July 08, 2021
Nicholas Fuentes hosting his weekly livestream "America First with Nicholas Fuentes"
1. Nicholas Fuentes is a white supremacist leader, organizer and podcaster who seeks to forge a white nationalist alternative to the mainstream GOP.
Nicholas Fuentes first gained widespread notoriety in 2017 when he left Boston University after he reported receiving “threats” tied to his attendance at the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
He has since become a well-known white supremacist pundit and organizer who has united disparate groups within what was until recently known as the alt right. In 2017, Fuentes began hosting his livestream show "America First with Nicholas J. Fuentes," which attracted a cult-like following. Fuentes refers to these supporters as “Groypers” or the “Groyper Army,” who see their bigoted views as necessary to preserve white, European-American identity and culture. They believe that the mainstream conservative movement is just as responsible as liberals and the left for destroying white America, and that Groypers are the true future of the conservative movement.
In early 2022, the Groyper movement saw significant in-fighting after former members Jaden McNeil and Simon Dickerman, both former leaders of the America First Foundation, appeared on a livestream alleging that Nick Fuentes was operating a “pyramid scheme” and no longer reflected true conservative “Christian” values. Since then, several Groypers have left the movement, including Ryan Sanchez, a former Rise Above Movement (R.A.M.) member and Groyper, who posted in May 2022, “”Groypers, join your fellow Christian activists and walk away from the collapsing “America First” movement.
Fuentes seeks to carve out a space that deliberately and publicly challenges the mainstream conservative movement while doubling down on themes central to the white supremacist movement. Fuentes and his America First adherents vocally support the closure of the U.S. borders to immigrants, while opposing “liberal” values such as feminism and LGBTQ+ rights. Fuentes views these societal changes as the “bastardized Jewish subversion of the American creed. The Founders never intended for America to be a refugee camp for nonwhite people.” He often uses his platform to further conspiracy theories about the impending destruction of the white race, also known as “white genocide.” In one Tweet, Fuentes stated, “Our civilization is being dismantled, our people are being genocided, and conservatives can’t think past what will play well with liberal media in the next election.”
His podcast, titled “America First,” was initially inspired by the speeches and platform of former President Donald Trump. However, Fuentes later adopted the term for his own purposes after distancing himself from the GOP platform to attract young conservatives. Fuentes and his followers angrily objected to the Trump administration’s embrace of Israel, as well as mainstream conservatives’ support for “globalism,” (a right-wing slur/theory about a cabal of elites who are controlling the world), “endless wars” and other issues they felt ran counter to a truly “America First” agenda. On November 26, 2022, Fuentes posted on Telegram, “Trump and MTG [Marjorie Taylor Greene] are being used as bait to lure the base back to supporting people like Kevin McCarthy, Ronna McDaniel, and Rick Grenell. I didn’t leave the MAGA movement…the MAGA movement left me.”
In an effort to further distance himself from the mainstream GOP, Fuentes founded the America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC) in 2020. AFPAC ostensibly serves as a counterweight to the annual CPAC event held at the same time, which is largely attended by mainstream conservative activists and elected officials. In 2021, AFPAC included a variety of right-wing pundits, including Michelle Malkin and Steve King, along with white supremacists like Vincent James Foxx of the Red Elephant. Speakers expressed contempt for the Republican Party, describing members as sell-outs willing to betray their constituents.
2) Nicholas Fuentes believes that he is working to defend against “leftist” cultural changes that are destroying the “true America:” a white, Christian nation.
While Fuentes promotes white supremacist beliefs, he adamantly claims not to be a white supremacist, calling the term an “anti-white slur.” Rather, Fuentes positions himself as “Christian conservative” who opposes societal shifts – on immigration, abortion and more -- as nefarious efforts, led by the left, to fundamentally erode America’s Christian values. This cloaking of ideology is a ploy to attract mainstream support.
Fuentes often pulls on themes prevalent in the white supremacist Great Replacement Theory, or what Fuentes calls “Great Replacement REALITY.” This idea focuses on the belief that native white Europeans are being replaced in their own countries by non-white immigrants from Africa and the Middle East, leading to the extinction of the white race. Fuentes tweeted in June, “If you are a White male zoomer, remember that the people in power hate you and your unborn children and they will try to genocide you in your lifetime.” In February 2022, Fuentes told AFPAC attendees, “To the people that have thrown out and disrupted our country. We are coming for you. Your days in power are numbered. You think you can replace us? You are wrong. We will replace you!...We are willing, ultimately, to die for our cause…And I don’t say that glibly, I am willing to die for this cause.” He added, “Do you want to know our secret? Our secret sauce? It is these young. white. men.”
Fuentes attempts to mainstream his extreme ideology by aligning himself with “Christianity” and “traditional” values. In a November 26, 2022, livestream, Fuentes said, “My overriding belief…is that God is real, Jesus Christ is God, and yet the country is run by people that don’t believe this, and don’t live by this. And we’ve talked about who they are, they are largely Jewish…We’ve got to save our country, tell the truth, and have Christian leadership.” Fuentes previously asserted that even though adherents of the America First movement are “sheep among the wolves and the snakes,” they will ultimately prevail as they “have the protection of God and Jesus.”
Fuentes rejects the mainstream Republican Party, claiming that many Groypers, including himself, were once strong Trump supporters but are now angry that the Republican Party is not doing enough to deal with demographic and cultural changes that affect the white population in the U.S. According to Fuentes, “the new Republican Party is the party of climate change, universal health care and black lives matter.” Fuentes and his followers often dress in suits and ties to project a “mainstream” conservative image, highlighting the Groyper’s central goal of disrupting and replacing the established GOP. Fuentes says his vision is to “redefine the right-wing by solidifying the political realignment that Donald Trump initiated in 2016” under the banner, slogan and principles of America First.
Like many other right-wing extremists, Fuentes often blankets his bigoted beliefs in sarcasm and ironic humor; he uses cartoonish memes and “just joking” banter, all while spreading white supremacist propaganda. During an April 2022 taping of his show, Fuentes responded to an audience member’s question about how to respond to his wife “getting out of line,” saying, “Why don’t you give her a vicious and forceful backhanded slap with your knuckles right across her face – disrespectfully – and make it hurt?...Just kidding of course…just a joke…I would never lay a hand on a women, unless she had it coming.” Fuentes often uses terms like “culture” as substitutes for more divisive terms such as “race,” and promotes “American values” as a code for white culture and identity. Fuentes largely avoids blatant white supremacist language, and instead focuses on anti-establishment thinking targeting the GOP, mainstream media and “leftists.” This strategy, along with adoption of mainstream meme culture like Pepe the Frog, allows the America First movement to attract younger, mainstream conservatives, who are then exposed to the group’s extremist ideology.
3) Fuentes has used his platforms to make numerous antisemitic and racist comments.
Fuentes has made a number of racist and antisemitic comments under the guise of being provocative and ironic. For example, he has referred to Daily Wire columnist Matt Walsh as “shabbos goy race traitor” because he works for Jews (Ben Shapiro, a Jewish conservative, runs the Daily Wire). On a livestream episode, Fuentes “jokingly” denied the Holocaust and compared Jews burnt in concentration camps to cookies in an oven. On May 24, 2021, Fuentes participated in a debate on right-wing conspiracist Alex Jones’ InfoWars with Robert Barnes, a man described as a “constitutional lawyer” who has legally defended both Jones and Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse. During the debate, Fuentes made numerous antisemitic remarks, including, "I don’t see Jews as Europeans and I don’t see them as part of Western civilization, particularly because they are not Christians.” In April, Fuentes appeared to urge mainstream Republicans to champion an antisemitic focus on “Jewish control,” tweeting, “The next big frontier for populist and conservative inc [sic; this is the America First term for establishment GOPers] to coopt [sic] is discussing Jewish Power. Somehow I don’t think they’ll broach that one!”
Fuentes asserts that “whites are under attack” and that minorities are changing the “texture of life” in America. Fuentes often speaks about the white supremacist ideas of “race realism,” a belief that one’s race governs traits such as behavior and intelligence – with non-whites being inferior to whites. For example, Fuentes tweeted, “Any serious person thinking about globalization and demographic changes should actually care a lot about racial differences in intelligence. But this subject doesn’t “interest” you because it’s not convenient for your trojan horse brand of kosher nationalism.”
Recently, Fuentes used the aftermath of the Derek Chauvin verdict as proof that minorities are “being put at the top of a racial caste system.” During the 2021 AFPAC, Fuentes remarked further on the rising civil rights movement championed by Black Lives Matter, stating “White people founded this country. This country wouldn’t exist without white people…people are done being bullied.” Fuentes has also made racist comments asserting that segregation and policies in the pre-civil rights-era American South “was better for them, it’s better for us, it’s better in general.”
Fuentes has repeatedly been suspended from a number of social media and video and audio sharing platforms, including YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, TikTok, Spotify, Venmo, Stripe, Clubhouse as well as numerous others, for violating terms of policy with his hateful, bigoted rhetoric and imagery. Most recently, he was banned from his podcast streaming service, DLive, following his attendance at the pro-Trump rally on January 6, and now hosts his show on Alex Jones’ platform, Banned.Video.
On October 12, 2021, Fuentes released a live-streaming platform called Cozy.tv, a new way for Groypers to release extreme content on a platform shielded from deplatforming. Fuentes describes the platform as “the only site on the internet where live streamers can stream without being censored...This is the only place you can truly say is censorship proof, independent, and works.”
Various white supremacists and other extremists have since migrated to Cozy.tv, and the site now hosts 68 channels and includes shows from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and GAB founder Andrew Torba.
4) Fuentes has branded himself “the most cancelled man in America” in the face of backlash for promoting election fraud narratives, encouraging his adherents to participate in 2021’s nationwide “Stop the Steal” protests and attending the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Fuentes served as an organizer and speaker at many “Stop the Steal” protests leading up to the January 6 attack on the Capitol including protests in Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and Washington, DC. Fuentes attended the Million MAGA March in November alongside fellow Groypers, where he addressed a crowd of American Firsters, stating, “We are not going to live as captives. This is our Republican Party. This is our country. USA!” In the days leading up to January 6, Fuentes continued to promote the myth of election fraud. On January 4, Fuentes posted a video on DLive tacitly urging followers to kill state legislators, before he seemed to backpedal: “What can you and I do to state legislators besides kill them? Although, I’m not advising that, but I mean, what else are you going to do?” In the lead up to January 6, Fuentes received an estimated $250,000 (13.5 bitcoins) in donations, supporting his attendance at the rally in Washington, DC.
Fuentes and other members of America First were present at the Capitol on January 6, about which Fuentes said, “This is awesome...we have been beat up and betrayed and spit on and stepped on for decades. And to see the tables turned for once was a little bit refreshing.” Fuentes was seen that day giving a speech near the Capitol encouraging his followers to “keep moving towards the Capitol – it appears we are taking the Capitol back!” While Fuentes does not appear to have physically entered the Capitol building, individuals wearing America First merchandise appeared in videos and images inside the building.
Following the attack on the Capitol, Fuentes claimed that his bank account has been frozen, he had been placed on the federal no-fly list, and had been banned from Airbnb, Facebook and Instagram. Fuentes described these actions as “overt political persecution.” Due to this alleged ban, Fuentes was unable to attend the Big Tech Press Conference in Florida, an event he organized with a variety of right-wing pundit speakers including Michele Malkin and Laura Loomer. Although Fuentes links his no-fly status to the Capitol riot, Fuentes reportedly had an altercation on a December flight over the issue of mask mandates. On May 2, 2022, Fuentes announced on his Telegram that he had been removed from the no-fly list.
Fuentes has sought to capitalize on this, regularly describing himself as “the most canceled man in America” or “the most censored man alive,” arguing that his deplatforming proves that he “challenges the status quo of the system” by “defending American identity and protesting mass migration.” In a livestream on November 26, 2022, Fuentes claimed he was cancelled because he refuses “to stop asking questions about the state of Israel, and the dynamic between Israel and the United States…refused to stop asking questions and talking about the true nature of power in America.”
5) Fuentes has been embraced and praised by far right-wing and mainstream conservatives, providing him a larger platform for elevating the America First movement.
Fuentes has been embraced by a variety of figures on the far-right, from the fringe wing of GOP figures to dedicated white supremacists. His success in attracting a sizeable attendance—as well as right wing-influencers and elected officials—to his events, like AFPAC and the Big Tech Conference in Florida, show the rallying effect of Fuentes and the America First movement. Right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin, who has recently embraced white supremacist rhetoric, has aligned herself with the America First movement, praising their “shared mission to end mass migration, restore law and order, and conserve and uphold actual conservative values.”
Fuentes has attracted the attention of elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona’s 4th congressional district. Fuentes claimed to be hosting a fundraiser and roundtable event in honor of Rep. Paul Gosar on July 2nd in Phoenix, Arizona. While Gosar has in the past participated in America First events, including the 2021 AFPAC, Gosar claimed to have had no prior knowledge of this fundraiser. At the February 2022 AFPAC gathering, Gosar delivered the keynote address via video.
Fuentes’ annual America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC) continues to attract a range of media personalities and political figures, including elected officials. On February 25, 2022, in addition to white supremacists like Vincent James, four elected officials – Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, and Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers – were speakers. This was some speakers’ second time attending the conference.
On November 22, 2022, Fuentes attended a dinner alongside former President Donald Trump and rapper Ye at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. During the dinner, Fuentes voiced his admiration for Trump but expressed his disappointment with Trump’s 2024 “moderate” platform, claiming in a subsequent livestream that he believes it is a step back “in the service of Christ, in service of the truth, and the service of America.”
Fuentes and other Groypers have expressed support for rapper Ye’s 2024 presidential bid, saying they believe he represents true Christian values. In a November 26, 2022, livestream, Fuentes announced that he would be taking a step back from his America First show to forge a new path "personally and professionally in the political world,” apparently alongside Ye. He added that he would postpone the annual 2023 AFPAC event.
Mainstream figures’ embrace of Fuentes represents a historical shift in the white supremacist movement, prompting, among other things, widespread media coverage of a prominent white supremacist. Ye’s support for Fuentes, and a former president’s willingness to sit down and discuss politics with a known extremist, starkly illustrates the continuing shift of the so-called Overton Window – the parameters of what is considered “normal” or “acceptable” – in American society. Fuentes will continue to use this shift to grow his following in extreme circles and, potentially, in the larger conservative movement.