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Advance of the Groypers: Inside AFPAC II


While CPAC droned away, solidifying Donald Trump’s legacy, voter suppression, and the continued emergence of middle American nationalism as a transforming feature of modern conservatism, another event in Orlando displayed how white nationalists are attempting to capitalize on the moment.

Held at the Orlando Hilton, just minutes from this year’s CPAC venue, the America First Political Action Conference II (AFPAC II) was organized by the America First Foundation, a new entity led by white nationalist Nick Fuentes.

Over the last eighteen months, Fuentes emerged as the leader of the “groypers,” a bloc of young activists who mobilized to press core issues and frames of white nationalists into the heart of the MAGA base. They gained notoriety by generating opposition to conservative political organizations close to Trump – such as Turning Point USA and Young America’s Foundation.

Fuentes and his “groypers” gained national notoriety in late 2020 by playing a role in the “Stop the Steal” rallies to overturn the 2020 election results, preceding the January 6 Capitol insurrection. At least two people tied to the “groypers” have been arrested in connection to the attack, and flags with Fuentes’ “America First” logo flew atop scaffolds surrounding the Capitol Building and on the Senate floor during the insurrection.

This year’s AFPAC reportedly more than doubled the number of attendees from last year, with one estimate of as many as six hundred in the crowd.[1] AFPAC II also extended the “groyper” reach into the Republican party, by featuring Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and former Representative Steve King (R-IA) on the AFPAC stage, along with Fuentes, Vincent James, Michelle Malkin, and Jon Miller.

Taken together, the speeches at AFPAC II provide a roadmap for where white nationalist mainstreamers may head in the post-Trump landscape. After Orlando, for the “groypers,” all roads lead to an insurgency within the GOP and the 2022 election.

Nick Fuentes

A cursory comparison of CPAC and AFPAC speeches finds that issues raised at both events were are mostly similar – nativism, anti-masker and reopen ideas, law and order politics, and continuing the “Stop the Steal” momentum. While some policy differences exist – Fuentes and the AFPACers seem to care less about “free market capitalism” than CPACers – what most differentiated the two conferences was how the issues were framed. There is no better place to start an understanding of how white nationalist mainstreaming efforts are framed than to unpack Nick Fuentes’ keynote speech at AFPAC II.

Fuentes began by casting the central issue of the day not as between capitalism and socialism – as was common at CPAC – but “between nationalism, with populism, against globalism. it was the people in the grassroots, sometimes from the left, mostly from the right, against the globalist regime that controlled both major parties and all the power structures in the country.”

This passage denotes the white nationalist vision of a fundamental struggle between globalism and nationalism. This frame extends beyond white nationalism to other brands of far-right and racialized brands of nationalism. It also portrays increasing efforts of leaders like Nick Fuentes to cast his movement as “populist,” a means of seeking to make its deeply racist politics more palatable to a broader public.

In this respect, it is similar to the Populist Party of the 1980s and 1990s, created by white nationalist mainstreamer Willis Carto and first chaired by Mississippi Klansman Robert Weems. National socialist David Duke ran for president on the party’s banner in 1988. James “Bo” Gritz’s 1992 Populist Party bid was organized by a mish-mash of Klan, national socialist, Christian Identity, so-called Christian Patriot, and assorted white nationalist activists – all profoundly racist. However, the term “populism” tells us nothing about the substance of the political goals of the 1980-1990s group or the current movement.[2]

Fuentes next laid out the movement’s broad goals, encapsulated by his catch-phrase “destroy the GOP.” (Video of Fuentes shouting the phrase into a megaphone at “Stop the Steal” rallies became evidence during Trump’s second impeachment).

Fuentes opined,  “We needed to redefine the right-wing by solidifying the political realignment that Donald Trump initiated in 2016, under the banner, and under the slogan, and under the principles of America First.” Specifically, Fuentes expanded that unlike the first AFPAC in 2020, which came fresh off the heels of the “groyper” mobilization against groups like Turning Point USA and Young America’s Foundation on college campuses, Fuentes stressed the conflict between the “conservative establishment and the America First pro-Trump base” is “now playing out” on a national electoral field. Fuentes reiterated the plan to run primary candidates against all of the “RINO’s” (Republicans In Name Only) who had not sufficiently supported Trump, stating that the most vulnerable among them would be those like U.S. Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY), censured by her state party after voting to impeach Donald Trump. This, Fuentes claimed, “speaks to the advantage that Trump has in the coming civil war” in the GOP.

After taking shots at more RINOs, Fuentes cut to the chase, posing that to answer the question of “What is America First?… We first have to define what America is.” In this regard, Fuentes contrasted his view of CPAC conservatism to two core aspects of the national identity espoused by the America First Foundation: whiteness and Christianity.

Fuentes described that the national identity expressed at CPAC and by groups like Turning Point USA and Young America’s Foundation is that “America is merely an idea,” and that “it doesn’t matter how many immigrants you bring over here, it doesn’t matter what language this country speaks, it doesn’t matter if this country even is on this continent…That as long as you have the Constitution and these liberal enlightenment values, that you’ve got America.” In contrast, Fuentes expounded his America First:

“America, put simply, is a particular people in a particular place…America is one people, one nation on this continent, forged over hundreds of years by shared experiences. Descended from an English cultural framework and influenced by European civilization” [applause] “America is a Christian nation.” [applause and chants of “Christ is king.”] “And that’s not just a slogan. When I say that America is a Christian nation, I’m saying that Jesus Christ is the son of God and this is one nation under that God.” [loud applause] “So if America ceases to be this people, if America ceases to retain that English cultural framework, and the influence of European civilization, if it loses its white demographic core, and if it loses its faith in Jesus Christ, then this is not America anymore.” [applause] [Italics added]

Fuentes later returned to stressing that whiteness lies at the core of Americanness: “And I know some people aren’t going to like me saying this – I’m sure you all are going to love what I’m about to say – but people watching at home are not, some of them are not going to like this, it’s controversial… it’s true, but it’s something that you can’t say anymore. White people founded this country.” [applause] “This country wouldn’t exist without white people. And white people are done being bullied.” [applause].

In a 2019 video, Fuentes was even more to the point on the topic of being a white nationalist,

“In a way, I think it’s almost redundant to say that you’re a white nationalist. We know that the word nation almost implicitly talks about ethnicity and biology… So I think if I call myself a nationalist, it’s almost implicit in that word that it’s, well, you know America does have a heritage of being a European Country.”

Fuentes followed his display of definitional white nationalism – that whites are the core demographic group in America, without which it could not exist – with a nod to white nationalist mainstreaming. Here he stated, “We’re not asking for anything that is not afforded to every other group of people in this country…We are living in a multiracial society, and we will live in a multiracial society, but it is only going to work if everybody is respected, everybody is treated with dignity, everybody is afforded the same rights under the law as everybody else. This is a sovereignty issue because, as I said, it is an attack on America as it exists and on its demographic core.”[3]

This definition established, Fuentes explains, “So if that is America, then America first is simply the interests and the well-being of the Americans and their country put first, put first before the regime that rules this country, and their profits and their power, put first before foreign countries, our allies, like Japan and NATO, and Israel and Saudi Arabia” [applause] “Put first before our rivals, like Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea; put first before multinational corporations and the billionaire class; put first before the dogma of free-market capitalism.” [applause]. Fuentes continues that,

“We have got to separate out and divorce in our minds America, as I’ve just described it, from the America regime…which consists of an elite media, Hollywood, academia, the deep state, the national security apparatus, the billionaire class, big business, big pharma, big tech, big agriculture, big energy. We have got to separate out the people in this country that are the country from those outsiders, the interlopers, impostors, the evil people that now rule this country. It’s gotta be separated.” [applause] “The people that have built this system, this sick, evil corrupt system, reject the very existence of America. They reject the existence of the nations. The people that constitute the elite can be variously described as post-national, transnational, anti-national…The globalization of the population through mass immigration, globalization of the economy through free trade, and the globalization of the government through global government under the pretext of universal global threats made up threats, like climate change, white supremacy, and recently the Covid pandemic.”[4]

In addition to the perceived threat from elite globalists “above,” Fuentes completes the middle American white nationalist framework by depicting both “globalization of the population through mass immigration” and the struggle to end racism in policing by Black Lives Matter as existential threats to the core white American nation:

“The Republican response to cities being burned to the ground, to statues of our ancestors and heroes being torn down; the response to new holidays being created and old ones discarded; and the creation, and don’t forget this, the creation of a new racial caste system in this country with whites at the bottom…What BLM is doing is they are challenging the very existence of the United States of America as it is and the historic American nation. This challenge to the existence of our country must be matched and exceeded with equal veracity and intensity in defense of America… So let’s take immigration…every time an immigrant comes into this country…they are necessarily diluting the economic, social, and political power of every native American that lives here. This is how we have to view immigration.”[5]

Beyond situating the middle American nationalist ideology in white nationalist form, Fuentes deployed the terminology of the “historic American nation,” a euphemism for the “white American nation” used by groups like VDARE, representatives of which were present at AFPAC II. In declaring the emergence of a “new racial caste system in this country with whites at the bottom” – a statement made in the face of a broad range of sociological indicators of persistent racial inequality in the United States placings whites at the top, Fuentes here articulates another core aspect of white nationalism – an overriding sense of white dispossession, a feature also found in various forms across a broader range of far-right tendencies in the country.

In addition to RINO’s, Fuentes also warned of a “new cadre of people…that are…seeking to co-opt the message that we’re talking about,” including some such as Josh Hawley, who is “a little bit more faithful to the substance of what I’m describing,” but whose terminology, such as a need for “industrial policy,” is not enough.  Fuentes, again, turned to race, arguing that,

“I’m sorry, but when I see Black Lives Matter destroying the city, I want to say certain things.” [applause] “You know what kinda guy I am, nothing bad, Jon, Jon Miller, my African-American over there. When I get kicked off an airplane,” such as recently for not wearing a mask, “I’ve gotta say certain things….and some how ‘industrial policy’ or ‘multiracial working-class populism’ just doesn’t do the trick…frankly, they are gay.” [big applause] “And we are based” [applause].

Alleging that this effort to co-opt wants “Trumpism without Trump,” including wars in the Middle East, corporate tax cuts, defense budget, the wall, and “the Muslim ban,” Fuentes declared that the real issue is “sovereignty…control over our country…The sovereignty issues of our time are simple. Immigration, first. Big tech censorship. Voter fraud. The Covid lockdown. And I think going along with that, too, is the anti-white agenda of the mainstream media.” [applause]

As described above, Fuentes had expressed support for “everybody” being “afforded the same rights under the law as everybody else.” This, however, is deceptive. While the movement for Black Lives is, in fact, seeking racial equality under the law and an end to discriminatory practices by police departments, something else is at work here. In the context of a vision that whites are the core national demographic of America, that whites are being dispossessed by a new racial caste system, and that the election was fraudulent, Fuentes sets out a framework that supports the overthrow of even a modicum of democracy in the United States.

Fuentes drove home the point, noting that he was present in the Capitol on January 6 and that when, “I saw hundreds of thousands of patriots surrounding the U.S. Capitol building, and I saw the police retreating, and we heard that the politicians voting on the fraudulent election had scurried in their underground tunnels away from the capitol, I said to myself, this is awesome.” [big applause].

Smugly, Fuentes referred to the insurrection where several people died as “light-hearted mischief at the Capitol.” Fuentes told the crowd, “I want to live in an America where something like that is still possible.”

Fuentes celebrated the insurrection, even fantasizing of future attacks. He declared that the Capitol building and the district are the “capitol of an evil empire” before ramping up his support for the insurrection.

“To see that a capitol under siege, to see the people of this country rise up, and mobilize to D.C. with the pitchforks and the torches, we need a little more of that energy in the future,” Fuentes remarked, which was met by chants of “USA!” from the crowd.

Given the role of Fuentes and the “groypers” in cheerleading the insurrection, it is unsurprising that two individuals who have supported the “groypers” were arrested in the Capitol insurrection. This includes Christian Secor of the America First Bruins, a UCLA campus-based group that in 2020 promoted a “groyper” affiliated anti-immigrant resolution and belonged to America First, according to an FBI affidavit.[6] Additionally, Riley June Williams, the woman investigated for possibly taking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s laptop during the riot, was reported wearing a t-shirt stating, “I’m with Groyper.”[7] The blue America First flag used by the was also seen inside the Capitol during the insurrection.[8]

This vision of a radical assault on the electoral process and democracy also makes sense from another aspect of Fuente’s ideology – his adoration of fascism and desire to be part of a fascist movement.[9] For more on Fuentes adoration of fascism, and precisely “Catholic fascism,” see the IREHR special report, From AltRight to Groyper: White Nationalists Rebrand for 2020 and Beyond.

Vincent James

California-based “groyper” activist Vincent James of the video collective, The Red Elephants, an outlet that promotes core ideas of white nationalism, mimicked, in less explicit form, significant points of Nick Fuentes’ closing speech.[10] Declaring that Donald Trump had faced “betrayal in the trenches,” he reiterated the America First goal that “we were going to destroy the GOP.”

Chants of “destroy the GOP” followed.

Similar to Fuentes, for James, betrayals took place on issues such as immigration, foreign wars, and changing “the name of our military bases.” It also took the form of “censoring Marjorie Taylor Greene “for some mean things she said on Facebook four years ago;” and taking “Steve King off of committees because the New York Times misrepresented what he said,” the latter referring to the AFPAC II guest speaker asking the New York Times in 2019, “White nationalists, white supremacists, western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”.

More to the point, James asserted Fuentes’ long-expressed view thatPeople like us are going to primary every last spineless and traitorous member of the Republican Party in 2022. We are going to completely transform the party by 2024 and out of its ashes will finally rise true, right-wing, reactionary force.” [Chants of “America First”]

He continued with a racialized view of the conservative enemy:

“A movement that does not simply define itself by how low your taxes are, how high the GDP is, or how many blacks, gays, and paraplegics we can have speak at our conferences…True conservatism is not about individual liberty or the free market, as CPAC would have you believe. Conservatism is first and foremost about order. And the America first movement is unwavering in our commitment to restore order in this dysfunctional, degenerating and chaotic country we live in today.”

Other highlights of James racializing his nationalism included introducing visions of settler colonialism, rejecting an American national identity based on shared ideas, asserting a demographically-defined nationalism, and asserting a defense of “western culture” – all components of the modern white nationalist articulation of Americaness:

“We cannot be afraid to say that this nation is not a nation of immigrants, it is a nation of conquerors and settlers, and pioneers” [applause and cheers] “And America is not just an idea, or an abstraction applicable to all human societies, as Charlie Kirk would have you believe. The people at CPAC define America simply by a creedal origin or speak of it like it’s a political ideology. We define America as a nation, and a nation as a people.” [applause] “And we must refuse to be afraid to defend western culture, which is responsible for creating all of the sustainable and economically prosperous societies that exist today.” [applause] “We cannot be afraid to say that demographic change, driven by mass legal immigration over the past 60 years, is a threat to our nation politically, financially, and yes, culturally.” [applause] “We cannot be afraid to say, it’s not cool to shill for Israel. It’s not, or any other foreign country… Republicans must no longer be afraid to ban things like drag story hour and the chemical castration as well as the physical mutilation of our children.”

James then proceeded to proclaim an apparent commitment to undemocratically censoring left political ideas, declaring that the Republicans “must not be afraid to bring an end to gender and race theory, which has poisoned the minds of millions of our children, as this sick, anti-scientific, ideology metastasizes in our nations’ schools.”

In the end, the GOP must realize that this is a “battle between good and evil,” James added. “We need loyalists, true believers, nationalists.”

Multiracial Fascism? Not…

If Nick Fuentes and Vincent James, both leaders in the “groyper wars,” used AFPAC II to provide prescient lessons in political frames of white nationalist mainstreaming, appearances by Michelle Malkin and Jon Miller offered instruction in how and why the handful of people of color allied with the movement offer service to the racist cause.

While some analysts have begun to describe an emerging “multiracial fascism” or stressing the alleged multiracial character of the American far-right, such approaches miss the point and trajectory of these movements.

From the time when Robert Brock, who was African-American, allied with the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and Native political writer David Yeagley spoke at meetings of the white nationalist group, American Renaissance, a handful of people of color have been known to ally with hardcore racists. Anti-Indian groups, similarly, have long had a smattering of Native people who joined their cause of overturning tribal sovereignty and treaty rights. And, it is usually their bigotries that bring them into an alliance with white nationalists.

One attendee at AFPAC II would later write an article about the event for the white nationalist VDARE driving home this point:

“Though the audience was overwhelmingly (and unashamedly) white, there were also a few black and Asian allies. (And not just Jon Miller, who joked from the stage about being a token black speaker.) I was lucky enough to find my way into an open seat next to Bryson Gray. Being a Boomer at thirty, I had no idea who he was, but luckily Jaden McNeil introduced us.”

Gray is African-American and a pro-Trump rapper known for his homophobic and anti-transgender lyrics.[11]

It is true that the libertarian ideas that run through more reactionary far-right groups, such as the Proud Boys, and their coupling to the “constitutionally”-constructed nationalism by many far-right paramilitaries and self-proclaimed “patriots” may have opened more ideological space for the inclusion of people of color in some organizations.

In the end, however, casting these as multiracial movements falls short of capturing their driving engines. Even these latter, non-white nationalist organizations, are overwhelmingly white in membership (at least as seen when they gather in large numbers at events); have no significant base in communities of color; have adopted racial ideologies that tend to aggressively deny the persistence of racism as an organizing factor in American society; attack black civil rights leaders and groups, such as Black Lives Matter, in reactionary fashion; promote brands of national identity often tied to defending “Western civilization;” espouse truncated versions of Christianity and build identities around earlier, pre-Civil Rights, versions of the U.S Constitution; and intertwine their national identities with attacks on immigrants and Muslims.

In the end, an over-riding feature of all of these movements is their existence in a context of broad white reaction against efforts to bring about racial and other forms of equality in the United States. An overriding utility of willing people of color to these racist movements includes their use in deflecting and denying accurate charges of racism.

Enter Michelle Malkin.

Michelle Malkin

Michelle Malkin at AFPAC II

Entering to chants of “mommy, mommy” from the AFPAC II crowd, anti-immigrant pundit Michelle Malkin stepped to the AFPAC II podium, proudly declaring, “Good evening America Firsters. Mommy is home.”

Thus began Malkin’s latest offering to the “groyper” movement, a campaign with which she had allied early, as Fuentes and others sought to push core white nationalist frames into the Trump-supporting-base of groups such as Turning Point USA and Young America’s Foundation – the latter having cut ties with Malkin over her loyalty to white nationalist Nick Fuentes.

Lamenting the removal of statues of Confederate Generals, Christopher Columbus, and the like, Malkin embraced the themes of Stop the Steal and conservative persecution, casting Trump as “our last legitimately elected president, Donald J Trump, deplatformed everywhere.”

Malkin then cut to the chase – launching into that aspect of her politics that has most aligned her with the “groypers” – an unrelenting drive across her career to attack immigrants. Calling CPAC “Cuckpack” – terminology likely picked up in “groyper” circles, and that denotes a right-wing and emasculating attack on mainstream conservatives – she offered her critique of CPAC:

“The number of mainstage presentations [at CPAC] focused on demographics and the impact of unrestrained illegal, and legal, on American workers is precisely zero. On birthright citizenship. Zero. On the so-called refugee resettlement program, racket….and the need for a total, immediate and complete immigration moratorium. Big fat zero. The number of breakout side panels dedicated to the southern border crisis is exactly one. One. And it was hosted tonight by who? Mercedes Schlap. Mercedes Schlap – Matt Schlap’s beltway, lobbyist, open borders wife. And as Vince mentioned to you earlier. She’s the same crapweasel who blocked American families of illegal alien crime from meeting with our America first president.”

Sounding a different tone on the closing day of CPAC, Donald Trump declared, “I want to thank my great friends, Matt and Mercedes Schlap, Matt, thank you. Mercedes, thank you very much. And the American Conservative Union for hosting this extraordinary event.”[12]

Continuing, Malkin offered another gift in service of white nationalism – a full-throated attack on any analysis and critique of whiteness as a political construct in American history – a well-established and well-documented field of study across multiple social science disciplines – even  embracing the phrase “historic American nation” – a euphemism deployed by white nationalists, including VDARE, with whom Malkin has a long-standing relationship, and Fuentes at AFPAC II, to mean the “white nation”:

“Now it’s the new hot thing. It’s allowed on Fox News to talk about critical race theory. This the coward’s way of talking about anti-white toxicity. That’s what it is! Will somebody on the main stage there [at CPAC] say ‘being white is not a crime,’ right; will they say that rejecting collective guilt is not a crime; refusing to acknowledge white privilege when you were born poor, or in a broken home, or with physical or psychological challenges is not a crime. Embracing the historic American nation, instead of erasing it, is not a crime.”

In the third nod to racism, Malkin attacked the Black Lives Matter movement to address police violence and racial inequality in the criminal justice system. Malkin declared that she was made “sick” watching “virtue-signaling police chiefs” kneeling before protestors and “watching sobbing white people groveling for forgiveness in front of sadistic black lives matter demagogues and washing their feet.”

Malkin continued, “No home or nation was ever saved by kowtowing to invaders or ransackers, and unless you’re praying to god, you better get the hell off your knees.”

Applause ensued, and Malkin responded back, “Mommy loves you.”

Jon Miller of the Blaze

Next up was Jon Miller, the African-American host of The White House Brief on BlazeTV, the right-wing media company formed in 2018 by the merger of Glenn Beck’s pay-TV network, The Blaze, and Conservative Review’s CRTV.[13]

Noting that he was at CPAC last year, Miller offered that AFPAC was “an enormous upgrade,” repeating the movement slogan that “America First is inevitable.”

Showing one track that led him to AFPAC train, Miller raised the issue of the alleged criminalization of conservative speech, adding that “the legendary Patrick Buchanan said…with its media collaborators, this counterculture has scarcely left an institution unscarred or an icon unsullied…It’s the undoing of American history, that is what they are trying to do, and that’s the stain on this country that is Black Lives Matter.” [applause] Miller continued that BLM “have destroyed buildings” and cities, “but at the end of the day what they are doing to America is so much more insidious, because they want to destroy this country to its foundation…They want to bring this country to the ground. It’s not the cities they want razed; it’s our legacies that your ancestors have built.” [applause].

Jon Miller’s citation of Patrick Buchanan as “legend” demonstrates a shared ideological influence with Nick Fuentes and the “groypers” – the racialized and nationalist ideology of paleoconservatism, as IREHR described in From Alt-Right to Groyper. Miller’s embrace of Buchanan is also an apparent embrace of racism, Buchanan’s book The Death of the West, for instance, being an ode to the idea of white dispossession that undergirds white nationalist and many other far-right groups.

Later, Miller displayed another pillar of his ideological alliance with white nationalists such as Fuentes – anti-immigrant politics and anti-Latinx bigotry:

“What is a black person’s role in the America First movement [Miller laughs] If you want to be real about it, we’re not a multi-ethnic country. We’re not. Maybe biracial at best. But they are importing literally hundreds of thousands of people in here to destroy this country and what it stands for and what it means.” [cheers] “At least blacks have, you know, great cultural contributions [Miller laughs] I mean, music, entertainment. I mean, when’s the last time you listened to a mariachi band.”

Miller also clarified the role he could play in the movement. Answering the self-posed question, “Who’s this normie black guy?” he continued, “You need someone… to launch the movement into the mainstream. You need someone who’s not just going to sit on stage and name them.” As Miller had followed Vincent James, who had just named America First’s mainstream enemies, after a short bit of muffled laughter, Miller added, “It’s a joke. I’m kidding.” Even so, he closed with a bit of advice on political mainstreaming and maintaining good optics [generally, in this movement, meaning not displaying crass signs and words of racism and bigotry]: “So, enjoy yourselves tonight. Don’t do anything stupid. Be optical. and don’t say anything I wouldn’t say.”

Before he closed, Miller declared, “I’m truly here because I believe in this cause…I’m truly here because I believe in America First, and I believe in everything that this movement is about and has been built on…God bless you, and God bless America First.”

The Quest for the Mainstream: Building a Base of Power for White Nationalism

From the days of Willis Carto and David Duke, white nationalists have sought to build a base of power to reshape America in their image. They have sought to adapt their message to a broader audience of whites, develop political and campaign skills, and throw their hat in the political arena in the hopes of winning elections and changing American political institutions to meet the dictates of their white nationalist, and generally fascist ideologies.

The American First Foundation’s America First Political Action Committee (AFPAC) II showed evidence of all of these elements.

AFPAC II, coming about a year after the first such event, evidences some gains on this front. The most public victory was the announcement that U.S. Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ) would be speaking at the conference.  Fresh off of a prominent role in the Stop the Steal mobilization, Gosar was heralded by AFPAC II alongside Steve King, the former U.S. Representative from Iowa who had endeared himself to racists through his willingness to spew core ideas of white nationalism.

But these were not the only mainstreaming victories for AFPAC II. The event also evidenced a core of far-right media support built up through the course of the “groyper” mobilization; the presence of white nationalist movement leaders, such as VDARE; the attendance by far-right figures Laura Loomer and Lauren Witzke, both having previously lost federal elections; and, perhaps most of all, the presence of Matt Braynard of Look Ahead America, and a onetime Director of Data and Strategy for the Trump campaign who brings a potentially significant body of technical skills to Nick Fuentes’ cause.

Let’s start first with Steve King and Paul Gosar and the ideological similarities between these men and the white nationalist vision behind AFPAC II.

Steve King and “Somebody Else’s Babies”

First, Steve King, who after thanking Nick Fuentes and Michelle Malkin for the invite, cut right to the chase:

“Here’s what I’m thinking from what I’ve seen and heard here tonight. And that is, you know, if you had to start a country from scratch, where would you go to find the folks to do it with? Right in this room…And the introduction [referring to a video that was shown to introduce him], you can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies. Well, I’ve got some advice for you. That, really, the best thing you can do is fall in love with somebody of the opposite sex, and go raise all the babies you can, and raise ‘em right, and they can be the next generation of America First.”

The subtext for the applause that followed was Steve King’s 2017 tweet in defense of rabidly anti-Muslim and nationalist Dutch politician Geert Wilders, in which King wrote, “Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”[15]

King had also previously demonstrated his dabbling with things racist, asking the New York Times in 2019, “White nationalists, white supremacists, western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”

At AFPAC II, his concern with demographics established, King defended Confederate statues and declared that the Confederate “battle flag” has “always been about southern pride” and that “they turned it into a symbol of evil slavery.” Citing challenges to the statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, King concluded that, “They were after the destruction of western civilization, and after the destruction of the American civilization.”

After a truncated “history” that included Moses, the Greeks, the Romans, and beyond, King read a 1607 prayer read at Jamestown, concluding that,

“This is a Judeo Christian nation, and out of this prayer, you can easily read manifest destiny and understand that this continent was, they believed, and I believe…God moved these founding fathers around like men on a chessboard to shape this nation. He went to a lot of trouble to do this…he went to a lot of trouble to place the Hebrews with the Egyptians and Greeks and the Romans where they were and lay the foundation of Western Europe and came with the English language, a language of freedom and liberty.”

In addition to embracing the patently racist “philosophy” of the genocidal westward expansion of the United States, and referencing his New York Times “white nationalist” experience, King offered that

“They had weaponized ‘white nationalist’ and ‘white supremacist’… In the 16 years prior to that, the word was used 1-200 times a year [in a LexisNexis search King claims to have done]. That’s it…When [liberal Jewish philanthropist George] Soros and company decided to weaponize ‘white nationalist,’ that was near the end of the year…The rest of the year, they used ‘white nationalist’ 10,000 times” and increased from there. “That tells you what they do to line up language against you…They did it with the Confederate flag.”

King here repeated claims he made in 2020 in Congress that George Soros had gathered with Democratic Party leaders in 2016 to “weaponize” terms such as “white nationalist, white supremacist, Nazi, and fascist” to deploy against Donald Trump and conservatives.[16]

King wrapped up by telling the crowd, “You’re battle warriors for a lifetime to restore the strength of America.” [applause] “And when you get done growing this organization, and more than tripling it next year, and doing that year after year after year and sweeping this country, and starting chapters on the campuses where you haven’t already started chapters, and bring more and more people into this movement, we can restore this country, and we can do it with our babies” [applause] “And we can do it with our values. God bless you all.”

APFAC II’s Biggest Catch: U.S. Representative Paul Gosar

If attracting King was a victory for Fuentes and company, their biggest catch of the day was the announcement the day of the event that U.S. Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ) would appear at the event. Gosar had been prominent in the Stop the Steal effort spreading misinformation about the election. He was credited by Stop the Steal leader Ali Alexander with helping organize the January 6 event that preceded the nationalist insurrection at the Capitol. Ali had also named U.S. Representatives Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and Mo Brooks (R-AL) as co-organizers. All three representatives appeared at CPAC.[17]

Gosar would also have the distinction of being the event’s most lackluster speaker, reading his remarks and stumbling through them at several points along the way. None of this undercut reception from the crowd, whom he greeted by saying, “We’re in the fight of our lifetime. ladies and gentlemen, thank you so very much for having me here tonight.”

Applause followed.

Declaring Donald Trump the “most conservative president in American history,” Gosar pledged that “I continue to support his America First agenda” and warned that “shadowy elites and the deep state continue to collude with big tech and big media to further disenfranchise President Trump and you, the American patriots.”

Listing his anti-immigrant credentials of opposing amnesty and “illegal immigration” and supporting Trump’s border wall, he continued the event’s overriding theme – that “a country without a border is not a country. A nation without a people is not a nation.” He went on to praise Michelle Malkin’s anti-immigrant book, Sold Out.

“We are freedom’s last stand in the world, and we must preserve the republic. This is fundamental to the America First agenda,” Gosar declared, before running through “a climate crisis of communists who suppress free speech, suppress our votes, suppress our citizens in favor of aliens, and undermine our republic.” He continued that we must “address election fraud” and “voter integrity’.

“America,” Gosar continued, “must remain a free and independent republic, not a globalistic watchdog;” “BLM and antifa burned citizens and towns;” and “the China virus was weaponized against President Trump and the American people…The alliance of big tech, big media, big businesses, the swamp, and the deep state is…not a conspiracy theory. The power structure did everything they could to defeat a populist, America First, president.”

He ended in a series of platitudes toward those gathered, proclaiming the AFPAC slogan that “America First is inevitable,” that declaring that “this is the era of America First, not some reincarnation of neocon control. In closing, he offered that,

“The choice is clear. America First or American decline. Thank you for having me…may God bless you and may God bless the united states of America.”

The Attendees and the Context Beyond

If CPAC and AFPAC addressed many of the same issues, we have seen above how Fuentes and company’s version of America First differ mainly in an explicit articulation of whiteness as a defining element of American national identity; a concomitant attempt to make racial demography a core movement issue; an explicit and ardent defense of whiteness; and a reactionary attack on any ideas that describe or challenge the place of white domination in American history and society.

In addition to these framings, the range of groups and individuals that attending AFPAC tell us other things about the movement and the strategic environment in which white nationalists like Nick Fuentes are operating.

In addition to representation from Vincent James of The Red Elephants, far-right media outlets present included National File and Big League Politics, both of which joined the fray while reporting on the “groyper” mobilization and represent a potential independent base of support built during that phase of the mobilization – National File even hosted Nick Fuentes along with antisemitic conspiracy theorist Alex Jones at a conference last year.

Also attending was Cassandra Fairbanks of The Gateway Pundit, a “groyper” fellow-traveler who wrote a February 27 article defending Paul Gosar’s attendance at AFPAC II, “Immediately, the anti-Trump media began declaring that the conference was ‘white nationalist,’ instead of American populist, and attempted to pressure CPAC into canceling his panel scheduled for Saturday morning.”[18] Fairbanks would post on Telegram “DEFEND PAUL GOSAR AT ALL COST” [capitals in original].[19] Fairbanks also attended the first AFPAC event in 2020.

Steve King’s encouragement that AFPACers start chapters on the campuses where you haven’t already started chapters” betrays not only the former legislator’s apparent knowledge of America First efforts on college campuses but also signals that these campus activists will be an ongoing target for white nationalist base building. The presence of America First Students leader Jaden McNeil adds further evidence of the continued importance of campus efforts to Fuentes’ cause.[20]

Another group represented at the event was the white nationalist VDARE, an organization headed by Peter Brimelow that has become a senior voice in the movement. The group has also had a long-standing relationship with Michelle Malkin, whose work it regularly publishes, and also covered the rise of the “groypers.” VDARE’s presence demonstrates the continued support these America Firsters can expect from established white nationalist groups.

In addition to attracting both a former and current U.S. Representative to the white nationalist show, other attendees at AFPAC II included Laura Loomer and Lauren Witzke. Laura Loomer is the self-described “Proud Islamophobe,” conspiracy theorist, and Proud Boys ally who lost her bid for Florida’s 21st District U.S. House seat in November 2020.[21] Similarly, Witzke is the far-rightist who lost her bid for the U.S. Senate in Delaware, praised the “patriot masculinity” of the Proud Boys, and tweeted a Qanon slogan.[22]

Laura Loomer would write on Telegram that, “AFPAC was great tonight. If you’re a Republican who calls yourself ‘America First,’ who attended CPAC, and you’re too scared to attend AFPAC, you’re not really America First.”[23] She also commented, “God bless Congressman Steve King! The Republican Party should be ashamed of itself for what they did to him. He’s an icon. And I will always stand by him and Congressman Paul Gosar.”[24]

In another possible avenue to support “America First” efforts, far-right U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) pledged to support candidates such as Laura Loomer while speaking at a meeting of the far-right nationalist group, Republicans for National Renewal (RNR).[25] Loomer and Paul Gosar also spoke at the RNR event.[26]

Republicans for National Renewal is one of several nationalist organizations with a foot in the Republican Party. IREHR will have more to say about them soon.

The presence of all four at the conference demonstrates some capacity to attract individuals potentially ready to toss their hat in the ring or with experience in campaigns that could prove useful in Fuente’s quest to primary Republicans not sufficiently supportive of Trump and the white nationalist cause.



[1] Reader. “I’m 30 But I Felt Old!” A VDARE.Com Lady Reader Reports on Nick Fuentes’ AFPAC Triumph. VDARE. March 2, 2012.

[2] This movement, and other far-right nationalist movements often dubbed populism, also have little in common with the substantive politics of the Populist movement of the 1890s. Despite its flaws, including ongoing commitment of part of its southern wing to emerging Jim Crow segregation, the Populist movement and People’s Party allied with the Knights of Labor and promoted the major labor issues of the day, advocated the nationalization of railways to address unfair pricing issues, endorsed a substantial federal intervention in the market to support farmers, sharecroppers and agricultural workers, promoted cooperative forms of work, and even allied with Chicago-based socialists. And, despite the persistence of racism and antisemisim in the movement, opposition to Jim Crow segregation also existed in the movement, paving the way for later Populist-Republican fusion campaigns that combined issue of economic inequality with civil rights issues of the era. Nothing in the modern far right and white nationalist movements portends any potential for building alliances supportive of economic democracy and the incorporation of the civil rights issues of the modern period.

[3]Fuentes: “We’re not asking for anything that is not afforded to every other group of people in this country. We’re not asking, we demand the dignity and the respect that we deserve. We are living in a multiracial society, and we will live in a multiracial society, but it is only going to work if everybody is respected, everybody is treated with dignity, everybody is afforded the same rights under the law as everybody else. This is a sovereignty issue because as I said, it is an attack on America as it exists and on its demographic core.”

[4] Fuentes: “And the right-wing movement has to be America First because of the current predicament that we find ourselves in. we have got to separate out and divorce in our minds America, as I’ve just described it, from the America regime…which consists of an elite media, Hollywood, academia, the deep state, the national security apparatus, the billionaire class, big business, big pharma, big tech, big agriculture, big energy. We have got to separate out the people in this country that are the country from those outsiders, the interlopers, impostors, the evil people that now rule this country. It’s gotta be separated.” [applause] The people that have built this system, this sick, evil corrupt system, reject the very existence of America, they reject the existence of the nations. The people that constitute the elite can be variously described as post-national, transnational, anti-national. They reject the idea that there even are nations. What they pursue, and what they want to achieve is total globalization, the erasure or borders, and the legal jurisdiction of the government, the erasure of the national economy of the united states, and its national sovereignty, and the erasure of its population. They are pursuing, to put it simply, three kinds of globalization. The globalization of the population through mass immigration; globalization of the economy through free trade; and the globalization of the government through global government under the pretext of universal global threats, made up threats, like climate change, white supremacy, and recently the Covid pandemic.” [applause] … ““So this is the real battlefield. This is the struggle and the fight and the war that we have been plunged into to. It is not a battle to stave off socialism in America…It is a battle between the globalist American regime, and the people that they rule, the Americans, the populists and the nationalists, the America Firsters…This is the political realignment that I’m describing. This is what must occur.”

[5]Fuentes: “The Republican response to cities being burned to the ground, to statues of our ancestors and heroes being torn down; the response to new holidays being created and old one’s discarded; and the creation, and don’t forget this, the creation of a new racial caste system in this country with whites at the bottom. If your reaction to all of that is to say that Black Lives Matter doesn’t really care about black lives; if your reaction to all of that is to say, what does burning down Minneapolis do for black people; if your response is to say that BLM is just too violent, or not moderate enough, then you are a traitor to the United States of America.” [applause] “Because what BLM is doing is they are challenging the very existence of the United States of America as it is, and the historic American nation. This challenge to the existence of our country must be matched and exceeded with equal veracity and intensity in defense of America.” [applause]

[6] Hsu, Spencer S. and Rachel Weiner. Right-wing UCLA student accused of sitting in vice president’s Senate chair during Capitol riot. The Washington Post. February 17, 2021.

[7] Gilbert, David. The FBI is investigating whether a Capitol rioter stole Nancy Pelosi’s laptop to set to Russia. ViceNews. January 18, 2021.

[8] Thompson, A.C. Members of Several Well-Known Hate Groups Identified at Capitol Riot. Frontline. January 9, 2021.

[9] Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights. From Alt-Right to Groyper: White Nationalist Rebrand for 2020 and Beyond.

[10] For The Red Elephants use of “Historic American Nation,” see Alvarado, Pedro. Democrats Introduce South African Style Land Confiscation Bill to Give Land To “Black Farmers.” The Red Elephants. November 24, 2020.; Alvarado, Pedro. Neocon Pundit Finally Realizes That Immigration Will End the Republican Party. The Red Elephants. October 15, 2020.; Alvarado, Pedro. Only Minorities Strongly Favor Universal Basic Income, Whites Strongly Oppose It. The Red Elephants. September 16, 2020.; for The Red Elephants obsession with racial demographics, see James, Vincent. Why Are Pro-White Messages Considered Hate Speech?. The Red Elephants. February 11, 2018.; James, Vincent. London Mayor Calls for ‘Stop and Frisk’ And Metal Detectors in Every School to Curb Knife Murders. The Red Elephants. April 8, 2018.; James, Vincent. In the Year 2050, Democrats Will Have 68 Million More Voters Alive Than Republicans. The Red Elephants. July 2, 2018. For these and many other The Red Elephant articles on racial demographics, search “demographic” at

[11] Reader. “I’m 30 But I Felt Old!” A VDARE.Com Lady Reader Reports on Nick Fuentes’ AFPAC Triumph. VDARE. March 2, 2012.; Bethea, Charles. His Grandma Was a Black Panther, But Bryson Gray is Pro-Life and Pro-Trump. The New Yorker. December 16, 2019.; Gravelly, Garret. WorldStarHipHop Posted A Truly Awful Pro-Trump Rap Song; And You’re Going to Hear It. The Dallas Observer. December 9, 2020.; Gray, Bryson. Pick a Side.; Gray Bryson. Everybody Hates Bryson.

[12] Vallejo, Justin. Donald Trump CPAC Speech- read the whole transcript. The Independent. March 1, 2021.

[13] Fischer, Sara. The real competitor to Trump TV. Axios. December 22, 2020.

[14] Look Ahead America. Leadership. Accessed March 3, 2021.

[15] Bump, Philip. Rep. Steve King warns that ‘our civilization can’t be restored with ’someone elses babies’. Washington Post. March 12, 2017.; King, Steve. Twitter. March 12, 2017.

[16] King, Steve. The Weaponization of Language. Congressional Record Volume 166, Number 6. Government Publishing Office. (Friday, January 10, 2020.

[17] Armus, Teo. A ‘Stop the Steal’ organizer, now banned by Twitter, said three GOP lawmakers helped plan his D.C. rally. Washington Post. January 13, 2021.

[18] Fairbanks, Cassandra. Liberals and Never-Trumpers Team Up to Attack Rep. Paul Gosar for Powerful ‘America First’ Speech. The Gateway Pundit. February 27, 2021.

[19] Fairbanks, Cassandra. Telegram. February 26, 2021.

[20] Reader. “I’m 30 But I Felt Old!” A VDARE.Com Lady Reader Reports on Nick Fuentes’ AFPAC Triumph. VDARE. March 2, 2012.

[21] Prusher, Illene. Anti-Muslim, pro-Proud Boys Laura Loomer faces and unflappable Lois Frankel. Forward. October 1, 2020.; Behrmann, Savannah. Lara Trump campaign with far-right candidate and conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer. USA Today. September 2, 2020.

[22] Castronuovo, Celine. GOP Senate candidate defends ‘patriotic masculinity’ of the Proud Boys. The Hill. October 1, 2020.

[23] Loomer, Laura. Telegram. February 26, 2021.

[24] Loomer, Laura. Telegram. February 26, 2021.

[25] Loomer, Laura. Telegram. February 28, 2021.

[26] Loomer, Laura. Telegram. March 3, 2021.

Chuck Tanner

Author Chuck Tanner

Chuck Tanner is an Advisory Board member and researcher for the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights. He lives in Washington State where he researches and works to counter white nationalism and the anti-Indian and other far right social movements.

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