“Can we get a round of applause for Russia?” asked Nick Fuentes, on stage last week at a white nationalist event. Amid a roar of applause for the Russian president, just days after he invaded Ukraine, many attendees responded by shouting: “Putin! Putin!”
Conservative activists and elected officials from across United States attend CPAC 2022, in Orlando
Greg Aselbekian, supporter of former President Trump, sells hats as he attends the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, U.S.
It would be easy to dismiss the America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC) in Orlando, Florida, as a radical fringe. But speeches by two Republican members of Congress – one in person, the other via video – guaranteed national attention and controversy.
The backlash showed how the war in Ukraine has exposed the American far right’s affinity with Putin. That affinity is complicated by the tortured relationship between Russia and former president Donald Trump, whose rise Moscow supported with a covert operation to undermine US democracy.
Fuentes, a notorious antisemite, created AFPAC to coincide with the more mainstream Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), where Trump was the headline speaker last Saturday.
At AFPAC, Fuentes introduced the Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who would this week interrupt the State of the Union address, rising to yell “Build the wall!” as an objection to Joe Biden’s immigration policy. But here she did not interrupt to object to the chanting of the Russian president’s name.
“I don’t believe anyone should be canceled,” Taylor Greene told the attendees of the white nationalist conference. She lashed out at a wide range of topics from Marxism to cancel culture but avoided the invasion of Ukraine, saying even less on the topic than Russian state media.
Devin Burghart, executive director of Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights, said: “In the world of the white nationalists, you are seeing a lot of support for Putin, as expressed by the cheerleading at AFPAC over the weekend.” [Continue reading…]