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The Groypers (America First)


Insurgency Overview


The Groypers, also known as the ‘Groyper Army’ or America First, are a movement of far-right nationalists in the US who first emerged online, but began to also move into the offline world in 2019. The name ‘Groypers’ originates from the Groyper frog image, which rose to popularity as a racist-coded version of the Pepe the Frog meme; the Pepe image is often associated with the alt-right. Groypers typically describe themselves as American nationalists and have similar beliefs to the alt-right. Their focus on gathering Gen Z support marks them out as a new type of movement, as they seek to form a base of support among younger people. Groypers present their movement under the wider ideology of Christian nationalism, and exploit divisions in more mainstream right-wing politics to attract disaffected conservatives. (1)


One of the hallmarks of the Groyper movement is following an alt-right figure named Nick Fuentes, who is a white supremacist, nationalist livestreamer, and Holocaust denier (1). He is an outspoken fan of fascists such as Mussolini, and seeks to pull the American Republican party further to the extreme right. Fuentes rose to prominence during the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement after the 2020 US election, which used disinformation to promote the idea that Donald Trump was the ‘real’ winner of the Presidency instead of President Joe Biden, and sought to overturn the result. Through his nightly ‘America First’ show and his America First Foundation, Fuentes has continued to both monetize his popularity and utilize it to further promote his alt-right ideas. The Groyper movement therefore coalesces around the ‘America First’ show, and other popular figures in a similar alt-right space, such as Michelle Malkin, an American conservative political commentator who sits on the board of Fuentes’ alt-right America First Foundation, and to whom some of his fans refer to as “Mommy”. (2)


History & Foundations


The origins of the Groyper movement are complex to trace due to its lack of coherent membership: rather a loose gathering of people with similar views than an organization, the Groypers developed out of the recent history of the alt-right. The ‘alt-right’ is a term first coined by a member of the movement, and key figurehead, Richard Bertrand Spencer, another right-wing public figure, who heads the National Policy Institute, an extreme right think tank (3). He is also the American editor of his own website, Altright.com, which he launched on 16 January 2017. Formerly, Spencer headed a webzine named AlternativeRight, which he founded in 2010, aimed at the ‘intellectual right-wing’. He is also a former editor of Radix (4). At its core, the alt-right represents a break from more conventional conservatism, in favor of anarcho-capitalism, traditional Catholicism, individual sovereignty and open markets as opposed to an organized state, a flavor of libertarian thought exemplified by US Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), and experimentation with ideas from the French New Right. (3)


Following the rise to prominence of the alt-right in the US, came the ‘Unite the Right’ rally on 12 August 2017 in Charlottesville, where more than 200 white nationalists gathered, including rifle-toting militia members. This rally followed an unsanctioned march through the campus of Virginia University the day before, where a few hundred white nationalists had brandished Tiki-torches and chanted “Jews will not replace us” while encircling a Confederate monument. At the Charlottesville rally, a white nationalist murdered antifascist activist, Heather Heyer, by driving his car into a crowd of demonstrators. Following Heyer’s murder, the alt-right was pushed into the national spotlight; websites were taken down, some rally participants lost their jobs, and the term ‘alt-right’ became synonymous with murderous white nationalist rage. (5)


It is here where the Groypers, and Nick Fuentes, began to pick up where the alt-right had faltered. Sharing much of the alt-right’s ideology, Groypers sought to rebrand it so that it was more approachable, palatable, and distanced from the violence of Charlottesville. There is also a sense in the Groyper movement that Spencer’s version of the far-right failed due to its divergence from traditional Christianity, which Fuentes maintains as a key part of his own ideology. Fuentes himself rose to prominence during the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement to overturn the 2020 election result, and has continued to push his ideas via his daily show ‘America First’. His audience is largely quite young, something he credits himself for. As well as being a Holocaust denier (1) Fuentes is also a self-described incel and male supremacist, and like many other far-right figures, utilizes young men’s vulnerability around dating and sex to lure them into a landscape of extremist politics. Livetreaming on Cozy.tv, Fuentes has been accused by former ally Patrick Casey of cultivating a “cult-like” atmosphere in his following. Fuentes himself stated in a 2021 livestream that “cults are really the only place where there’s… loyalty.”(2)


Ideology & Objectives


The ideology of the Groyper movement is best described as being hardline alt-right, or extreme conservative, subscribing to white nationalism and often Nazism. According to a YouTube documentary made by a right-wing YouTuber, Oliver King, the alt-right became disappointed with the failure of Trump’s presidency to fulfill many of their political ideals. King himself goes between addressing his followers as “fellow Groypers” and insisting he does not know the “mindset of this subsect”; however, he expresses agreement with many of the hard-right talking points he is covering. He says that the new alt-right figures “believe they’re chosen by God”, and keep Christianity at the center of their movement; he summarizes this movement as having “hardline beliefs”. King states that “America First has fine-tuned the amount you can dip into the far-right while still maintaining a palatable face. [...] All of the alt-right taboo, none of the Nazi aesthetic”. The goal of this, as he perceives it, is to push “forbidden subjects” to “expand the boundaries of what are acceptable political topics, to break away from what the establishment lets us question and talk about, and engage in the most uncomfortable ideas, and live up to the decree of free speech.”


King also confirms that “most people on Cozy [Cozy.tv, a popular online platform for this brand of the alt-right] believe in genetic differences among races, specifically in behavior and intelligence.” While he states that “the mainstream right focuses on differences in culture, creating a hierarchy of most to least productive cultures, and attributing to that the disparity in crime rates and intelligence”, the Groypers focus on genetic differences. Though he first insists some cultures are simply “more counterproductive”, and that he himself “lean[s] away from race realism” and is simply “healthily skeptical” as opposed to what he calls “the mainstream’s hypersensitivity”, King then presents arguments as to why, according to him, black people have a “lower IQ”. (6)


The Groyper movement’s ultimate goals align with much of the rest of the extreme right-wing: they seek to end immigration to the US, as they are worried it will further boost the Democratic vote. They see the more mainstream conservative landscape as weak and unable to confront such subjects, sometimes referring to it as “Conservative Inc.” Groypers believe that by ignoring traditional family values (or accepting LGBTQ+ people) and discussions of demographics, mainstream conservatism has sold out to the left on the culture war front, and needs to be dragged back to the right. (1) In addition, Groypers believe that to put “America First”, the US should not only close its borders and push back on ‘liberal’ values like rights for women and LGBTQ+ people, but also oppose globalism, instead promoting traditional Christian values. They do not see their racism and antisemitism as bigoted, but instead as shared by the majority of white people and as being necessary to preserve white, European-American identity and culture. (7)


Approach to Resistance


Following various rounds of deplatforming, Groyper figures have been pushed off websites such as YouTube, into lesser known recesses of the internet, such as Cozy.tv, where they are not subject to content moderation rules. Fuentes has expressed admiration of Stalin, Putin, and other figures who have opposed what King calls “the American regime”. (6) As King points out, Fuentes’ authoritarian tendencies are at odds with a love of American democracy, and many of the livestreamer’s followers brush these views off as jokes or attempts to stoke controversy, when in fact Fuentes seems to be predicting that a period of instability in the US will lead to the rise of a ‘strongman’ leader, a scenario Fuentes does not seem particularly perturbed by. The Groyper approach to political discourse is then, as exemplified by Fuentes, generally one of trolling: this first began, and often still remains, online, but at an October 2019 TPUSA event at Ohio State University, this trolling could be seen jumping off the computer screen into the real world, as Groypers repeatedly trolled the speaker with racist and homophobic questions, as well as telling the audience to Google a famous antisemitic meme. (7) Many figures in the America First movement take to Cozy.tv as livestreamers, with some also doing campus speaking dates, debates, and interviews to showcase their views, as well as attending Fuentes’ rallies. (6)

This thread from Twitter shows one member of the Groypers posing in front of the Columbine high school with a fake firearm. It is worth noting that the Tweet itself is from a biased source, but the clip is real footage of the Groypers' actions.


The Groypers also took their politics to the America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC), which has hosted a variety of speakers in its 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 iterations and which takes place at the same time as the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Appearances at AFPAC include Rep. Paul Gosar (2021) and former congressman Steve King (2021), Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (2022), Idaho Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin (2022), and Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers (2022). The location of the 2023 event however, was only disclosed at the last minute on Telegram, and described as a “rally” rather than a conference. It remained Fuentes’ first outing in public since some of his close collaborators following the desertion of some of his close collaborators in June 2022. (8) These defections include Jaden McNeil and Simon Dickerman, who both played an important role in the building of the America First movement. It remains to be seen what the next political actions might be from the movement, which has fallen somewhat out of the spotlight since the desertions of its most important figurehead. (9)


Relations & Alliances


America First sits primarily in opposition to the Republic party and mainstream conservatism, referring to members of these movements as “cuckservatives” (7), and therefore shares viewpoints with many other alt-right groups. However, they do not really form alliances with any other groups, for a few reasons: firstly, the Groypers are a decentralized, disparate movement of individuals, rather than an organization. They do not hold meetings, or decide policies, meaning they lack the political momentum to form codified relations with other groups.


Additionally, the Groypers often argue that it is not only mainstream conservatism that has failed, but the alt-right. Figures affiliated with America First often dismiss Casey’s iteration of the alt-right, or groups like the Proud Boys, as being too atheist, having bad optics, or simply being unsuccessful. They therefore seek to distance themselves from these groups, instead forming a new, palatable, suit-and-tie-wearing version of the far-right, which keeps Catholicism, or traditional Christian values, at its core. For this reason, America First has thus far shunned forming alliances in favor of growing its own popularity and defining itself by being in opposition to other forms of conservatism.

Works Cited (Chicago-Style)

(1) - ‘Groypers’. ISD Explainers. Institute for Strategic Dialogue. Accessed 19 July 2023. https://www.isdglobal.org/explainers/groypers/


(2) - ‘Nick Fuentes’. Southern Poverty Law Centre. Accessed 19 July 2023. https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/nick-fuentes


(3) - ‘Alt-Right’. Southern Poverty Law Centre. Accessed 19 July 2023. https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/ideology/alt-right


(4) - ‘Richard Bertrand Spencer’. Southern Poverty Law Center. Accessed 19 July 2023. https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/richard-bertrand-spencer-0


(5) - ‘From Alt-Right to Groyper: White Nationalists Rebrand for 2020 and Beyond’. Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights. Accessed 20 July 2023. https://www.irehr.org/reports/alt-right-to-groyper/


(6) - King, Oliver. ‘Generation America First: Rise of Nick Fuentes (ft Kai Clips) - A Critique and a Love Letter’. YouTube. 8 September 2022. Accessed 19 July 2023. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CALjcPx_4P4&t=20s


(7) - ‘Groyper Army and “America First”’. ADL. Accessed 20 July 2023. https://www.adl.org/resources/backgrounder/groyper-army-and-america-first


(8) - Gais, Hannah; Newton, Creede. ‘Nick Fuentes Holds Racist Conference Across From CPAC’. Southern Poverty Law Center. 4 March 2023. Accessed 21 July 2023. https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2023/03/04/nick-fuentes-holds-racist-conference-across-cpac


(9) - Hayden Edison, Michael; Gais, Hannah; Squire, Meghan. ‘Pro-Trumpt White Nationalist Group Facing Key Desertions’. Southern Poverty Law Center. 2 June 2022. Accessed 21 July 2023. https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2022/06/02/pro-trump-white-nationalist-group-facing-key-desertions

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