Why it’s important to know more about Nick Fuentes.
Donald Trump claimed he did not know who Nick Fuentes was before sitting down to dinner with him and other guests at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate last week. But Fuentes is certainly well known to the groups that track racist and antisemitic trends in American society.
While the Justice Department has described Fuentes in court papers as a white supremacist, that barely begins to fully capture the range of inflammatory views he has expressed denigrating Black people, Jews, women, L.G.B.T.Q. Americans, Muslims and immigrants.
At age 24, Fuentes has become a star on the far right for a font of extremist statements that would have disqualified him from meeting with any other modern president. He has used a racist slur for Black people; called homosexuality “disgusting”; asserted that the Republican Party was “run by Jews, atheists and homosexuals”; said it would be better if women could not vote; compared himself to Hitler and hoped for “a total Aryan victory”; declared that “the First Amendment was not written for Muslims”; and maintained that Jim Crow segregation “was better for them, it’s better for us, it’s better in general.”
Fuentes first came to prominence in 2017 when he attended the ultraright rally in Charlottesville, Va., after which Trump asserted that there were “very fine people on both sides” even as he denounced neo-Nazis. Fuentes dropped out of Boston University after saying he had received threats stemming from his attendance at the rally and began hosting a livestream show, “America First,” that same year, generating an audience of followers called Groypers, named for a cartoon frog.
He founded the America First Political Action Conference in 2020 and hosted far-right Republicans in the House including Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona. Fuentes rejects the term white supremacist because it is an “anti-white slur,” but embraces the language of white racism and antisemitism and calls himself a “reactionary” and a “misogynist.”
Trump often claims not to know much about extremists whose support he accepts, as he did with the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, the Proud Boys and followers of QAnon. But even if it were true in this case, Fuentes was brought to the dinner by Kanye West, the rapper now known as Ye, who was invited by Trump at the very moment West was under fire for antisemitic comments of his own. And even afterward, Trump did not condemn Fuentes, leaving white nationalists to view the dinner as validation.
While news organizations are naturally reluctant to amplify hateful statements, it is important to understand just what we’re talking about when we discuss someone welcomed to the table of a former president seeking to return to the White House. So here is a summary compiled with the help of my colleague Ian Prasad Philbrick from research by the Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Law Center and other organizations and news outlets. Fuentes did not respond to requests for an interview passed along through a lawyer.
Antisemitism and racism
Fuentes regularly invokes fears of a “white genocide” and echoes replacement theory, which holds that elites seek to “replace” white Americans with immigrants and other people of color. The theory has inspired a number of mass shootings in recent years, including at a Pittsburgh synagogue, a Walmart in El Paso and a Buffalo supermarket.
“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,” Fuentes once tweeted. He has also said, “The Founders never intended for America to be a refugee camp for nonwhite people.” And on Alex Jones’s Infowars last year, he said, “I don’t see Jews as Europeans and I don’t see them as part of Western civilization, particularly because they are not Christians.”
Fuentes has advanced Holocaust denial, or what he calls Holocaust “revision,” most memorably in a video riff in which he compared Nazi death camps to Cookie Monster baking cookies, suggesting it was not possible to have killed six million Jews during World War II. He later said the video was only a “lampoon,” while saying he does acknowledge the Holocaust, and he has said he uses “irony” to discuss taboo subjects.
Violence and politics
While again saying he was only kidding, Fuentes appeared to endorse violence against women, telling one listener on his livestream who asked how to punish a wife “for getting out of line” that he should hit her.
“Why don’t you take your hand and give her a vicious slap right across her face, right across her ignorant face?” he said. “Why don’t you give her a vicious and forceful backhanded slap with your knuckles right across her face, disrespectfully, and make it hurt?” He then disavowed violence and claimed he was joking, saying he would never strike a woman “unless she deserved it.”
Fuentes has praised the fall of the American-backed government in Afghanistan because the Taliban “is a conservative, religious force” while “the U.S. is godless and liberal,” and cheered on President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, saying, “Can we give a round of applause for Russia?” He has said that the crusades and the inquisitions were “pretty good stuff” and that he wanted the “people that run CNN to be arrested and deported or hanged.”
As for the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, when he and other Trump supporters rallied outside the building, Fuentes has called it “awesome” and “lighthearted mischief.” On the anniversary of the riot, he revered it as “part of our new heritage,” adding that it should be a holiday. “This is a historic moment for us,” he said. “We should celebrate that it happened, absolutely.”
Related: Some Jewish Republicans who were among Trump’s staunchest supporters are backing away over concerns he is legitimizing antisemitism. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/29/briefing/nick-fuentes-trump.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage§ion=US%20News