The GOP-controlled Texas legislature has voted down a resolution that would ban members from meeting with known neo-Nazi extremists, Holocaust deniers, and antisemitic groups.
Associating with Nick Fuentes is emerging as a branding issue for the Republican Party. Fuentes is known for antisemitic, homophobic, racist, and misogynistic commentary —and for showing up at meetings with prominent Republicans, up to and including Donald Trump.
Of course, Fuentes is far from the only concerning influencer on the right, but it was after he was connected to Jonathan Stickland, a prominent Republican strategist, leader (at the time) of the Defend Texas Liberty PAC, and a former legislator, that Texas Republicans began to worry about reputational damage.
In fact, the state’s GOP executive committee began to discuss cutting ties with Stickland and the PAC.
What they couldn’t agree on, however, was a resolution banning legislators from association with known extremists, Holocaust deniers, and antisemitic groups.
Republicans employed “slippery slope” arguments and suggested it would be too hard to determine what antisemitism meant. The San Antonio Express-News reported:
“Jim Pikl, an executive committee member who represents the McKinney area, said that language takes the resolution a step too far ‘because now we’re resolving to disassociate ourselves from people who — somebody, somewhere, somehow decides, based on non-known metrics — are espousing antisemitism.’”
Defend Texas Liberty PAC, by contrast, made a quicker move. They removed references to Stickland from their website, and named a new president, Luke Macias, who was previously listed as director, the Texas Tribune reports.
The PAC is a major donor in Texas politics and is tied to Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton among other prominent Republicans.
Despite apparent concerns from some Republicans that it could be hard to determine just who is a neonazi or nazi sympathizer, Fuentes appears in numerous clips from his podcast praising Hitler and attacking Jewish people (among other groups).
You’ll see a clip below in which he explains that his movement “loves Hitler” and compares that love to their adoration of Donald Trump.
In fact, after Trump met with Fuentes at a dinner alongside Kanye West, not only did the former president try to distance himself from the right-wing influencer — saying he didn’t know who Fuentes was and didn’t know he was coming to dinner — even Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said sitting to eat with this particular influencer would be inappropriate.
The Texas legislature, though, isn’t quite there.
Fuentes on Hitler. Warning: this clip is NSFW both for the blatant antisemitism and for profanity.
Nick Fuentes would like to clarify something: "We love Hitler in a Christian way, you freak. Not in a gay way. In like an awesome way, OK? In like a we love Trump way, you fucking liberal." pic.twitter.com/qtxVTBDSRl
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) January 27, 2023
DeSantis says he would not dine with Fuentes.
Gov. DeSantis (R-FL) rejects conspiracy theories about Israel spread by white supremacist Nick Fuentes and declines to say whether GOP should associate with him.@johnberman: “I just wanna know if Republicans should be eating with Nick Fuentes.”
DeSantis: “I would not do that.” pic.twitter.com/usxxLOh0G0
— The Recount (@therecount) October 11, 2023
Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.