A staffer for Arizona Republican Congressman Paul Gosar was revealed to have close connections to a white nationalist youth movement, the latest example of Gosar’s ties to and support of racists.
Earlier this week, Talking Points Memo detailed how Gosar’s digital director has been considered one the “strongest soldiers” for white nationalist leader Nick Fuentes. The staffer, Wade Searle, has been working for Gosar since November 2021. Searle’s other online personas traffic in racist rhetoric and in-person participated in events with Fuentes, including “#StopTheSteal” rallies in Phoenix.
Since Searle began managing Gosar’s digital activity, the Republican has posted a number of memes that spoke directly to groypers, the online white nationalist community Searle was a part of. The groypers are a collection of young white nationalists who use online trolling tactics against people they don’t like and aim to normalize extreme and racist views by aligning them with Christianity and so-called “traditional” values.
They’re all largely followers of Fuentes and they have a presence in the state and allies in Arizona.
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On Holocaust Remembrance Day in April 2022, Gosar shared and then later deleted a meme that has roots in neo-Nazi and white nationalist culture. The meme, which featured Gosar with a red filter, invoked an aesthetic known as “DarkMAGA,” which advocates for conservatives and former President Donald Trump to be more hardline and violent with their rhetoric.
“Remember when our government sent planes to Afghanistan and brought over 100,000 Afghans in less than a week?” Gosar wrote. “We have in the range of up to 40 million illegal aliens in our country. They can be deported by planes, trains and buses. We could easily deport 6 million each year.”
Many groypers quickly jumped on the 6 million number, which is the approximate number of Jews killed during the Holocaust and quote tweeted the meme using antisemitic language and celebrated Gosar’s embrace of “#DarkMaga.”
Many others also saw the tweet as a call to action and violence.
“A 9mm round is $0.49,” one user on Gab wrote, while one Twitter user wrote “#DayOfThePlane,” a reference to the white supremacist book the Turner Diaries in which white supremacist rebels take over California and engage in mass lynchings. The book was an inspiration for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
Gosar has also advertised his support to groypers on his social media. In January 2022, his Instagram account posted the photos of himself posing with several prominent members of the movement, including Greyson Arnold, a white nationalist pro-Nazi blogger who has administered a chat room in which antisemitism runs rampant, as well as anti-LGBTQ provocateur Ethan Schmidt.
Gosar was also scheduled to attend an event with the white nationalist group American Populist Union on Adolf Hitler’s birthday. Gosar campaign spokesman Rory McShane told the Arizona Mirror at the time that Gosar had never been invited to the event, even though Gosar promoted his scheduled appearance on his official Instagram account.
Just a month before Searle began officially working for Gosar, the congressman posted and deleted another meme that was popular among white nationalists and neo-Nazis. The meme, titled “Gosar Grindset,” was saved on the internet archive, begins with a cartoon image of a man looking dismayed as a number of headlines are displayed while the song “Little Dark Age” by MGMT plays.
Before the song crescendos, a buff cartoon with Gosar’s head superimposed on it appears in a doorway before the cartoon character, and a montage of Gosar is played before another photoshopped image of the congressman’s head on a muscular man is shown while a spinning “America First” logo is shown around his head.
The meme follows a format that is popular among online neo-Nazis and white nationalists who take the same song and superimpose it with images from Nazi Germany, as well as other imagery, the Mirror found.
Before Gosar deleted the tweet, some white nationalists and white supremacists on Twitter discussed its similarity to popular alt-right memes. One, for example, said the only difference between Gosar’s tweet and “w**nat” content was the lack of an image called a “spinsun.”
The term “w**nats” is used by the alt-right to describe people within the white nationalist movement that generally advocate for violence, antisemitism and accelerationism. The “spinsun” being referred to is a sonnenrad, another image used by Neo-Nazis, most notably by the Christchurch shooter in his manifesto and on his gear.
The meme that Gosar tweeted had a spinning “America First” logo around the congressman’s head.
Searle’s online alter ego, Chikken, said in a now-deleted post that he’d never use a sonnenrad in his videos.
“Btw, I’ll never use a sonnenrad or anything like that in my videos,” Searle said. “Esoteric nazi imagery is extremely generic (used in literally every w**nat edit without exception) and it takes a very talented editor to make it not look cringe – not worth the effort frankly.”
One of the main goals of groypers is to push conservatives in a white nationalist direction, and one way they attempt to do this is to present their views in a mainstream appearance or within mainstream organizations.
Gosar’s views have not gone unnoticed by those who hold antisemitic views either. Recently, the Congressman came under fire for promoting a website known for its antisemitism. The website praised him for going after the “Jewish warmongers” in Ukraine.
Gosar’s promotion of the far-right has also cost his constituents $8,000 in taxable expenses for traveling to events, such as the America First Political Action Conference, Fuentes’ annual conference for his white nationalist followers. Gosar was the first sitting politician to ever speak at the event, and he was warmly embraced by attendees.
Gosar’s office did not respond to a request for comment for this story asking if Searle was responsible for any of the posts mentioned in this story. His communications team has said “no comment,” to TPM.
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