Posted on March 2, 2022

G.O.P. Leaders Condemn Lawmakers’ Appearance at White Nationalist Conference

Jonathan Weisman and Annie Karni, New York Times, February 28, 2022

Republican congressional leaders on Monday broke their silence about the participation of two House Republicans at a far-right conference with ties to white supremacy, denouncing the actions of Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona.

Three days after Ms. Greene appeared in person and Mr. Gosar by video at the America First Political Action Conference, organized by a prominent white supremacist, Nick Fuentes, the responses reflected mounting pressure on top Republicans to denounce extremists in their ranks.

They followed a sharp condemnation by the Republican Jewish Coalition and a more oblique one by the Republican National Committee, and marked a rare public rebuke by G.O.P. congressional leaders, who have more often stayed mum in response to outrageous language and conduct by their hard-right members.

By Monday afternoon, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader who aspires to be speaker, told reporters at the Capitol that he found the pair’s behavior “appalling and wrong.”

After taking Republicans to Israel and the hallowed museum of the Holocaust, Yad Vashem, Mr. McCarthy said, he had returned to Washington to find that two colleagues “went and participated with a group that has a leader that many times gives antisemitic views, and led a chant for Putin.”

“The party should not be associated any time, any place with somebody who is antisemitic,” he added {snip}

His comments came not long after Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the top Senate Republican, released a statement saying, “There’s no place in the Republican Party for white supremacists or antisemitism.”

Ms. Greene has rejected criticism of her participation, at first saying that she did not know who Mr. Fuentes was. But on Sunday, she issued a rambling, defiant broadside that edged into antisemitism when she decried her attackers as “the Pharisees in the Republican Party,” referring to an ancient group of Jewish leaders whom Jesus called hypocrites.

“We’re not going to be deterred by journalists and Washington insiders who fear the name of our Lord, and relentlessly attack those of us who proclaim his name,” Ms. Greene said. “We know that Christ is our only judge.”


Without naming any members, the Republican National Committee chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, said on Sunday that “white supremacy, neo-Nazism, hate speech and bigotry are disgusting and do not have a home in the Republican Party.”

Mr. Fuentes, for his part, used the flap to promote his own gathering.

“After a day of vicious attacks against Marjorie Taylor Greene for speaking at AFPAC last night, Donald Trump gives her a shout-out and endorsement from the main stage at CPAC,” he wrote on his Telegram account, before suggesting that Mr. Trump would attend in the future.

Kenneth S. Stern, director of the Bard Center for the Study of Hate at Bard College, said the moment was reminiscent of the late 1980s and early 1990s when David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, was making inroads into the Republican Party and trying to push his ideas into the mainstream.

In 1991, President George H.W. Bush called a news conference to denounce Mr. Duke as a “charlatan” who did not deserve “one iota of public trust.”

“When someone has so recently endorsed Nazism, it is inconceivable that someone can reasonably aspire to a leadership role in a free society,” he said.


For Republicans, the issue is sensitive. Ms. Greene said she would not be silenced when she is addressing the youthful activists who should be groomed into the next generation of Republican voters.

“We must tutor our youth in the ways of righteousness so they do not stray into darkness,” she said.

And the energy on the far right is young, led by Mr. Fuentes and his “groypers,” who have tempered their racist language as they aim to take their ideas of white nationalism into the mainstream.

It is also not at all clear that Republicans would pay a price for the actions on their right.