They’re being called the Groypers — named after Pepe the Frog’s more sinister, overweight toad cousin — and they’re making life hell for Charlie Kirk and his campus conservative organization Turning Point USA.
Following eyebrow-raising comments from Kirk recently that have been interpreted as elevating Israel above the United States, advocating automatic green cards for foreign exchange students, and one incident where a TPUSA leader was terminated after she posed in a group photograph with ‘fringe’ figures, the Groypers, led by 22-year-old shitlord Nick Fuentes, have been infiltrating TPUSA events to launch a barrage of uncomfortable questions at Kirk. In some instances, they’ve managed to dominate the entire Q and A portion of events, as Kirk squirms on stage.
This campaign of terror peaked Tuesday night at Ohio State, where Kirk was joined on stage by TPUSA ambassador Rob Smith, a gay, black, Iraq war veteran who, since leaving the Democrat party just last year has been a fixture on Fox News and the campus speaking circuit. Smith, or rather TPUSA’s open embrace of homosexuality, got the brunt of the attack at Ohio.
‘You’ve advocated on behalf of accepting homosexuality, accepting homosexual acts as normative in the conservative movement, how does anal sex help us win the culture war?’ one rosary-clutching, Fuentes plant asked.
It was a stunning moment and something I, as a gay man with right-wing views, have been desperate for someone to ask. Many lifelong conservatives have watched politely as a new class of people have been anointed their national spokespersons simply because they were ex-Democrats who ticked a certain identity box. I hope I do not fall into this category somewhere. Yet often these people, and I’m not talking about Rob, propped up as the second coming of William F. Buckley, turn out to be incurious morons who couldn’t tell Burke from Beyonce. They don’t truly understand conservatism. All they know is the left is bad and lies a lot, and they’ve built careers on this not exactly groundbreaking concept. The whole thing comes off as defensive posturing: if the left says we are racists and homophobes we must hand the spotlight over to our blacks and gays.
Smith took the mic, rattling and unprepared. He lauded America’s exceptionalism and the contributions gay men and lesbians make to society. But for an event titled ‘Culture War,’ his response seemed to only validate the perception that TPUSA is out-of-touch and not, in fact, comprised of cultural warriors. The correct response to that question, from a homosexual, should have been something like, ‘But, honey, without us your women would have awful hair.’
Fuentes and some of his followers, though certainly not all, could be said to legitimately hold far-right views on ‘white identity’, ethno-nationalism, and Christian morality. While many of the questions asked were tough, challenging, and highly engaging, there was an undeniable strain of authoritarianism weaved underneath. It was enthralling and slightly chilling. But by no means were all of their questions about race. Some were legitimate policy inquiries. Kirk dodged those, too.
This is happening for two reasons. First, the left is no longer an interesting or formidable foe. The culture war issues that sent Trump to the White House in 2016 are old hat to dissident right-wingers who live on the internet. That was a millennial war and now the zoomers are ascending. Those with a knack for sensing the mood of the nation and predicting the direction culture will go — a club, by the way, devoid of anyone on the left or in media — watch the left’s continued narrow-sighted, cannibalistic spiral of madness with increasing boredom, whether it’s Russiagate, impeachment, or boycotting a Chick-fil-A.
Once you’ve figured out the left, and have successfully stood up to them and survived, they become less worthy of your mental energy.
Conservatism, Inc does not understand this. They deliver talking points very well, but that’s about it. Still, they were aloof, or cocky, enough to title their campus tour ‘culture war,’ and didn’t think some people might cringe whenever they took stage firing t-shirts from a cannon while dressed in a J.Crew blazer, loafers, and Ray-Bans. Because, when all’s said and done, they’re corny and unconvincing. Even Turning Point’s own members are abandoning it: Twitter was awash yesterday with resignations, including two chapter presidents, one from Drexel University and the other from Kansas. And even Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin retweeted the resignation statements. So it’s not just the dark underbelly of the internet waiting to see Kirk stumble.
Let’s face it, they’re as dorky as the Never-Trumpers, only younger. And yet, many see them as snatching the baton and appointing themselves the guardians of 2016’s spoils. I sincerely have no beef with Turning Point USA, Charlie Kirk, or anyone affiliated with that organization. They do decent work and all seem like nice, hard-working people. But as far as in-fighting goes, where liberals stifle and suffocate, conservatives brawl. And the celebratory reaction to Tuesday night’s spectacle from mainline Trump supporters who have zero tendencies toward ethno-nationalism proves what I’ve suspected for a while: there’s a feeling among anti-establishment conservatives that their self-appointed leaders have grown lazy and take their support for granted, if not downright insult their intelligence by robo-tweeting the same blanket statements about liberal corruption or America First, day in and day out, for three years. It never occurred to these cultural war generals to evolve, that people may be thirsty for depth, more philosophy, Christianity, or just quality entertainment.
Following Tuesday night’s melee, Rob Smith (whom I know personally, and like) stirred even more ire when he took to Twitter to claim the event had been infiltrated by neo-Nazis and white nationalists. Other conservatives with blue check marks but not affiliated with TPUSA echoed this. While I don’t understand the obsession some on the right have with Israel — pro or con, despite personally falling in the pro-camp — and I glaze over at any mention of ‘white identity,’ if the embarrassment on stage didn’t do it, those tweets may have been the death of Turning Point. The media’s treatment of Covington Catholic student Nicholas Sandmann is still fresh for Trumpers. How could anyone, especially supposed leaders of the culture war, label young men in MAGA hats as Nazis, carelessly deploying the same empty, meaningless insults the left uses to destroy lives? No one has forgotten that Kirk condemned the Covington boys before he praised them.
If the energy behind the Groyper insurgency has you worried about an actual rising tide of ethno-nationalism, Facebook and Twitter are to blame. Silicon Valley censorship created Nick Fuentes. The true culture warriors on the right, save for the president himself, were silenced by Big Tech when it became clear how beloved and effective they were. Love them or hate them, the likes of Alex Jones, Gavin McInnes, Roger Stone, and Milo Yiannopoulos built large followings of young right-wing men. They could be mean, offensive, shocking, and totally bonkers but they weren’t consciously steering their audience towards ethno-nationalism. They also understood and listened to their audience better than anyone else in living memory in the conservative movement.
Their un-personing left a gigantic void in the national discourse that Conservatism, Inc, ill-equipped, rushed in to fill. These new interlopers lack the talent, insight, intelligence, and grit of the Banned. (Full disclosure, I also personally know Yiannopoulos and McInnes and have worked with them before). It also created the opportunity for extremely self-confident zoomer Fuentes to rise up and give a contrarian, challenging voice against the new, unelected face of Trumpism. Had the aforementioned provocateurs never been banned, Turning Point would be in no one’s crosshairs, but just another, milder delegation sitting under the big tent. No one would have heard of Nick Fuentes.