The chair of the University of Maine’s political science department resigned her position as faculty advisor to the UMaine College Republicans in protest last month after the group invited disgraced far-right commentator Michelle Malkin to speak at the Orono campus. Professor Amy Fried’s decision leaves the student group in limbo, though one of its officers claims they have a new advisor lined up for next semester.
The UMaine College Republicans have taken a side in what’s been described as a “civil war” between pro-Trump factions being waged on campuses nationwide. On one side are organizations like Young America’s Foundation and Turning Point USA that book conservative speakers, like Malkin, to appear at events sponsored by student groups. Opposing them are more openly hateful racists rallying behind Nick Fuentes, a Holocaust denier and neo-segregationist who marched in the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.
In mid-November, Young America’s Foundation cut ties with Malkin, a columnist and former FOX News contributor, after she praised Fuentes and his followers. Fuentes, a podcaster and YouTube personality, has been urging his fans to antagonize speakers at college events in a concerted effort to further inject their racist and anti-Semitic ideas into GOP politics. “There is no room in mainstream conservatism or at YAF for holocaust deniers, white nationalists, street brawlers, or racists,” the speakers bureau declared in a Nov. 17 tweet.
The UMaine College Republicans had a different message for Malkin. “We would love to have you at UMaine!” they wrote in a Nov. 20 Facebook post that tagged her profile. “UMaine CRs will stand up for your right to speak.”
In response to that post, Fried, who also writes about politics for the Bangor Daily News, posted a link to a Nov. 17 Daily Beast article headlined, “Conservative Group Fires Michelle Malkin Over Support for Holocaust Denier.” When the College Republicans failed to respond to their advisor’s post or rescind Malkin’s invite, Fried, who is Jewish, formally resigned as their advisor, effectively revoking their status as an “active” student group entitled to receive support from the university.
“University political groups should try to persuade others with evidence and rational arguments,” Fried wrote in an e-mail to Mainer. America doesn’t need “more inflammatory, discriminatory rhetoric or name-calling,” she said.
Fuentes has argued that violence against ethnic minorities is acceptable if it’s part of ending what he and other racist conspiracy theorists call the “white genocide” underway in America, according to reporting by Right Wing Watch. Fuentes believes black Americans should move to Africa, “Hispanics” to Mexico, and that his “daily existence” is “hurt” by Jews. In a recent video, he equated having sex with a black man to having sex with a dog — “both would be degenerate,” Fuentes said.
Jeremiah Childs, Vice President of the UMaine College Republicans, said his group’s support of Fuentes’ ideology is part of its broader support for President Trump’s nationalist agenda. “Our club supports the President and America First ideals,” said Childs. “Preserving Western Civilization is a big part of our platform. We want a border wall. We want less immigrants overall. We just don’t see the need to take any more poor people.”
The UMaine College Republicans recently posted what Childs called a “research” poll on their Facebook page, which has over 3,500 active followers. (By comparison, the UMaine College Democrats’ page is followed by fewer than 375 people.) “Currently, a debate is raging in conservative circles over the future of our movement,” the poll’s prefaces states. “The major question seems to be should the Republican Party move towards Nationalism/America First or towards Libertarianism with a softer approach towards social issues and immigration.”
The “America First” option has a picture of Fuentes. “Libertarianism” is represented by Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, a young Trump acolyte and Evangelical Christian who’s raised millions to promote the values of “fiscal responsibility, free markets and limited government” in high schools and colleges, according to its mission statement.
Over 5,200 people voted in the Nov. 11 poll, and Fuentes’ vision for America won in a landslide, garnering 82 percent of the vote.
To regain active status as an officially recognized student group, the UMaine Republicans will have to find a new advisor and go through an interview process with the student organization committee.
“We have a name for a new advisor, but it won’t be released until we are fully reinstated,” Childs said. “We don’t want them to be harrassed.”