Laura Ingraham, host of the Ingraham Angle on Fox News, is in some pretty deep trouble right now. On her show on Thursday evening, Ingraham showed a graphic of right-wing voices who had been banned from various social media platforms, mostly for hate speech in the direction of racism. However inflammatory they may have been, though, none were on the level of Paul Nehlen of Wisconsin.
Nehlen once ran against former House Speaker Paul Ryan in an effort to upset Ryan in the primary. At one point in time, Nehlen was a darling of former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon’s Breitbart website. However, when Nehlen went full anti-Semite, he even that self-professed “platform of the alt-right” disavowed him. He was permanently banned from Twitter for being an open anti-semite. Nehlen is, in fact, so vicious in his white nationalism that even the alt-right social media site Gab has banned him as well.
Part of the mass distancing from Nehlen even among the racist contingents of American politics is just how far he will go in his open bigotry. He first defended and praised the organizers of the deadly “Unite the Right” riot in Charlottesville, Virginia. Wisconsin’s Republican Party saw this activity as abhorrent and disavowed Nehlen altogether.
However, that did not stop Ingraham from including him in her lineup of “prominent voices” who have been silenced. Twitter was quick to notice what she was up to here:
Wait. @IngrahamAngle is defending Paul Nehlen?
Paul Nehlen, the literal Nazi who has laughed about the Holocaust and wrote up lists of Jewish journalists? That Paul Nehlen? https://t.co/WoyebCUKlP
— Matthew Chapman (@fawfulfan) May 31, 2019
Paul Nehlen @IngrahamAngle ??? And here I thought that Nazi salute of yours was just a mistimed wave and overeager haters on the left..
— Jeremy Newberger (@jeremynewberger) May 31, 2019
This is really stunning, even for Fox. Nehlen is an open white supremacist who uses racial and anti-Semitic slurs. Ingraham describes him and others in this clip as "people who believe in border enforcement, people who believe in national sovereignty." https://t.co/8HoAKpGAzn
— Will Sommer (@willsommer) May 31, 2019
JFC. This is insane. Paul Nehlen is a white nationalist and an anti-Semite.https://t.co/spt7AmG5K4
— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) May 31, 2019
This is not Ingraham’s first rodeo with controversial content. When she went after Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg, she lost many of her advertisers. No one wanted to be associated with a television host with such a huge platform who chose to spend airtime bullying a teenage survivor of a high school shooting. Now this latest kerfuffle comes as she, along with others on the Fox network, are constantly defending the Trump Administration and the Republican Party against accusations of racism and white supremacy.
What is even worse is that the guest on the show when Ingraham was championing Nehlen along with other controversial, but not nearly as extreme as Nehlen, voices, was none other than Candance Owens, the black conservative who has been used by racist right-wingers to cover their racism.
Owens was in full agreement with Ingraham that right-wingers are being “silenced” on social media, but she says it “works for us” – presumably meaning conservatives – since such action only serves to enrage their fellow conservatives. After all, according to Owens, “when you ban somebody’s favorite political commentator… they double down and dig their heels in.”
Perhaps this is true, especially in this tribal era. However, it would seem that someone like Nehlen being included in a list of mainstream conservatives in such a context would hurt the conservative brand, which is already engaged in a constant battle to absolve itself of its white nationalist image. That is something, to be frank, that will never happen as long as mouthpieces like Laura Ingraham keep talking, and it certainly will not happen as long as Donald Trump is in the White House.
The deeper implication here, though, is this: Have we as a nation gotten too complacent when it comes to the alt-right? After all, after the first horrific incident in Charlottesville, they saw what they had done as a victory. Then, things changed. One of their leaders, Chris Cantwell, was branded the “crying Nazi” when he learned that he could go to prison for his activities during the deadly rally. Another, Matthew Heimbach, lost his job as a social worker practically before he got started due to the fact that one Google search turned up his white nationalist leanings. He is appealing that firing. Here is a video report on that incidence:
Heimbach was later arrested for domestic violence as well for his involvement in a love triangle of sorts with his stepfather-in-law’s wife. Then, the biggest leader of them all, the one who started the alt-right movement, Richard Spencer, dissolved his racist organization the National Policy Institute and essentially has stopped doing anything with in the movement. So, to that end, people have assumed that all of the dangerous white nationalist horror we saw peak in the summer of 2017 must be over. They could not have been more wrong. In fact, Vice News even did a follow-up on how the alt-right was over in the post-Charlottesville America:
The above segment falls in stark contrast to the original news story on an emboldened white supremacist movement:
However, we cannot let the idea that the alt-right has been hobbled make us complacent. The ideas that fueled that hateful rally are still there, but in a much more dangerous place. Laura Ingraham defending the likes of Paul Nehlen on a national, mainstream conservative news network is no accident, and it did not happen in a vacuum. The alt-right is not marching with torches anymore. They are sitting in anchor chairs at Fox News, namely in the form of hosts like Laura Ingraham and her fellow primetime white nationalist wannabe, Tucker Carlson.
This makes this whole movement much more dangerous. At least with events like Charlottesville, we know who these folks are, and what they want. It is much more insidious with mainstream conservatives consuming these ever more extreme ideas like gospel. This is how radicalization happens, folks. It’s not on the streets of Charlottesville, or on the social media networks that do all they can to quell it. It’s coming right into the living rooms of average, everyday Americans. And the more their trusted commentators convince them that these ideas are the truth, the more they will feel compelled to do something with them in the real world.
Here is the episode of Ingraham’s show that is so appalling to so many people: