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Charlie Kirk has long tried to keep Nick Fuentes and his white nationalist “America First groyper army” out of Turning Point USA events. Last month’s AmericaFest 2021 in Phoenix, AZ, however, showed the clashing conservative subcultures are merging closer than ever. Fuentes has been determined to nudge the mainstream of right-wing politics into embracing white nationalism for years and his influence swept over the convention, despite his lack of physical presence. His signature blue “America First” hats were seen throughout the conference and TPUSA has shifted their messaging to (somehow) become even more nationalistic. Kirk has also started to focus on “white identity” issues, adopting a stricter anti-immigrant stance and openly pushing the white supremacist “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory.
On December 19, the second night of the 4-day convention, a the groypers and their allies held their own conference across the street from the Turning Point convention with over a dozen GOP candidates, politicians and conservative influencers. Kirk can no longer contain the (even more) extremist elements of “Con Inc.” as nefarious actors are using these TPUSA events to recruit and influence young,career-minded right-wingers.
“It’s a Wonderful Nation” was hosted by the self-described nationalist organization Republicans for National Renewal (RNR) and the “America First” youth group, American Populist Union (APU). The poster advertising the paid event was a play on the 1946 Christmas classic “It’s A Wonderful Life.” The movie was once investigated during the Red Scare for “Communist Infiltration of the Motion Picture Industry”—a bit of history that RNR probably doesn’t care about because the film has old-timey white American aesthetics on the label.
Republicans for National Renewal’s leadership team includes Mark Ivanyo, Diodato “Dio” Boucsieguez, Seth Segal, (who is also the president of the NYC chapter of Turning Point Faith) and Shane Trejo. Trejo works as the Grassroots Director for RNR, serves as a GOP chairman for Michigan’s 11th District Committee, and he formerly hosted a neo-nazi podcast with a member of the white supremacist group Identity Evropa. The “Blood, Soil, and Liberty” podcast (alluding to the Nazi slogan, “blood and soil”) was hosted by Identity Evropa member Alex Witoslawski and RNR’s Trejo. As LCRW previously reported, episode names of Trejo’s podcast included titles like “It’s Okay to Be White, Right, and Christian” and “Tanner Flake for Fuhrer” referencing Arizona ex-senator Jeff Flake’s son who made news after his violently racist social media handle and comments were exposed. The Identity Evropa-linked group was at AmericaFest throughout the weekend and hosted a booth at Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit earlier this year.
Though the far-right reception was technically unaffiliated with Turning Point’s AmericaFest, most of the speakers and guests attended both events. In fact, several TPUSA influencers were seen mingling in the room filled with white nationalists. Pizzagater Jack Posobiec, who joined TPUSA’s team in early 2021, was a featured speaker at both events. Turning Point’s Enterprise Director, Austin Smith and influencer Isabella Riley were in the audience, as well as Charlie Kirk’s own producers Beni Rae Harmony and Connor Clegg who recently declared “it’s not enough to be transphobic, we must become anti-transgenderism.”
The other host group, American Populist Union is a Gen-Z conservative youth movement that models itself after Nick Fuentes and the groypers. APU also mimics Fuentes’ habit of hosting themselves across from Turning Point events, like AmericaFest or the Student Action Summit where the sound of Fuentes’ name was met with chants. During his speech, the co-founder of APU, Vince Dao, noted that their organization is also modeled after white nationalist Patrick Buchanan’s brand of paleoconservatism.
“To be America First really means that one must be against every arbiter of the decades of Marxist cultural propaganda that has pushed the sexual revolution, destroyed the traditional family, and erased the Christian heritage of our country” Dao told the crowd.
John Doyle and Jack Francis aka “Red Eagle Politics,” both guests in the audience, watched their friend Dao give his speech. Together, they had all previously attended 76Fest, an outdoor meetup which the organizers have described as “Hitler Youth without the Hitler.” Besides the more popular influencers within the groyper movement, the Christmas reception was also joined by fascist street videographer Tomas Morales, who regularly associates and films propaganda for the Proud Boys and other right-wing extremist groups. Morales was in Arizona during summer 2021 for a Nick Fuentes-inspired “White Boy Summer” groyper meetup. White Boy Summer AZ was hosted by white nationalist Greyson Arnold and guest-listed neo-Nazis like Ryan “Culture War Criminal” Sanchez and Jared “Woozah” Nobel. Usually strict about recording their events, Morales was given filming access for the Republicans for National Renewal party.
Greyson Arnold was in also attendance for TPUSA’s AmericaFest and Republicans for National Renewal’s It’s A Wonderful Nation, appearing in photos with Charlie Kirk and AZ GOP chairwoman Kelli Ward. Arnold can be spotted with the capitol rioters on Jan. 6th amongst groyper figureheads Nick Fuentes and Jaden McNeil and members of the white supremacist European Heritage Association. A far-right YouTuber, Arnold usually interviews fellow white nationalists like conspiracy theorist Lauren Witzke, Vincent James Foxx, Baked Alaska, Jared “Woozah” Nobel, and the Republicans for National Renewal’s Shane Trejo. After giving an interview on his YouTube channel, Oregon RNC official Solomon Yue denounced Arnold for his previous comments for calling Nazis “the pure race,” desiring the death of immigrants, and saying that Adolph Hitler is a “misunderstood” historical figure.
Two more groyper guests at both It’s a Wonderful Nation and Greyson Arnold’s White Boy Summer were Kyle Clifton and violent “antimasker” Ethan Schmidt. Schmidt, Arnold, and Clifton have a hobby of harassing workers in Arizona for enforcing Covid restrictions, filming people at Covid testing sites, and occasionally assaulting people in medical masks (including targeting cancer patients). Schmidt and Arnold have also traveled to California to join the Proud Boys and antivaxx groups harassing people. Their presence amongst the Arizona GOP wasn’t out of the ordinary, as AZ gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake has refused to denounce her association with Schmidt and Arnold.
Several far-right college organizations were also in attendance for It’s a Wonderful Nation. Arizona State University’s College Republicans United and their new sister chapter from University of Arizona were guests in the audience. College Republicans United has had difficulty gaining official sponsorship at Arizona colleges due to their history of controversy, hosting antisemitic white nationalist Tim “Baked Alaska” Gionet and Jennifer Harrison of the anti-immigrant hate group the Patriot Movement AZ. As previously reported by LCRW, founders Rick Thomas and Kevin Decuyper were also exposed by their own members for being involved in neo-Nazi chat rooms, praising eugenics, mocking the tragedy in Charlottesville, and sharing neo-nazi slogans. Recently, the student group (who self-describes as groypers) have been raising funds for Kyle Rittenhouse, holding pro-Rittenhouse protests at ASU, and hosting campaign events with Arizona senate candidate Blake Masters and Rep. Mark Finchem. Despite graduating, Thomas has remained involved with College Republicans United and could be seen seated with the college groups at the far-right Christmas reception. Other college groups with students in attendance were Stanford College Republicans, San Jose College Republicans, Fresno State College Republicans (who also has a history of hosting Canadian white nationalists), and the California College Republicans who Rep. Paul Gosar has also courted in the past.
A list of fringe GOP candidates and politicians from several states joined the room as well. Georgia congressional candidate Mike Collins, New York state senate candidate Stefano Forte, Nevada congressional candidate Noah Margeri, North Carolina congressional candidate Adina Safta, Oklahoma senate candidate Jackson Lahmeyer, Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, and Arizona senate candidate (and NFT bro) Blake Masters were all honored guests and earned the official endorsement of Republicans for National Renewal. Florida representative Matt Gaetz had spoken earlier on stage at TPUSA’s AmericaFest before joining the (even more) far-right event across the street. That afternoon, Gaetz double downed on his recent comments made on Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast where they called for “an army of patriots” and “shock troops” to overtake the federal government.
Controversial Texas representative Louie Gohmert was also a featured guest at It’s a Wonderful Nation. Earlier this year, Gohmert appeared at the Dallas QAnon conference where Gen. Michael Flynn said a Myanmar-style coup “should” happen in the United States. A major promoter of election disinformation, Gohmert was joined by other election truthers, Stop the Steal plotters, and Capitol rioting officials from Arizona. AZ GOP chairwoman Kelli Ward, secretary of state candidate Rep. Mark Finchem, Rep. Paul Gosar, Sen. Wendy Rogers, and former representative and candidate for state senate Anthony Kern were all key figures in Arizona and D.C. Stop the Steal rallies. Rep. Finchem and Kern were pictured amongst the chaos on January 6th while Rep. Gosar has been repeatedly named as being intricately involved with the plot to overturn the 2020 election. Both members of the Oath Keeper militia, Sen. Rogers and Rep. Finchem have continued to be the loudest voices to have the Arizona election “decertified” (a process with no legal basis whatsoever). This particular group of Arizona republicans are no strangers to associating with right-wing extremist groups, repeatedly linking themselves with the QAnon cult, Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, groypers, and explicit white supremacists. At the end of the night, Republicans for National Renewal presented Gosar with an “America First” award.
Christian supremacist CEO of Give Send Go, Jacob Wells, provided his official sponsorship for this de-facto white nationalist meetup. Wells already has a habit of platforming and financially backing extremist groups like the Proud Boys to fundraise on his website after they’re shunned from mainstream platforms for their acts of hate and violence. Give Send Go also had a booth and offered their sponsorship at Turning Point’s AmericaFest.
Tho Bishop, representing the Ludwig von Mises Institute for Austrian Economics was in attendance and the libertarian think tank was a sponsor. That institution offered books by the great libertarian thinkers like Murray Rothbard, who argued in favor of treating children as commodities and trading them in the free market.