Paul Gosar Spoke At A White Nationalist Conference. The GOP Doesn't Care.

Written by on March 5, 2021

Final week a sitting U.S. congressman delivered a keynote speech at a white nationalist convention in Florida. 

“Wow, what a gaggle,” Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) mentioned as he took his place behind a podium emblazoned with the letters “AFPAC” — an acronym for America First Political Motion Convention, the second annual gathering of the white nationalist “groyper” motion

After talking about “cancel tradition,” Huge Tech’s supposed censorship of right-wingers, and the necessity for a giant border wall to maintain “America First,” Gosar mentioned goodbye to the AFPAC crowd, who’d traveled from throughout the nation to attend the key gathering inside the Hilton Orlando. 

“Could God bless you,” Gosar mentioned. “And will God bless the USA of America.”

The gang — a motley crew of unabashed racists and anti-Semites — broke right into a chant of “Gosar! Gosar!” to which the congressman responded with a wave, a smile and what appeared like an earnest, heartfelt “Thanks.” 

AFPAC’s organizer, white nationalist figurehead Nick Fuentes, took the stage subsequent, telling the gang that “white individuals are performed being bullied” and that America wants to guard its “white demographic core.”

The following day, Fuentes and Gosar sat down for espresso, in response to a photograph Fuentes posted to Twitter. 

“Nice assembly as we speak with Congressman Gosar,” tweeted Fuentes, a 22-year-old Holocaust denier who as soon as in contrast Jews killed in Nazi fuel chambers to cookies baking in an oven. “America is actually uncancelled.”

Gosar’s AFPAC look generated a flurry of media protection, and rightly so: It’s newsworthy, and deeply alarming, that an elected U.S. congressman feels snug publicly palling round with dyed-in-the-wool white nationalists. Gosar didn’t instantly return a request for touch upon his AFPAC look.

Within the week since AFPAC, the Republican Social gathering has but to rebuke Gosar. HuffPost this week reached out to the places of work of seven distinguished Republican politicians — together with Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Home Minority Chief Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) — to see whether or not they would condemn Gosar for attending an explicitly white nationalist convention. None responded. 

HuffPost additionally contacted the Nationwide Republican Congressional Committee and the Republican Nationwide Committee, asking whether or not they would condemn the congressman. 

Solely the RNC responded, sending a boilerplate assertion that didn’t particularly reprimand Gosar in any respect. “There isn’t a place for anti-Semitism or racism within the Republican Social gathering,” RNC spokesman Tommy Piggot mentioned. “We condemn it within the strongest doable phrases.”

Gosar, who got here into workplace in 2011, emerged as one in every of former President Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters in Washington lately, and is amongst a cadre of far-right lawmakers who devoted the previous few months to attempting to overturn the outcomes of the 2020 election. Gosar himself helped set up and promote the Jan. 6 rally that become an riot on the Capitol.

The GOP’s silence about his latest attendance at a white nationalist convention is without doubt one of the clearest indicators but of an American conservative motion totally unreformed and unrepentant since Trump’s electoral defeat, and exhibits one in every of America’s two main political events beholden as ever to a white majoritarian, anti-democratic agenda. 

It’s maybe why a crew of merciless college-aged “America First” fascists discover the GOP to be such a fertile recruiting floor. 

‘The Hearth Rises!’ 

It’s onerous to overstate how excessive and loathsome Fuentes and his cohort actually are. 

Fuentes attended the 2017 “Unite the Proper” white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the place he stood alongside neo-Nazis, one in every of whom drove his automotive into a gaggle of anti-fascists, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.

Afterwards, Fuentes wrote on Fb that the rally had been “unimaginable.” 

“The rootless transnational elite is aware of {that a} tidal wave of white id is coming,” he wrote. “And so they know that when the phrase will get out, they won’t be able to cease us. The fireplace rises!” 

Within the years for the reason that Charlottesville rally, Fuentes has hosted a sequence of podcasts, most notably “America First,” which he’s livestreamed on varied video platforms, together with YouTube. 

The livestreams incessantly characteristic Fuentes in a swimsuit and tie, sitting in entrance of some crudely green-screened cityscape, spewing racist invective

“Sufficient with the Jim Crow stuff,” Fuentes mentioned in a single episode, defending the fear that was racial segregation within the pre-Civil Rights period South. “Who cares? ‘Oh, I needed to drink out of a distinct water fountain.’ Huge fucking deal. Oh no, they needed to go to a distinct college. And even when it was unhealthy, who cares? It was higher for them, it’s higher for us.”

The podcast earned Fuentes a loyal following and a supply of earnings, and it made him a serious identify within the far proper.

By 2019 he had teamed up with Patrick Casey, former chief of the hate group Identification Evropa, to steer a brand new coalition calling itself the “Groyper Military,” a reputation taken from their on-line talisman: a cartoon toad carefully associated to the alt-right’s Pepe the Frog. (Followers of Fuentes and the “America First” motion name themselves “groypers.”)

Fuentes and Casey sought to make use of a political technique known as “entryism,” which in accordance to The Institute for Analysis and Schooling on Human Rights is the follow of “gaining a spot in additional mainstream organizations by moderating one’s look and expressed values to be able to additional motion objectives.” 

Groypers, most of whom are of their early 20s, introduced themselves in public as merely clean-cut younger Republicans, carrying Make America Nice Once more hats and waving blue “America First” flags. When Fuentes turned up at varied MAGA rallies with a megaphone final 12 months, he didn’t preach for the need of a white ethnostate or homeland — although that’s precisely what he desires — however as an alternative talked of preserving “heritage,” utilizing phrases he is aware of are extra palatable to the common Republican. 

The groypers turned fierce proponents of Trump’s marketing campaign to overturn the outcomes of the 2020 presidential election, and have been fixtures at “Cease the Steal” demonstrations throughout the nation. 

On the Jan. 4, 2021 episode of his podcast, broadcast on the streaming service DLive, Fuentes mentioned killing state lawmakers who hadn’t proven enough assist for protecting Trump in energy. 

“What are you able to and I do to a state legislator — apart from kill him?” Fuentes mentioned. “We should always not try this. I’m not advising that, however I imply, what else are you able to do, proper?”

Two days later, Fuentes was serving to lead the violent riot on the Capitol — although he claims he by no means entered the constructing itself. He hasn’t been charged or arrested for his function that day. 

“Maintain shifting in direction of the Capitol — it seems we’re taking the Capitol again!” he advised a crowd of cheering supporters by means of a megaphone. 

“Break down the boundaries and disrespect the police. The Capitol belongs to us,” he added. 

Even because the mud settled from the riot, because the demise and destruction it had induced got here into clearer focus, and although a few of his groyper followers had been arrested for his or her function within the riot, Fuentes defended the violence that had taken place. 

And when he took the stage at AFPAC final week, talking simply after congressman Gosar, Fuentes described the enjoyment the riot had introduced him. 

“I noticed tons of of hundreds of patriots surrounding the U.S. Capitol constructing, I noticed the police retreating, and we heard that the politicians voting on the fraudulent election had scurried to their underground tunnels away from the Capitol,” he mentioned. “I mentioned to myself: ‘That is superior!’”

The New Steve King

Gosar was a foremost organizer of the Jan. 6 “Cease the Steal” demonstration that become the lethal riot, selling it for weeks whereas calling President Joe Biden an “illegitimate usurper” and arguing that Trump was the sufferer of a “coup.”

He has an extended historical past of political extremism, spending his 10 years in workplace typically hobnobbing with extremist teams in America and even overseas. 

Gosar is carefully tied to the far-right militia the Oath Keepers. A frontrunner of the group just lately claimed Gosar as soon as advised the militiamen that America was already in a civil struggle. “We simply haven’t began capturing but,” Gosar allegedly mentioned. 

He as soon as traveled to Nevada to assist different far-right militiamen in an armed standoff with federal authorities; he’s posed for a picture with a member of the Proud Boys, a violent neo-fascist avenue gang; and one other time flew all the best way to London to talk at a rally in assist of a jailed anti-Muslim activist. 

He’s confronted little penalties for these associations, routinely successful re-election and having fun with the assist of his Republican colleagues in Washington. 

However will that assist finish? Gosar may discover a cautionary story in one in every of his fellow AFPAC audio system: former Iowa congressman Steve King

King spent 9 phrases in Congress and have become infamous for his bigotry. HuffPost additionally uncovered King’s deep ties to white supremacists in America and abroad

However for the majority of his time in Congress, the GOP by no means actually punished King for his extremism, and due to Iowa’s outsized function within the presidential main, Republican candidates for president routinely courted him for his endorsement. 

It was solely after King almost misplaced re-election to a Democrat in his deeply conservative district in 2018 that his fellow Republicans began to activate him, abruptly feeling the occasional must condemn his bigotry. 

Then, in Jan. 2019, King made remarks condoning white supremacy in an interview with The New York Occasions. “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language turn out to be offensive?” King advised the newspaper. “Why did I sit in lessons instructing me concerning the deserves of our historical past and our civilization?”

The response from Republicans was unusually swift. McCarthy stripped King of his committee assignments, rendering him a lame-duck congressman. 

Then a strong coalition of GOP figures poured cash into the marketing campaign of his Republican main opponent. In June 2020, King misplaced his main election, bringing a shock finish to his 20 years in workplace. 

The lesson of King’s story, although, isn’t that the GOP took a stand towards white supremacy; it’s that the GOP acted towards him solely when his extremism turned a political legal responsibility. 

HuffPost contacted the places of work of seven Republican lawmakers this week who had beforehand condemned King for his feedback about white nationalism, asking in the event that they’d condemn Gosar for talking at a white nationalist convention. 

McCarthy and McConnell’s places of work didn’t reply. Nor did the places of work of Sens. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Ted Cruz (Texas), or Tim Scott (R-S.C.). 

Scott, one of many few Black Republicans in Washington, wrote a Washington Put up op-ed about King in 2019. “Why are Republicans accused of racism?” the headline requested. “As a result of we’re silent on issues like this.” 

That silence has penalties, permitting white nationalists just like the groypers extra room to develop and set up contained in the get together. 

“Because the GOP struggles to chart its post-Trump future, the groypers are decided to maneuver their model of express white nationalism deeper into the conservative mainstream,” Ben Lorber, a analysis analyst at Political Analysis Associates, advised HuffPost.  

“Securing Gosar’s public assist is a disturbing step in that path,” he mentioned, “and will open the door for extra elected officers to courtroom the motion and its politics.”

The day after Gosar spoke at AFPAC, he was a featured panelist at one other convention: the Conservative Political Motion Convention, or CPAC, additionally in Orlando. 

CPAC has lengthy been the premier annual gathering of the American proper, the place presidents and senators and members of Congress mingle with activists and journalists. By the point Gosar took the CPAC stage, his look on the groyper convention had turn out to be a information story.

Like several good groyper, Gosar sought to dial down his extremism, and to obscure it. “I wish to inform you, I denounce . . . white racism,” he advised the CPAC crowd. “That’s not acceptable.”

Later requested by a Washington Put up reporter why he went to AFPAC, Gosar responded: “We thought of it, and we thought: There’s a group of younger folks which are changing into a part of the election course of, and changing into a much bigger drive, so why not take that vitality and hearken to what they’ve received to say?” 

Requested by the identical reporter if he regretted talking to that group of cheering racists and Holocaust deniers, Gosar replied, “you don’t accomplish something by isolating” and never talking to some folks. 

“It’s all the time concerning the debate,” he mentioned. “That’s the way you develop.”

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