Last year, Paul Nehlen mounted a primary challenge against House Speaker Paul Ryan. Positioning himself further to the right on issues like immigration and national security, while at the same time supporting some forms of economic protectionism, Nehlen’s message to voters was simple: Paul Ryan is an establishment shill, a puppet of multinational corporations who’s selling out his constituents to overseas interests.
The stunt was a spectacular failure, with nearly 85% of District 1 voters choosing Ryan over the motorcycle-riding nobody who challenged him to an arm wrestling match. But while Ryan is serving his 9th term in office, Nehlen is preparing for a rematch in 2018. Bearing this in mind, it’s important to ask a question that seems to have slipped everyone else’s minds: Is this Wisconsin also-ran a white nationalist?
Although Nehlen has not, to my knowledge, publicly declared himself a supporter of white nationalists or the alt-right, his actions paint a portrait of a man who shares their values.
For example, late last year Nehlen made a guest appearance on the white power podcast Fash The Nation, where he championed the repeal of birthright citizenship, denounced the Muslim faith, and spread a bizarre rumor that Chinese women are travelling to the U.S. en masse to give birth. Hosted by the pseudonymous Jazzhands McFeels and Marcus Halberstram, FTN is a font of racism, anti-Semitism, and deranged conspiracy theories.
McFeels has appeared on David Duke’s personal radio show where he explained how the alt-right uses the triple parentheses, or “echoes,” to target Jews online. He’s claimed that white people are necessary for an orderly society, and that the ultimate goal of the alt-right is a “white ethnostate.” And he speculated that the shooting in Las Vegas which left 58 dead might have been carried out by an anti-white “Leftoid.”
In February of this year, Nehlen contributed $50 to Holocaust denier Chuck Johnson’s fundraising site WeSearchr. The money was offered for the purpose of funding an interview of George Zimmerman — the one-time neighborhood watch volunteer who, in 2013, was acquitted in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
On Twitter, Nehlen has made several racially charged statements and retweeted prominent white nationalist activists and organizations. On December 1, 2017, Richard Lawler, the senior news editor of Engadget, replied to one of Nehlen’s tweets. Nehlen chose to fire back with “Run along Tyrone”:
There are two ways to interpret that comment, both of which suggest Nehlen was making a racist remark. On the one hand, Nehlen used a stereotypically black name to refer to an African-American man whose name he clearly knew. On the other, “Tyrone” is a reference to a racist joke popular on the alt-right:
And he promoted a permanent ban on Muslims from entering the U.S.:
And then there’s his retweets. Here’s one from Mike Tokes which supports the racist “Birther” conspiracy:
On another occasion he retweeted the official account of Identity Evropa, a white nationalist organization listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. IE was founded by Nathan Damigo in March 2016, and made headlines for its flyering campaigns on college campuses:
And he retweeted a xenophobic meme from Mark Collett, the former chairman of the British National Party’s youth division. Collett is not only a white supremacist, but also a virulent homophobe who once disparaged gay men as “AIDS monkeys,” “bum bandits,” and “faggots”:
Taking this evidence into consideration, it’s clear that Nehlen is sympathetic to the alt-right’s pet causes, and seems willing to amplify their message on social media. And if he wants a second chance at beating Paul Ryan in 2018, it’s something he’ll eventually have to answer for.