HuffPost asked Paul Nehlen three times by email this week if he considers himself a white nationalist. Twice Nehlen dodged the question. The third time he didn’t respond.
The Wisconsin Republican is running to replace House Speaker Paul Ryan, who might not be seeking re-election. Nehlen campaigned in Alabama recently for Roy Moore, the Senate nominee accused of sexual misconduct, who suffered a historic defeat Tuesday. Nehlen claims to have raised “six figures” for the Moore campaign.
Nehlen was a speaker Monday at Moore’s campaign rally in Midland City, Alabama. He took the stage wearing the red “Make America great again” cap and warned the crowd that “we’re engaged in a spiritual battle.” Moore was the only one, he said, who could “drain that swamp” up in D.C.
Only two days earlier, on Dec. 9, Nehlen was a guest on an anti-Semitic white power podcast called “Fash the Nation,” talking to hosts “Jazzhands McFeels” and “Marcus Halberstram” for about an hour. (“Fash” is shorthand among the so-called alt-right, a loose association of white nationalists, for “fascist.”)
It was Nehlen’s second appearance on the show, and his fluency with white nationalist jargon was evident as he made thinly veiled anti-Semitic remarks and proudly recounted having told a Jewish magazine editor to “eat a bullet.”
On Dec. 8, Nehlen used Gab, a micro-blogging platform used primarily by white nationalists, to repost a drawing another user had made for him. The drawing showed a puny Ryan, seen as the anti-Trump, next to a buff “Chad” Nehlen. (Chad is an alt-right term for a fit alpha-male womanizer.) In the accompanying text, Nehlen is described as having “redpilled on globalism, RR and JQ.”
“Redpilled,” a reference to the Matrix movie trilogy, is used to describe an awakening to white supremacist teachings. “RR” stands for “race realism,” and “JQ” stands for the “Jewish question,” the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that Jews have undue influence over the media, banking and politics that must somehow be addressed.
Earlier this month, Nehlen tweeted “It’s okay to be white,” a meme that originated on the message board 4chan, a haven for neo-Nazi trolls, and was spread enthusiastically by white nationalists. “In fact it’s pretty awesome,” he added in a follow-up tweet.
On at least two occasions this month, Nehlen has retweeted racist memes shared by Mark Collett, a British Nazi sympathizer.
On the night of Aug. 11, when neo-Nazis and other assorted racists marched with tiki torches through Charlottesville, Virginia, Nehlen retweeted an image of the march posted by white nationalist Jason Kessler: “Incredible moment for white people who’ve had it up to here & aren’t going to take it anymore. Tomorrow we #UnitetheRight #Charlottesville.”
After Moore’s defeat in Alabama, Nehlen shared another piece of fan art Wednesday that was created for him on Gab. It showed Roman centurions with “Pepe the Frog” heads. (Pepe the Frog is the mascot of the white nationalists.)
HuffPost emailed Nehlen on Wednesday detailing some of these — and other — flirtations he’s made with being an avowed white nationalist. Asked if he considers himself either a white nationalist or a member of the alt-right, Nehlen largely dodged the question, sending the following statement:
I’m a successful businessman and have had something like 20,000 employees around the globe of every color, race, and creed; not to mention patented inventions so attempts to paint me as anything but a successful businessman reflect on the media’s identity politics not my Christian faith. Besides ― it’s true that it’s okay to be white ― it’s pretty awesome in fact.
Asked in a follow-up email to clarify whether or not he’s a white nationalist with a simple yes or no, Nehlen responded:
Given that the media is still determined to libel all conservatives as bigots, it seems some clarity on the definition of American Nationalism ― the idea that the United States should put the economic and security interests of American citizens ahead of the economic and security interests of illegal aliens and non-citizens ― is in order.
In a third email Thursday, HuffPost noted that this was a definition of nationalism, but that it didn’t answer the question as to whether Nehlen considers himself a white nationalist or a member of the alt-right.
He didn’t respond.
Nehlen’s association with the Moore campaign, which received funding from the Republican National Committee and was endorsed by President Donald Trump, shows that a faction of the GOP appears to be at ease with white nationalists in its ranks.
At the Moore campaign rally Monday he attended, Moore’s wife defended her husband from accusations of anti-Semitism by saying that one of his attorneys is a Jew. (An investigation by The Forward failed to find this Jewish lawyer.)
It also shows that Steve Bannon’s effort to publicly distance himself from the alt-right is a ruse. Bannon, the Breitbart News executive chairman and a former White House chief strategist, had championed Moore and is backing Nehlen.
Nehlen told HuffPost that Bannon is a “friend.” On the “Fash the Nation” podcast, Nehlen said Bannon considers him a “kamikaze” against the GOP establishment.
Bannon did not respond to a request for comment on Nehlen’s white nationalist sentiments. Neither did the Moore campaign. Nor did the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Nehlen has been comfortable expressing bigoted comments in public for a while now, as documented by the Angry White Men blog run by Twitter user @EyesOnTheRight.
Earlier this month, during a Twitter spat with Richard Lawler, an editor at tech news site Engadget who is black, Nehlen tweeted, “Run along Tyrone.”
As @EyesOnTheRight wrote, “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.”
That “joke” features a deeply racist cartoon rendering of a black man, which we won’t republish here.
On the “Fash the Nation” podcast last weekend, Nehlen recounted another Twitter spat he’d had, this one with John Podhoretz, the conservative editor of Commentary magazine.
After an argument over gun control, Nehlen had tweeted to Podhoretz, who is Jewish, that he should “self-deport” and “eat a bullet.”
“So Bannon’s catamite @pnehlen has, in the past 12 hours, suggested I commit suicide and called on me, born and raised in the U.S. but Jewish, to ‘self-deport,’” Podhoretz tweeted.
“Catamite” is an obscure word referring to a young boy kept by a pederast. “What race even has that word?” Nehlen asked on “Fash the Nation.” “Well, there’s one.”
The hosts laughed. McFeels called it a “very biblical term,” emphasizing again Podheretz’s religious heritage.
“If people watch you stand in the face of the people like [the] John Podhoretzes of the world, the people who want to throw their parentheses at you — I have no time for that,” Nehlen said. “I’m not afraid of those guys.”
“Parentheses” is a reference to the anti-Semitic “echo” gimmick, in which the names of Jews or Jewish institutions are placed in triple parentheses.
Nehlen was suspended from Twitter for 12 hours for telling Podhoretz to “eat a bullet.” He told the “Fash the Nation” hosts that he “got shoah’d for 12 hours.”
“Shoah” is a Hebrew word for “calamity,” used most commonly to refer to the Holocaust. For white nationalists, though, it’s used as a slur, reserved for small inconveniences — like getting suspended by Twitter — as a way of diminishing the horror of the Holocaust.
Nehlen also bragged that his fans had listened to his first appearance on “Fash the Nation” and that the “the redpills are being shot at people like with bump fire stocks.” (Translation: He’s converting a lot of his supporters into white nationalists.)
At another point, Nehlen and the hosts talked gushingly about a recent stunt by the white nationalist group Identity Evropa, whose members joined the violent “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville this summer.
In March, Identity Evropa hung a giant banner from a highway overpass in Georgia that read “America first. End immigration now.” The group tweeted out a photo, which Nehlen retweeted.
The “Fash the Nation” hosts were deeply flattered that Nehlen was a guest on their show. McFeels — who, it should be noted, has appeared on the radio show of David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, and has called for the creation of a “white ethno-state” — lashed out at Paul Ryan for taking money from Jewish “paymasters” and promised to “make sure” Nehlen wins his congressional race in Wisconsin. Nehlen replied that he was “honored” to be on the show.
“You guys do great, great work,” he said.