By Richard Donnelly
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Meet the US’s new breed of far right activists

Louis Theroux's new documentary is an important watch
Issue 2792
White nationalist Baked Alaska wears a 'USA' t-shirt in the colours of the US flag. Documentary maker Louis Theroux stands behind him

Louis Theroux (left) meets white nationalist Baked Alaska (Picture: BBC)

Twenty years after first investigating US fascism, Louis Theroux is back stateside to peer into the loathsome world of the far right. At first blush not much has changed.

“Antisemitic is a made up term. Jews think they can’t be criticised.” These could easily have been the words of Tom Metzger, the former KKK “grand wizard” in Theroux’s 2003 documentary. Instead they come from “Baked Alaska”, a streamer who is part of a new generation of far right activists.

This generation stands in the same political tradition as Metzger. But its strategy and tactics, and its aesthetic, have been reshaped by the Trump era.

The 2017 “Unite the Right” demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia was a key turning point—a public relations disaster for the far right. Open Nazis took to the streets with swastikas and torch-lit marches with chants of “Jews will not replace us,” exposing the movement’s antisemitism.

Pummelled between public outrage and anti‑fascist mobilisation, the far right retreated into damaging internal debates.

Some argued for open terror. Just a year later, Robert Bowers massacred 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Others argued that, if white nationalism was to go mainstream, it would need to dump the swastikas.

These included Nick Fuentes, a 23 year old YouTube star who is Theroux’s main subject. Fuentes is a blend of social media influencer and traditional antisemite—a white nationalist provocateur for the social media age. His hallmark is advancing racism while offering shelter behind the idea that it is “just a joke”.

As one of Fuentes’ followers says, “I’m not a political guy. I’m just a gamer, a comedian. Making edgy jokes on the internet is punk rock.” Theroux perfectly describes this grim, nihilistic “comedy”—“playing at being racist while actually being racist and then accusing opponents of having no sense of humour.”

This is an important watch for those seeking to ensure that the Nazis don’t have the last laugh.

Louis Theroux’s Forbidden America: Extreme and Online, Sunday 13 February, 9pm and then on BBC IPlayer

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