Amid the fallout from the revelation that Wisconsin congressional candidate Paul Nehlen harbors white nationalist sympathies, right-wing radio host Curt Schilling offered Nehlen a chance to clear the air in an interview.
To summarize, Nehlen has appeared twice on a white supremacist podcast where he recommended repealing birthright citizenship and made anti-Semitic remarks. On Twitter tweeted white supremacist propaganda and announced he was reading The Culture of Critique by white nationalist Kevin MacDonald.
On Friday, Curt Schilling asked Nehlen over Twitter if he’d be willing to appear on his Breitbart-hosted radio show Whatever it Takes because of “some questions I think you need to answer.”
This was unusual because the higher-ups at Breitbart News, including senior editor-at-large Joel Pollak, have been furiously denying any connection to Nehlen, a candidate who was, until recently, backed by Steve Bannon. A previous interview with Nehlen was also quietly scrubbed from the website.
But Nehlen happily accepted the offer, and was scheduled to appear on Schilling’s show next Wednesday at 9 a.m.
Meanwhile, Twitter user @cholent_lover chastised Schilling for inviting Nehlen on his show:
Days after Breitbart folks condemn him and says he’s “dead to us” , said you invite him on your show? What’s to be made clear? His association w Nazis and vocal white nationalist anti-jewish conspiracy theories are plainly available on his Twitter.
Schilling responded by calling him an “idiot” and vowing to ask Nehlen “directly, every single question I can” so that listeners can “determine what is true/bullshit.”
“No one told me anything…It’s literally just all on his twitter timeline,” @cholent_lover replied. Schilling then accused him of “reading people to be exactly the thing you are,” which is “Intolerant, hateful, violent and angry.”
When confronted with a screenshot showing that Nehlen retweeted the white nationalist group Identity Evropa (“IE”), Schilling was similarly unimpressed. The tweet in question boasted that IE members had been doing charity work, no doubt as a post-Charlottesville PR stunt.
“How dare those racists [sic] bastards hand out food and money to help the homeless!!!!” the right-wing pundit shot back. “And how dare anyone publicly recognize that bastardly deed!” When reminded that IE is a racist hate group, Schilling accused @cholent_lover of being a closet racist himself.
Yesterday morning Nehlen did a Periscope video where he attempted to preemptively defend himself against charges of anti-Semitism and white supremacy. He dismissed his enthusiasm for reading Culture of Critique by saying he reads “lots of books”:
There’s piles of books here. There’s piles of books. There’s books on bookshelves downstairs. There’s books on my desk. There’s books everywhere in this house because I read a lot. And I lend my books out too.
That’s an ironclad defense right there, Paulie. And what about his two appearances on Fash the Nation where he spent time yukking it up with a couple of white supremacists? Well he just happens to go on all sorts of radio shows:
I’ll tell ya, I ran for office because Trans-Pacific Partnership was terrible. And what happened when I was running for office is I went everywhere and got interviewed by anybody. Anybody who would interview me, I went on their show. I went on liberal stations here in the district. And the payroll pundits — I call ’em payroll pundits because that’s really what they are — they castigated me for going on liberal stations. They said, “Look at this Nehlen guy, he’s a liberal. He’s a liberal. He goes on liberal radio stations. He went on a station that the guy who interviewed him said terrible things about [Lt. Gov.] Becky Kleefisch.”
So, fast forward to several weeks ago. People got upset because I went on a podcast. And what’d I do? I talked about the same thing. I talked about a border wall. I talked about building a border wall to stop the flow of heroin and narcotics and narco-terrorists across our border.
In other words, Nehlen downplayed his connection to white nationalists by claiming he went on liberal shows and only talked about run-of-the-mill policy stuff. He wouldn’t even say the name of the podcast he appeared on, and instead danced around the subject like a coward.
And unfortunately for Nehlen, his appearance on liberal radio shows to discuss the TPP doesn’t explain why he appeared on Fash the Nation in December 2016 after he lost to Paul Ryan and after Donald Trump was elected.
Nor does it explain his subsequent appearance this year, or the statements he made on the program about Jews who “throw their parentheses at you” and his refusal to “back down” to Judaism. By saying he only discussed building a wall to stop drug trafficking, Nehlen is guilty of lying by omission.
Then, hours after this video aired, Curt Schilling made another unusual announcement: he was rescinding his invitation for Nehlen to appear on his program next Wednesday. In a tweet directed at Nehlen, Schilling wrote:
Spent better part of last night/today catching up on your post-interview antics. Can’t give a platform to a man that is A) So ignorant as to be in need of help and/or B) A fascist making no attempt to cover up his beliefs. No positive benefit to giving you air time
It’s unclear what caused this sudden change of heart, especially given how combative Schilling was with anyone who criticized his decision to interview Nehlen. Did the criticism on Twitter simply become too much? Or did Joel Pollak step in and urge Schilling to reverse his decision?
Either way, Nehlen’s white nationalist fans swooped in almost immediately to accuse Schilling of “cucking” for the Jewish establishment. Eli Mosley, formerly the head of IE, tweeted, “[W]hat is wrong with you? Stand up for yourself,” and reminded Schilling that he himself was attacked in the past for incendiary remarks.
Mike “Enoch” Peinovich of The Right Stuff chimed in, calling Schilling a “coward” and adding, “After you get shutdown, you’re now shutting down others. The people that attacked you are no different than the people that attacked Nehlen. You think you’ll win anyone’s favor this way? Weak.”
Jazzhands McFeels, whose Fash the Nation podcast landed Nehlen in such hot water in the first place, wrote, “You spent the better part of last night on the phone being told what to do and today figuring out how to wriggle out of it. What a pussy.”
Other trolls likewise showered Schilling with racist abuse:
It should be abundantly clear by now that the “American nationalist” Breitbart set has no more use for Nehlen, mainly because he hasn’t a snowball’s chance in Hell of dethroning Paul Ryan. But it should be equally clear that the alt-right still needs Nehlen.
He might not be a viable candidate, but that’s not the point. It’s always been about, as Nehlen himself said, “moving that Overton Window to the right.” At that point, the politics of white racial resentment will have become mainstream once again.