Turning Point USA has a “groyper” problem.
The right-wing get out the vote youth organization TPUSA, led by Charlie Kirk, has long had to fend off the followers of white nationalist Nick Fuentes, who call themselves groypers, from infiltrating their ranks. But they haven’t always been successful at keeping racists and groypers at arm’s length and have at times have even employed them.
A groyper appears to have slipped through the cracks most recently at the University of Alabama. Brandt Wiggins is a follower of Fuentes’ white nationalist America First movement, and this January, the TPUSA chapter at University of Alabama announced that Wiggins had assumed the role of vice president.
Wiggins has peddled the great replacement theory and urged white people to “HAVE WHITE BABIES!!!” He’s advocated for men to beat their wives if they try to obtain a divorce. And he has joined white nationalists as a guest on their show and used antisemitic language.
Right Wing Watch reached out to Wiggins, TPUSA, TPUSA chapter president Judson Christopher, and the chapter’s academic adviser Tuesday. A spokesman for TPUSA responded Tuesday that “Brandt Wiggins is no longer affiliated with TPUSA.”
The chapter’s academic adviser, politics professor George Hawley, replied that he “never personally met Brandt Wiggins and [knows] nothing more about him and his activities than what is available online.” In an email with the chapter’s TPUSA president on March 3, Hawley says he was informed “that they had already gone through the process of formally removing Mr. Wiggins from his position.”
Neither Wiggins nor the chapter president replied to our inquiry by publication. Right Wing Watch will update this story should either provide comment.
Wiggins streams on Cozy.tv, an explicitly “anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-Black, antisemitic” platform founded by Fuentes, under the name Based Brandt. While his videos cannot be seen on there—the platform automatically deletes livestreams after two days—in a livestream captured by an antifascist activist, Wiggins encouraged men to “always make women emotionally dependent on you” and advocated for domestic violence.
“Do whatever it takes, gaslight, all that. Make them dependent on you unironically. Be a little schemer if you have to,” Wiggins said.
Wiggins went on to discuss marriage, which he called “more of a necessity for the children,” and provided his take on what men should do if their wives want a divorce.
“People are like, ‘Oh if you don’t choose the right one, she might divorce you.’ She might divorce me? Are you kidding me?” Wiggins scoffed. “What if I just don’t let her? What if I gaslight her, what if I make her emotionally dependent? Stop letting your wives be so independent and they won’t divorce you or they can’t even attempt to divorce you. Any discussion of that, and you back hand her. You’re like, ‘No, no, you need me.’ Make her sign the prenup.”
Wiggins attended last year’s white nationalist America First Political Action Conference, where speakers like radical conspiracy theorist Stew Peters called for the hanging of their political enemies and the appearances of far-right politicians like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Rep. Paul Gosar emboldened the white nationalists in attendance. Wiggins took a photo with Fuentes, publishing it on Twitter with the caption “we can’t be stopped.” He wrote:
I had the absolute pleasure of meeting @realnickjfuentes at AFPAC! He was extremely cordial and even asked me about my content! The energy in the air was ecstatic last night and it goes to show that we can’t be stopped. We have now gone mainstream thanks to backing from politicians and other important political figures.
Fuentes—who made headlines last fall when he dined with former President Donald Trump and Ye—has compared himself to Hitler, said that “We need to go back to burning women alive more,” and called for Christian fascism. He’s also attempted to recruit incels and misogynists to his movement of young, mostly white men and has been accused of running his organization like a cult.
Earlier this month, Wiggins also attended the Conservative Political Action Conference with Fuentes and other groypers. Though Fuentes was kicked out of CPAC, he held an America First white nationalist rally following the conference’s conclusion at which Fuentes called for the eradication of “transgenderism,” feminism, liberalism, democracy, and “Talmudic Judaism” from public life. Wiggins was photographed waiting in line for Fuentes’ rally.
In December 2022, Wiggins participated in a livestream with white nationalist America First influencers Tyler Russell and Dalton Clodfelter, who pronounced his love of Hitler during the stream. When Russell gleefully noted that “every two weeks, antisemitism is up, it’s up,” Wiggins put both thumbs up in response.
The trio also applauded Trump’s dinner with Fuentes and Ye, which followed the rappers’ antisemitic outbursts. After voicing his support for Ye’s campaign for president—which Fuentes was advising—Wiggins said that the older generation of Americans had been “totally zogged” into not believing trans people were a big deal. The term “zog” is an antisemitic term regularly used by white supremacists.
The following month, the “Ye Is Right” campaign came to the University of Alabama. Russell and Clodfelter had organized the “road trip” to hit different college campuses to lift Ye’s 2024 presidential campaign, defend the rapper turned presidential candidate’s antisemitic remarks, and spread Holocaust denial conspiracy theories.
They day before their official arrival on campus, on Jan. 26, someone drew graffiti on the sidewalk that read “YEisRight” and “America First,” alongside references to the date Jan. 27, Holocaust Remembrance Day. Student organizations, including University of Alabama’s TPUSA chapter, condemned the graffiti. In a post on Instagram, the TPUSA chapter claimed to “stand with the UA Jewish community.” The chapter was, however, following Russell on Instagram and had planned on hosting Russell and another America First activist Kai Schwemmer in October. (The event was later canceled, and the chapter’s Instagram account is now private.) Wiggins had not only appeared on Russell and Clodfelter’s show but also defended their “Ye Is Right” campaign earlier in the month, and he was in a celebratory mood when the campaign arrived at University of Alabama.
The campaign around Ye has always been about pushing the right further to the right, and white nationalists have used Ye as a meme for recruitment to do just that. As Daniel Schmidt, chairman of “Students For Ye,” told Russell in the beginning of January, one of the groups’ top priorities is “taking over” TPUSA chapters all over the country. “If it’s not pro-Ye, we’ll send our guys down there, and we’ll do whatever it takes to put leaders in, put pro-Ye people in,” he told Russell. It would come as no surprise then that Fuentes has aggressively pushed Schmidt and “Students For Ye,” according to Vice News.
Daniel Schmidt, chairman of "Students For Ye," says that one of their top priorities is "taking over" TPUSA chapters all over the country: "If it's not pro-Ye, we'll send our guys down there and we'll do whatever it takes to put leaders in, put pro-Ye people in." pic.twitter.com/a4hT6eTUj8
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) January 3, 2023
Ben Lorber, a researcher at Political Research Associates who was the first to identify Wiggins as a follower of Fuentes, describes Wiggins as “a minor player within the groyper movement, one of the many figures who have emerged from the depths of the Gen-Z far-right internet over the last year or so to hitch their wagon to Fuentes and the America First brand.”
But Wiggins’ ascent to vice president of Alabama’s TPUSA chapter is indicative of one strategy the white nationalist America First movement has taken in respect to TPUSA: using it as fertile recruiting ground.
“America First has long viewed TPUSA as symbolic of the out-of-touch, ineffectual, and politically compromised conservative establishment,” Lorber told Right Wing Watch. “At various points, Fuentes and the groypers have advocated pressuring TPUSA from the outside, infiltrating it from within, or ignoring it entirely and building parallel structures that, they hope, will grow in popularity and come to supplant their competitors.”
And TPUSA, along with the entire conservative movement, has moved further to the right—a shift that Fuentes and groypers have taken credit for. As Kirk and TPUSA have come to embrace Christian nationalists, election denialism, the racist great replacement theory, and fearmongering about Black Lives Matter and critical race theory, groypers have struggled to stay relevant, using ploys like “Ye Is Right” to position themselves as an edgy alternative.
Update: This article has been updated with a clarification from George Hawley about when he was informed Wiggins was removed from his position at the University of Alabama TPUSA chapter.
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