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Is America First Cracking Up?

[1]2,475 words

When online drama heralds something new and important for white identity politics, Counter-Currents will cover it so you don’t have to watch hours of video and read thousands of comments on multiple platforms. One such event is the recent blowup between America First (AF) streamer Nick Fuentes and activist Ryan Sanchez, better known as Culture War Criminal (CWC), in a public Telegram call that was recorded and put on YouTube, where it garnered hundreds of comments before being taken down. It has now been uploaded to Bitchute [2]. Although Fuentes isn’t as unhinged in it as Richard Spencer was in his post-Charlottesville rant, it is still deeply damaging to Fuentes and his associates Beardson Beardly and Baked Alaska. The vast majority of comments ranged between calling this debacle at best a red flag, and at worst, the final nail in the coffin of Fuentes’ America First movement.

Culture War Criminal’s message is similar to the one I outlined in “A Message for Groypers [3],” namely that the movement should be focused on self-improvement and should shrug off the America First clique’s negative aspects: NEETism (Not in Education, Employment, or Training), disdain for physical training, and misogyny. The result of CWC’s valid constructive criticism was to be dog-piled and berated by four streamers (Beardson, Jaden McNeil, Nick Fuentes, and Baked Alaska), all of whom one would think would have been his allies in spreading a positive message to nationalist youth. Is the purpose of Right-wing politics in the modern era itself not to critique? And is critique not a path toward improvement? And has a healthy lifestyle not been a perennial part of almost every iteration of nationalism?

So why are people getting fed up with Fuentes?

First, many have come to think that Fuentes has narcissistic tendencies. A healthy sense of self-respect would be natural in one who has gained so much fame so fast, but Fuentes routinely seems to go far beyond that into outright grandiosity. His attitude while talking to CWC came across as invoking papal infallibility, and he made numerous appeals to hierarchy and authority. He even smugly proclaimed (at 41:30) that he has created “many miracles” over the course of his career, such as getting Trump Junior booed offstage during the famous Groyper Wars. This was rather jarring, because the Groyper Wars, while launched by Fuentes, were a group effort by their very nature, because they required young men (one of whom was CWC) to show up in real life to crash Turning Point USA (TPUSA) events.

This narcissism has led to other problems as well. For instance, the American Populist Union conference was an adjacent — though not explicitly “on brand” — get together of American Gen Z nationalists, many of them Fuentes fans. For a moment, it seemed that the AF movement was growing beyond its supposedly fixed bounds. Many were thrilled, because a rising tide lifts all boats. Fuentes, however had the opposite reaction:

I don’t have a problem particularly, necessarily, with the APU people. But here’s the thing. They did snub me. They had their big conference the other day and they snubbed me. They didn’t ask me to speak, they didn’t ask me to go, and they made it clear that they didn’t want me there. And they don’t dislike me. I guess they like me, but they made it clear that they didn’t want me there. They do their event and it was very obviously influenced by me and my show. They were literally ripping sections of speeches that I had done. It sounded just like me . . . I know what they are trying to do. They don’t want to be associated with me because they think I’m a liability.

Fuentes then claimed that “It’s not about my ego,” which rings hollow. Several conservatives who used to be closer to Fuentes have subsequently backed away, and I can’t help but wonder if they are deterred by Fuentes’ ego. It is baffling that a grassroots organizer would not be thrilled about an independent conference which signified Fuentes’ own prophecy that “America First is inevitable” was coming true.

Second, many onlookers are connecting Fuentes’ narcissist tendencies to his inability to assimilate valid criticism, as seen in his banishment of the well-known dissident and former activist Patrick Casey from the movement. This was in large part due to a dispute he had with Beardson Beardly — more on him later — over whether it was a good idea for Fuentes to host a political conference immediately after January 6. Fuentes also concealed the fact that he was under federal investigation. This dispute quickly escalated into excommunication, similar to his recent attack on CWC. While the conference was ultimately a success, Casey’s concerns were not unfounded, and it is interesting that other movement personalities tendered various alibis for not attending. This hostility toward valid criticism seems to be the main catalyst for the current debacle.

Even though I had been warned, I was still surprised to hear Fuentes himself declare “I’m sick of people who are not as successful as me constantly doubting and questioning and criticizing my judgment,” as if criticism is not part and parcel of politics, from local dog catcher to POTUS. Fuentes went on to attack CWC merely for associating with Red Pill Gaming, a minor streamer who criticized Fuentes far more often and forcefully than CWC. Strangely, of all Red Pill Gaming’s criticisms, the one which most irked Fuentes was the prevalence of black rap music in what is supposed to be a pro-white movement. To me that’s a perfectly valid point, or at least not something to become upset about.

Third, there is a general sense that the “movement malaise” has gotten to Fuentes as well. After the Biden coup, many of our people have become demoralized and are looking for leadership and vision. But Fuentes seems to be perplexed and paralyzed as well. He repeatedly invokes the mantra of “trust the plan,” which is ironic because he very correctly lambasted the QAnon people for precisely the same attitude. However, after January 6 he seems to have stalled, much like Trump. In Fuentes’ defense, though, he is under enormous pressure, still produces a high-quality show, and all of us were all-shell shocked after Biden’s coup.

But the critics still make good points. Notwithstanding a summer road trip and his show, Fuentes has produced little to nothing over the past nine months. This is despite supposedly having a robust intern program for the America First Foundation and Jaden helping out behind the scenes. A collection of college groups, America First Students, seems to have stalled completely. There admittedly was a Groyper attack on the comments section of a TPUSA event, but it was entirely online. There has not even been a vague hint as to what to expect next in the real world.

[4]

You can buy Greg Johnson’s The Year America Died by clicking here [5].

Yes, the whole movement is paralyzed, but how much slack should we cut Fuentes for being just like the rest of us? After all, there’s one crucial way in which he is not “just like the rest of us”: He puts himself forward as a leader. But it is starting to look like Fuentes is in retreat. He might prefer to merely run his show and cater to his fanatically loyal niche audience of self-described “zoomer incel gamers” rather than grow into an inspiring, revolutionary leader in a larger — and more successful — grassroots movement. I understand the temptation. Streaming for gamers is Fuentes’ comfort zone. He’s good at it. He feels he can control his audience — but he may feel that the larger America First movement, not to mention events on the national stage, is out of his hands.

If Fuentes feels lost, he has plenty of people who could help him out. He has contacts across the American dissident movement, several of whom are household names, most notably sitting Congressman Paul Gossar and retired Congressman Steve King. Consider the fact that normal people are willing to pay for mentorship by former Special Forces operatives like Jocko Willink or real estate gurus like Grant Cardone, and in a group setting. Fuentes has access to two elected officials who I assume would be thrilled to provide mentorship for free, and one on one. Reaching out to them for advice would be a sign of strength, not weakness. However, it would also require humility, which is in short supply for the miracle man.

Fourth, although Fuentes is hesitant to seek out criticism from mentors, he loves to bask in the praise of sycophants. This is bad in itself, but Fuentes’ taste in sycophants has a lot of people questioning his judgment. Fuentes has placed Beardson Beardly and Baked Alaska in prominent positions where they represent America First to the wider world and are close to the levers of power. For those unaware, Beardson is a 4’11” gaming streamer in his mid-30s, married but without kids, who frequently instigates drama and has the physique and bearing of the soyboys we routinely mock. There is no getting around the fact that he is a poor role model and ambassador. Baked Alaska, also a streamer, is a former BuzzFeed journalist who disavowed dissident politics after Charlottesville and has acquired notoriety for engaging in antics like blasting profanity through loudspeakers.

During the public Telegram call with CWC, Baked and Beardson behaved like classic sycophants: sucking up to Fuentes while attacking CWC in a surprisingly vicious, oftentimes unhinged, manner while Fuentes gloatingly presided over most of the disgusting display. Although Fuentes’ manner was more professional, there is no way that he did not implicitly endorse Baked’s and Beardson’s behavior towards CWC. Fuentes was clearly eating it up. Fuentes even warned CWC that he might end up like Patrick Casey, though I am puzzled how he hasn’t already.

By contrast, CWC came across as a charitable, good-faith actor who gave his debate opponents every opportunity to walk back their claims and offer reconciliation. They never did and only continued to berate him, which he took with the stoicism of a Marine. In contrast to Beardson and Baked, Jaden was relatively polite towards CWC. I don’t know if this was part of a good cop/bad cop strategy, but it is interesting to note because the streamers who attacked CWC contend that his constructive criticism was specifically leveled at Jaden instead of the movement in general.

A normal reaction to good-faith criticism is to ignore it if it doesn’t apply to you, and act upon it if it does. If I were to say “America has an obesity problem,” I would expect fit people to ignore it and good people to act upon it, if they think they could lose some weight. The people who would be offended by such a statement and ask, “Who are you calling fat!?” would be implicitly admitting that they have a problem. I have to assume that Beardson and Baked are conscious of the fact that their lifestyle needs improvement, while Jaden is less sensitive, because he is known for doing a lot of work behind the scenes.

This naturally flows into another issue, which is a lack of clear structure in the America First movement. Baked, Beardson, and Fuentes made numerous references to hierarchy and authority. However, CWC was confused about who held what position and what those positions entailed. “Groyper General” was a common phrase that arose after the Groyper Wars to signify those leaders whom the Groypers coalesced around from below, and whom Fuentes approved of from above. They were usually streamers. However, Beardson, while close to AF and Fuentes, was supposedly not part of AF, and thus not within AF’s hierarchy. Fuentes’ responses to CWC only left me more confused about Beardson’s status. The hierarchy seems to have become rather muddled, with people having authority in relation to how much Fuentes approves of them on any particular day.

While I have tried to remain objective thus far, it is difficult to do so when people like Baked and Beardson were screeching at CWC about hierarchy. CWC is a well-dressed, fit Marine veteran who routinely does activism in real life. Although young, he has accomplished just as much if not more than Baked and Beardson. Both of them even shouted “f— the troops” in what seemed to be a failed attempt to goad CWC into losing composure. This seemed born out of resentment. Besides, why would anyone want to alienate the many veterans and active-duty men who are disillusioned with the regime for a cheap debate taunt?

At the end of the call, Baked came on and accused CWC of being a federal agent and a “wignat,” or wigger nationalist. Baked offered no evidence for the first charge. That CWC looks like a typical ex-Marine does not make him a fed. Disbarring people from the movement for military service and having a nice haircut doesn’t seem like a sound strategy. Oddly enough, though, Baked has been out on bail despite having livestreamed himself in the Capitol and the fact that many other January 6 protesters — most of them far less controversial — are under house arrest or in the DC gulag. I do not want to perpetuate the climate of mistrust that is all too common in the movement, but if anyone is a fed, it is probably Baked Alaska. Besides, his behavior in the upcoming Louis Theroux documentary will not put the movement in a good light. I don’t know if it was intentional, but it is suspicious.

As for the charge of “wignat,” it means nationalists with poor optics: out of shape, badly groomed, degenerate, or using Third Reich aesthetics. However, the only evidence Baked offered to back up his accusation of wignat was that CWC was formerly part of Identity Evropa (IE), which is pretty much the exact opposite of wignattery. Interestingly, Fuentes was also part of IE, although he has tried to downplay that fact. In many ways, IE was the model for the Groypers and America First.

If you can judge a man by the company he keeps, then Beardson and Baked reflect very poorly on Fuentes.

Like many narcissists, Fuentes wishes to avoid anything that might burst his ego, especially criticism and risk. Exposing ourselves to criticism and risks is how we mature, however. Thus, as they age, narcissists seem increasingly juvenile compared to others in their age cohort. But no movement of consequence will even be run by an overgrown fratboy, fanboy, or zoomer incel gamer. Thus, it should be no surprise if American nationalists start gravitating toward the American Populist Union or John Doyle, a speaker at the conference who supposedly “snubbed” Fuentes. Other nationalist personality types seem to be gravitating towards Bronze Age Pervert or the National Justice Party, as suits their tastes.

“America First is inevitable” was a great slogan because it is true, but it was never inevitable that Nick Fuentes would lead it.

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