House Speaker Paul Ryan is one of the most loathsome characters in Washington. But believe it or not, it was possible that the people of Wisconsin’s 1st District could have been saddled with far worse. His opponent in the Republican primary, Paul Nehlen, is a 200 percent rabid racist and anti-Semite.
Nehlen originally challenged Ryan in 2016, running as a Wisconsin version of Donald Trump. Besides his hardline stance on immigration, he mused that we need to “have a discussion” about kicking Muslims out of the country. Trump himself liked what he saw; he flirted with endorsing Nehlen in 2016. Ultimately, Nehlen got destroyed, taking only 16 percent of the primary vote.
Undaunted, Nehlen sought a rematch in 2018, and made a name for himself by rebranding himself as a full-blown white nationalist. But his efforts took a severe hit over the weekend, when he was permanently banished from Twitter.
Over the last few months, Nehlen appeared on a number of white nationalist podcasts, on which he openly and unashamedly blew white supremacist dog whistles. He also shared noxious alt-right memes on Gab, a Twitter alternative favored by far-right elements due to its laissez-faire attitude about trolling.
He also accused people who called him out of being “anti-white,” and on at least one occasion went as far as to attack one of his Jewish critics with an “echo,” a meme white nationalists and neo-Nazis use to flag supposed Jewish influence. Lately, he has promised to introduce legislation that would fine social media platforms $500,000 for “wrongful censorship,” and has promoted it with the hashtag “#ShallNotCensor.”
Despite this, it appeared that Nehlen would have enough support to at the very least keep Ryan tied down. After all, Breitbart News and Steve Bannon had thrown their considerable weight behind him. But that ended in late December, when Breitbart cut ties with him. He’d posted a white nationalist meme that showed a cross saying “It’s okay to be white” between two crosses saying “No it’s not”–implying that Jesus was a white nationalist. He’d also tweeted images of himself reading a blatantly anti-Semitic book, “The Culture of Critique” by Kevin McDonald.
Bannon adviser Arthur Schwartz claimed that Breitbart hadn’t known about Nehlen’s white nationalist sloganeering before. Once it came to light, Schwartz said, Nehlen was “dead to us.” Never mind that Nehlen’s anti-Semitism had been very loud and very vulgar for some time.
In January, Nehlen fired off a series of tweets in which he railed about Jewish influence in the media. He shared several pictures of the more prominent people at several media organizations, with a Star of David attached to those who were either Jewish or had Jewish spouses. Sarah Rumpf of RedState got screenshots of some of them.
The screenshots of Nehlen’s “Jewish Media” tweets aren’t showing up on mobile, so I’m going to RT them here. (To be very clear: I think they are vile & do not support this. I am RTing only to shine a spotlight on his anti-Semitism)
1/3 — CNN pic.twitter.com/visKfNZRTX
— Sarah Rumpf (@rumpfshaker) January 23, 2018
2/3 — NBC pic.twitter.com/vgOiIoKhIP
— Sarah Rumpf (@rumpfshaker) January 23, 2018
3/3 — Fox News pic.twitter.com/7wyyqm4QO4
— Sarah Rumpf (@rumpfshaker) January 23, 2018Loading...
For that screed, Nehlen was suspended from Twitter for a week.
This gets better all the time. pic.twitter.com/ELchcdemSO
— Crisis Actors Guild (@EyesOnTheRight) January 24, 2018
Nehlen was right back at it after he returned. But he finally went too far this weekend when he posted a picture of Prince Harry and his fiancee, Megan Markle. He photoshopped a picture of “Cheddar Man,” an artist’s rendition of a dark-skinned man believed to be the first inhabitant of the British Isles.
Nehlen was blowing two racist dog whistles for the price of one. Markle is a biracial American, and her impending marriage to Harry has caused the loonier fringes of the right to howl in outrage. Additionally, the picture of Cheddar Man has enraged white nationalists who consider the British Isles a homeland for whites. Nehlen himself has claimed that Cheddar Man is part of a concerted effort aimed at “disappearing whites from their homelands.”
By Sunday afternoon, Twitter had permanently banned Nehlen. In response, users on 4chan urged Twitter users to change their profile pictures to pictures of Nehlen and use the hashtags “#ShallNotCensor” and “#freepaulnehlen.” By Sunday night, numerous deplorables responded to the call, much to Nehlen’s delight.
Nehlen is still blowing alt-right dog whistles. In a press release condemning the ban, he harped on the supposed role of the Anti-Defamation League and “foreign persons and entities. His campaign spokesman, Josh Smith, shared the statement on his Twitter.
He also has a section on his Website declaring that “America First” means keeping this country from becoming a “#NoCuckZone.”
Granted, it’s going to be harder for Nehlen to spread his bilge without his Twitter account. But the mere fact that he is still in the race at all says a lot about the state of our politics.
(featured image courtesy Nehlen’s Facebook)