nationalist youth movement.
Even if Fuentes has managed to attract a lean base of supporters for his message, his latest organizing effort to disrupt conservative events on college campuses has served to only work against his long-held desire to be treated as a legitimate voice in the broader conservative conversation. And for many who have attempted to help him spread his message, it has come at the cost of their careers.