As the Republican Party has moved further and further right, the distance between its right wing and Nazism has grown disconcertingly close. The latest evidence of this evolution can be seen in Blake Masters, the party’s leading candidate for its Senate nomination in Arizona.
Masters, a protégé of Peter Thiel — the Silicon Valley billionaire and quasi libertarian who wrote, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible” — has floated a variety of insane and racist theories. He has straight-up said Donald Trump won the 2020 election and suggested January 6 was a false flag directed secretly by the FBI. He blamed gun violence on Black people. (“We do have a gun-violence problem in this country, and it’s gang violence,” he said. “It’s people in Chicago, St. Louis, shooting each other. Very often, you know, Black people, frankly.”) He has endorsed the “great replacement” theory. And he has echoed far-right positions on foreign policy, opposing American entry into World War II and blaming American entry into World War I on a secret plot directed by the “Houses of Morgan and Rothschild.”
Comments like these attracted the admiration of not only Trump, who endorsed him, but also, predictably, the Nazis. Neo-Nazi blogger Andrew Anglin gave Masters a fulsome endorsement on the white-supremacist site the Daily Stormer.
Here is how Masters responded to the endorsement in a statement to the Phoenix New Times, which reported it:
“I’ve never heard of this guy and I reject his support. The reason I’ve never heard of him is because he’s a nobody, and nobody cares about him except the media,” Masters said in an email to New Times. “They’d like to build him up in order to smear anybody who believes in common sense border security as some kind of ‘Nazi.’ It’s a cheap tactic from Mark Kelly’s media allies and it’s not going to work.”
To be clear about this, Anglin is not just kind of racist, nor is he appealing to racists with Tucker Carlson–like dog whistles. He is an obsessive advocate of eliminationist antisemitism. “This is the Jews for you, people. They are a vicious, evil race of hate-filled psychopaths. When you do something they don’t like, they will use the power of the media to come down on you, assassinate your character,” Anglin wrote in what the New Times called “a 30-article series that advocates genocide of Jewish people.”
You’d think it would be easy for a serious statewide Republican candidate to simply attack a kook like this as evil. Instead, Masters pivoted from a pro forma rejection to blaming the media. Rather than renounce any of Anglin’s beliefs or assert that his positions have nothing in common with them, Masters attacked reporters for smearing “anybody who believes in common sense border security as some kind of ‘Nazi.’”
This is the kind of deflection one employs when your allies put you in an uncomfortable position — these statements are too extreme to be defended outright but too close to be denounced completely, so you change the subject and blame the people who want to make you take a clear stand on them. And Masters occupies an ideological position in the party where he can attract puffy coverage in mainstream conservative organs like National Review and also get rave reviews from people who wish to exterminate the Jews.
Masters is not a Nazi. But Nazis see him as a vehicle to advance their agenda and bring them closer to political respectability. And they are obviously correct to do so.