Staffers at Alex Jones’ Infowars outlet appear to be working to sanitize an organization that is, at minimum, an offshoot of the white nationalist group Identity Evropa. Patrick Casey, leader of the group formerly known as Identity Evropa and since renamed the American Identity Movement, appeared today as a guest on Infowars’ video show.
Identity Evropa is the former name of the U.S.-based white nationalist group involved in the 2017 gathering of right-wing groups in Charlottesville, Virginia, that ended in murder and mayhem. Nathan Damigo, the group’s founder, is named in a federal civil lawsuit regarding the violence that occurred on the streets of the historic college town when white supremacist groups of all stripes met there on August 12, 2017, for a rally they called Unite the Right. As it did under its Identity Evropa moniker, the group aims to recruit college-aged white men to its ranks, constructing its messaging to resemble that of the European identitarian movement, with hopes that lofty allusions to European heritage and personal identity will act as a lure for its white nationalist movement organizing.
In late 2017, after the Charlottesville debacle, Patrick Casey took reins of the group. Last month, he rebranded the effort as the American Identity Movement after independent media outlet Unicorn Riot published Identity Evropa’s chat logs. Although Casey claimed that AIM was a new group—separate from Identity Evropa—there is ample evidence to suggest the purportedly new group is simply the old group with a new name—little more than a marketing choice.
AIM members who claimed to be in New Orleans, Louisiana, filmed themselves protesting a Drag Queen Story Hour event while dressed as clowns earlier this week (read here about the racist right’s appropriation of clowns as a symbol). Video of the stunt gathered tens of thousands of views on Twitter, which Casey said was their “biggest action” to date.
As The Daily Beast reporter Will Sommer noted yesterday, news of the protest was picked up without context by Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson, who wrote a post and splashed it across Infowars’ front page. Watson described the men depicted in the video simply as “activists with the American identity movement,” making no mention of the group’s white nationalist ideology.
On the Infowars video and radio program yesterday, host Owen Shroyer picked up the story.
InfoWars and R/The_Donald are cheering two men who dressed as clowns to protest a drag queen story hour—without noting that their group, the “American Identity Movement,” is just a rebranding of white supremacist group Identity Europa. pic.twitter.com/NxSUsAd9XN
— Will Sommer (@willsommer) April 23, 2019
Today, Casey joined Shroyer for a sympathetic interview about the clown stunt, making no mention of Identity Evropa or Casey’s history in the white nationalist movement. Casey has been a guest on Infowars before, enjoying the same friendly treatment. Before welcoming Casey today on the show, Shroyer said he was grateful that Infowars was a free speech outlet where hosts could “lift the ships around us up.”
Infowars’ relationship to extremist movements has faced scrutiny over the years. Reveal reported that Infowars acts as a conduit “for convincing people that a shadowy cabal of elites is manipulating the world”—a drumbeat that can result in viewers developing racist, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic views. Online, members of the white nationalist community mourned Infowars’ recent loss of presence on many social media sites because, as one propagandist put it, the movement had lost a vital “gateway drug” when such popular platforms as Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube booted Infowars from distributing its video and podcasts via their services. The outlet has booked several white nationalist propagandists as guests through the years and featured a host that espoused many of the same viewpoints
(Updated: 4:05 p.m.)