On June 10, 2020, far-right commentator Michelle Malkin interviewed a handful of students associated with the “groypers” — a political movement founded by white nationalists that seeks to move its openly racist and antisemitic ideas into the mainstream by repackaging them as “America First.”
The “America First” phrase has long been associated with white supremacists and antisemites.
Malkin was an early backer of the movement’s key figures, including white nationalists Vincent James Foxx and Nick Fuentes. In February, Malkin spoke at the inaugural America First Political Action Conference alongside white nationalists Patrick Casey, the leader of American Identity Movement, and Scott Greer.
During her live-stream, Malkin interviewed a group of so-called “America First” students — Jaden McNeil, Nick Reidy, Rick Thomas, Julie Houtman, Marshall Whinney, and “Chief Trumpster” — who are seeking to push the Republican Party in a more extreme direction.
Jaden McNeil founded America First Students after becoming disillusioned with Kansas State University’s Turning Point USA chapter. In his resignation letter McNeil cited TPUSA’s acceptance of LGBT people and legal immigration, as well as the group’s decision to distance itself from white nationalist figures like Nick Fuentes.
McNeil has displayed a history of open bigotry against LGBT people, immigrants, and non-whites. In a December 2019 appearance on #Killstream, an online show hosted by far-right harasser Ethan Ralph, McNeil said “most kids wanna be able to say ‘faggot’ without Turning Point – without ruining your whole career.”
His Twitter account follows and retweets content from white nationalists. In a November 11, 2019 tweet, McNeil warned that “We’re going to lose this country forever if nothing is done soon to end mass legal immigration and rapid demographic change transforming states and giving Democrats permanent political power.”
On Telegram he shared an image of a tweet warning of “civilizational enemies” who seek to “replace you with mexicans [sic].” He also re-posted an image from a white supremacist account that contrasted two images: one of white people riding a train and one of non-white people.
“Press F for Western Civilization,” it said — a nod to a funeral cut scene from the game Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
Nick Reidy was introduced as the “America First Youth Ambassador” for the Lauren Witzke campaign. Witzke is running against Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) on an anti-immigrant platform. She has tweeted her support for the deranged QAnon conspiracy, and her campaign manager is a virulent antisemite.
Rick Thomas is the founder of the Arizona State University student group College Republicans United (CRU) — an offshoot of the ASU College Republicans that formed in 2018. In 2019 the University announced an investigation of the group over racist remarks made by current and former members, including Thomas.
According to a dossier compiled by former CRU members, Rick Thomas engaged in hate speech against Jews and Black people.
In the private CRU chat, Thomas claimed that “((Rosenbergs)) stole our nuclear secrets and gave them to the Soviet Union” — using the antisemitic “echo” symbol to refer to Jews — and called African-American rapper Childish Gambino’s music “degenerate monkey filth.”
He asked why the U.S. had no “eugenics policy,” promoted Murdoch Murdoch — a Neo-Nazi Internet comedy show — and wrote “We must secure the existence of our soil and a future for American blood,” a mash-up of the Neo-Nazi 14 Words slogan and the phrase “Blood and soil.”
And leaked photos from the dossier also showed Thomas posing in front of a Dodge Challenger in a CRU shirt while holding a gallon of milk and a tiki torch.
The photos were a reference to the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally a year prior, where participants carried tiki torches and a Neo-Nazi murdered 32-year-old activist Heather Heyer after he drove his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of anti-racist demonstrators.
CRU’s current president Julie Houtman penned an article attacking fellow students for alleged bigotry while, at the same time, inviting bigots to speak at ASU. In September 2019, CRU extended an invitation to Carl Goldberg, an anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist who claimed that Muslims “want to overtake our country and make this an Islamic country.”
Marshall Whinney is the current president of the Penn State Bull Moose Party (BMP), a pro-Trump student group founded in 2016. One of the BMP’s earliest stunts was erecting a makeshift border wall around Old Main days before the 2016 election. In October 2019, then-BMP president Kris Malysz criticized President Trump for failing to sufficiently restrict immigration.
The Twitter account for BMP routinely retweets content from white nationalists, including 14 Words-spouting white nationalist Faith Goldy, who wrote, “The media hates whites. Simple as that.” BMP added, “Politics is increasingly becoming a conflict between people who hate Europeans and those who don’t.”
BMP has also accused the U.S. military of “carrying out Zionist foreign policy goals,” condemned the “lynching” of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers, said “American citizenship does not make you an American,” falsely claimed the “demonstrators in Charlottesville didn’t kill anyone,” and called white privilege “blood libel against white people.”
Chief Groyper is a pseudonymous Twitter personality who traffics in racist rhetoric. In a recent series of tweets he has referred to Black people as joggers — white supremacists have adopted “jogger” as a racial slur in reference to the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.
“All I see is jogging” he wrote in a May 27 tweet about a video depicting what appeared to be Black looters. In a subsequent tweet he wrote “Some joggers found some electronics on discount!” And in one from May 31 he wrote “Gucci overrun. Spot The White Person?” On June 4 he tweeted “I am proud to be White.”
During the live-stream Malkin complained that President Trump has “embraced some of the adult versions of Charlie Kirk” — the founder and president of TPUSA — who “have hijacked the nationalism agenda.” She added that they needed to hope Trump is watching Tucker Carlson instead of listening to Jared Kushner.
“I wish Tucker were president,” Rick Thomas replied. (Tucker Carlson has used his Fox News show to push white supremacist talking points.)
“Honestly the mood in our organization at this point is, quite frankly, the GOP needs to be abandoned,” said Marshall Whinney. “We have no faith that they’ll ever stand with us regardless of what candidates they run. Quite frankly our opinion is that all the efforts should basically be put into organizing other institutions — maybe a national party or something like that.”
Malkin held up Pat Buchanan and Tom Tancredo as examples of far-right politicians doing just that, which she said only “divided everybody up” and “didn’t work.” “Can there be an ‘America First’ party that Tucker Carlson can be a candidate for?” she asked.
Nick Reidy said that they should “infiltrate the GOP” rather than destroy it.
He also criticized the so-called “Never Trump” Republicans — a group he says includes senators Mitch McConnell and Lisa Murkowski of Kentucky and Alaska respectively. Reidy suggested they “politically isolate and pressure these people to be more ‘America First’ or get out of the GOP.”
Jaden McNeil remarked that the GOP is “already changing” and that it will “continue to change and shift, especially when we see demographics shifting with the country, and the electability of Republicans continue to decrease, looking at voting trends.”
Later the students complained about being labeled “racist” and “white nationalist” and having their lives “ruin[ed].” Malkin, as she has done in the past, called on “nationalist-friendly lawyers” to sue people who accurately report on the “America First” crowd’s racist rhetoric.
“And I really do think that we need to have some sort of legal defense fund of our own so that these people can be sued into oblivion for continuing to libel and defame us and slander us,” she said.
When asked how their parents have reacted to the controversy, McNeil said his mother “supports” him but doesn’t like the controversy that he’s attracted and which has resulted in threats against him. He also lamented that a number of “groypers” had been exposed on Twitter.
“I will say that we’ve seen over the last weeks some groypers have been doxed, and especially with this Black Lives Matters — like, these, targeting, like, this dox campaign that they’re really pushing hard on Twitter,” he said. “I do wanna stress that this is not sunshine and rainbows like a lot of people think it is.”
[The following clips are from a 58 minute live-stream.]