Nicholas Fuentes, host of “America First” who has said he could be accurately described as a white nationalist, as he is both “white” and a “nationalist,” will likely be coming to Iowa State Wednesday.
Fuentes said in a YouTube video Monday, “Infiltrating CPAC 2019,” that he will be giving a campus speech in Iowa Wednesday. In the video, he described the event as “hush hush” as to “evade some controversy, evade the press a little bit.” He said he will be speaking on immigration and the Republican party.
“My first ever campus speech ... will be taking place this Wednesday in Iowa, and there will be more details to come on that,” Fuentes said. “I don’t want to give away too much; I don’t want to tell you exact details of what campus it is on, what time and all that.”
While Fuentes did not say the location of the event in his YouTube video, a source present at a College Republicans meeting Feb. 27 told the Iowa State Daily that student Ryan Hurley was claiming to represent Turning Point and promoted Fuentes’ visit to campus at the meeting.
President of the Iowa State chapter of Turning Point, an unofficial student organization, Sara Petersen denies any involvement of Turning Point with this event.
Fuentes attended the “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which right-wing terrorist James Alex Fields Jr., 20, drove a car into a crowd of counter-protestors, killing Heather Heyer, 32. The rally was the largest gathering of white supremacist groups in decades.
Fuentes also appeared on a livestream with neo-Nazi Richard Spencer on May 2, 2018. Fuentes can be heard agreeing with Spencer on the idea of white “identitarianism,” and referencing attending a white supremacist symposium and discussions about biological differences between races.
College Republican president Jacob Minock and Hurley have separately denied affiliations with the Fuentes event. Minock said the event is a Turning Point event orchestrated by Hurley. Petersen and Hurley both deny this.
In an interview with the Daily Saturday, Hurley said he didn’t know about the event and that “Turning Point is not hosting anyone.”
“I want to specify that we aren’t hosting this. We do not endorse white nationalism, nor do we support it. Though we were invited alongside College Republicans, we cannot even host our own meetings, much less guest speakers who are not even on our list,” Hurley said in a text message to the Daily Tuesday night.
Yet, in text messages obtained by the Daily last week, Hurley directly referenced Fuentes’ visit and said “it’s not sponsored by us but it’s hosted by us.”
Tuesday night, Hurley told the Daily he and other members of Turning Point intend to attend the event out of “curiosity.”
“All we want is a peaceful campus,” Hurley said. “It seems to me that both college Dems and journalists such as yourself are attempting to politicize and frame us as something we are not.”
He also disaffiliated from College Republicans in his Saturday interview with the Daily, noting he finds himself a “different brand of conservative.”
In an email sent to College Republicans Monday, Minock brought attention to an event hosted by Turning Point, specifically referencing Hurley.
“I have been informed that Turning Point USA (another conservative political group) is bringing in a speaker,” Minock said in the email. “If you are interested, I can put you in contact with their campus coordinator (Ryan Hurley) who can answer all your questions about that event.”
Minock said that while the two organizations share similarities, he will not personally be in attendance at the Fuentes event as he will not be in town.
“In the past, of course, Turning Point has invited College Republicans to events as we have invited Turning Point to events,” Minock said Tuesday. “Due to that overlap … if people do want just another outlet to go to, I can’t stop them by any means.”
Turning Point, a national organization that identifies as non-partisan, is not a registered student organization at Iowa State. Therefore, it cannot reserve a room or host an event on Iowa State’s campus without proper event authorization or room reservation.
“I don’t know how would you even, like, invite someone if you can’t book a room right now,” Hurley said.
Turning Point previously existed on Iowa State’s campus but disbanded in August 2018.
Petersen, president of the new, non-registered chapter of Turning Point, said she was unaware of the event and that Turning Point would “not go forth and bring someone to campus that would cause an unsafe environment or discomfort on campus.”
According to the Turning Point USA Speakers Bureau website, Fuentes is not listed as an authorized speaker.
“As a part of Iowa State University, as a part of the student body, we truly care about the safety of everyone on campus,” Petersen said.
Ben Whittington, president of Turning Point before it officially disbanded, said people like Fuentes are dangerous.
“I don’t like people like him,” Whittington said. “They dress it up with fancy words and pretend like they actually know something about the history of this country when they really don’t. It’s actually pretty disgusting.”
Fuentes had attempted to speak at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in September 2018 on the topic, “Is Immigration Killing America?” He had been invited by the campus student group, Young Americans for Liberty.
After learning of the event, however, the national Young Americans for Liberty, YAL, organization pulled Rose-Hulman’s chapter affiliation, the Tribune Star reported.
“Specific to our chapter operations: YAL abhors any racism and will not associate with any speaker who believes that individuals receive their rights based on color of their skin. Our beliefs are simple: liberty for ALL Americans,” according to a statement provided by the national chapter.
Taylor Blair, president of College Democrats, said he believes Iowa State should investigate this situation and take action and that there are “no shades of gray here.”
“I think that this is exactly what Turning Point does,” Blair said. “They purposefully bring people on campus just to create controversy so they can play victim when their dangerous rhetoric is blocked.”
On Fuentes, who confirmed in a second video Tuesday that he will be speaking in Iowa Wednesday, Blair said he is an avowed white supremacist who claims “multiculturalism is a cancer.”
“He isn’t coming here to talk about healthcare or political corruptness, he is here to talk about white supremacy, and white supremacy murders people,” Blair said. “It leads to people’s deaths.”
Reporting contributed by Emily Berch, K. Rambo, Devyn Leeson and Alex Connor.