Dalton Clodfelter was barely old enough to drive when an angry white mob descended on Charlottesville, Virginia at Unite the Right in 2017, parading across the University of Virginia’s grounds with lit tiki torches. The event left three people dead, others beaten, and led to nearly a dozen arrests. It also launched the career of one of the most infamous Zoomer white nationalists, Nick Fuentes.
Now, at 22, Clodfelter, who is part of Fuentes’ Groyper army and considers the avowed racist and antisemite a close friend and mentor, is bringing the same unabashed hate and racism to college campuses, a barnstorming of bigotry rolling through universities in American South.
While their cohorts overshare on TikTok and skew heavily liberal, Fuentes and Clodfelter are taking a radically different path. They’re the first wave of far-right Gen Z influencers. Their calls for a white supremacist, antisemitic, authoritarian society are reaching a large and growing audience that mostly consists of young men and boys.
These are 20-somethings who spent a significant amount of their formative years with Donald Trump as president. They grew up influenced by descriptions of Haiti and African nations as “shithole” countries, bans on Muslims entering the country, and white nationalists proudly marching around the country and storming the Capitol.
They came of age as a nascent white supremacist movement grew across the nation. Now, they’re its bleeding edge, creating an army of racist digital trolls who’ve grown fluent in merging the language of hate with the online realm.
As backlash against him grows, Clodfelter’s own audience is simultaneously increasing.
Since he joined Fuentes’ network, Cozy TV, a little over a year ago, Clodfelter gained a dedicated and growing following. His subscribers there have doubled in the last year. In the month since it launched, his “Ye is Right” channel on right-wing YouTube alternative Rumble racked up over 40,000 views. Last September, he boasted that another of his shows on Rumble had 132,000 views.
Clodfelter’s stunts and association with Fuentes have enabled him to make connections with some of the most notorious people in the extremist ecosystem. He’s parlayed these connections into credibility and audience, climbing the far-right ladder of influence.
He considers Capitol rioter Tim Gionet aka Baked Alaska a pal and rubs elbows with Islamophobe Laura Loomer, white supremacist Jared Taylor of American Renaissance, and political dirty trickster Roger Stone, whom Clodfelter interviewed.
For nearly a year, he broadcasted on far-right conspiracy theorist Stew Peters’ network, although he said he’s no longer hosted there, a disagreement over mentioning Fuentes too much.
White nationalism has been spilling out into the open more and more in recent years. Antisemitic incidents and attitudes are on the rise. Multiple states, such as Florida, where Clodfelter now lives, have passed legislation taken from the fascist playbook, banning books and curtailing personal freedoms.
Gen Z is generally liberal, but there is a strong vein of racism and hate coursing through a burgeoning subset of it. People like Clodfelter and Fuentes have tapped into that and are feeding on the white grievance that fuels it. They view themselves as a new counterculture movement, one that fights against the perceived progressive tilt in American politics.
Like Fuentes, Clodfelter wants to drag the Republican Party to the extreme far-right. Clodfelter openly advocates for an authoritarian government. He said it was “evil” to give women the right to vote, that they’re “dumber” than men and have no place outside the home. He wants to take LGBTQ people’s rights away completely. “Make sodomy and homosexual relations and being trans illegal,” he said.
Clodfelter’s latest schtick is barnstorming college campuses for events he calls: “Ye is right, change my mind.”
During these Stephen Crowder ripoffs, Clodfelter and his co-host Tyler Russell set up a table and invite people to argue with them. (Two years ago, the Canadian Anti-Hate Network described Russell, who is Canadian, as a white supremacist copy of Fuentes.)
Much of the subject matter the pair challenge people to debate consists of Holocaust denial and antisemitism similar to recent comments made by Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West.
The outright antisemitism aligns with another strain of Clodfelter’s politics, a call for a fascist takeover of America.
Although free speech allows him to say and advocate these views on college campuses, he simultaneously wants to restrict the right to speak freely. “Once we take power I see no problem with silencing our opposition,” Clodfelter said, an openly fascist position with notes of neo-Nazism.
“Once we take control, we will identify our enemies and we will stomp them into the dirt. They will not be able to return to power,” he said last summer, per Right Wing Watch. “We will rip them from their offices. We will rip them from their homes for being degenerate liars, degenerate, treasonous domestic terrorists, because that is what they are.”
“They will be arrested and they will be sentenced to prison. I believe in a far-right authoritarian government,” he said before denying that he’s a Nazi.
But in setting up a table at a university with a large banner that says “Ye is right”—the same phrase that anitsemities and white supremacists around the country have invoked in recent months—he’s provoking and trolling, hoping for a response.
The charged atmosphere leads to emotionally fraught exchanges that Clodfelter uses for exposure and content. (He claims that they also find many people who agree with their positions.) In January, Clodfelter wrote with apparent amusement about making a Jewish girl cry at one of these events and posted a video of her confronting him then storming away, wiping her eyes.
Clodfelter’s growing contingent of young fans loves it. Hundreds of his Telegram subscribers reacted with laughing emojis.
“First time commenting here but dude you are awesome for this just earned a Telegram subscriber,” one person commented.
A TikTok of the girl has 160,000 views and over 150 comments—all positive, and nearly all from men and boys.
Clodfelter plans to continue hosting these events at colleges all around the country. He says they’re invited to each school they visit, but won’t say by who. A photo from his trip to the University of Florida (UF) shows him, co-host Russell, and the president of the campus chapter of Turning Point USA. The chapter didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment.
In the days before he showed up at the University of Alabama and UF, antisemitic messages appeared around campus, indicating that someone was aware they were coming. Some of the messages included the date they would arrive.
A few months ago, Soledad O’Brien called him “straight up racist” for saying on his show that Make America Great Again appeals to him because, “I love what this country once was, before the Civil Rights Movement.”
Clodfelter revels in the negative attention, as do his fans. “Based,” one recently wrote about coverage of his antics. “Keep up the good work bud look how much attention it’s grabbing! It’s working,” another said.
On Feb. 13, he posted a checklist of organizations and outlets that have written about him captioned, “My ops.”
In late January, he claimed that #YeisRight has 1 million impressions on TikTok. One TikTok of him quizzing a student about how many Jewish people died in the Holocaust (6 million in four years) as compared to the Transatlantic slave trade (15 million in four centuries) has over 200,000 views. Clodfelter claims it to be suspicious people don’t intimately know the latter number.
Clodfelter’s message is resonating with a segment of Gen Z who seem to be primarily white males who grew up in an era where outright trolling, treated as trenchant political thought, came of age with racism from the presidential bully pulpit.
This posture is a shift from a kid who wanted to be famous by posting Michael Jackson dances to YouTube and performing in talent shows in his early teens.
But Clodfelter was always out for an audience.
Some people who’ve known him for years, but largely lost track of him after high school, aren’t clear if it’s real or a LARP. More than one said that either way he’s gone so far down this path that there’s no coming back.
Clodfelter initially agreed to an interview with the Daily Dot, but said he would only do so if the interview was published in its entirety without any editing. He also asked to be referred to as a Christian nationalist, rather than the “lame buzzwords,” which he did not provide.
Clodfelter has longed for fame since at least middle school. Back then, he was known as the Michael Jackson kid. He also went through a stint as a rapper with the stage name “Doctor C.”
Clodfelter grew up in Asheboro, a small town in central North Carolina. Even as a child, friends told the Daily Dot, he stood out. Classmates describe him as someone who went through several phases in his teens: Jackson impersonator, Joker impersonator, white rapper, and theater kid.
“He even went as far as growing his hair out and bleaching it completely and coloring it green,” said a former classmate of Clodfelter’s Joker phase. (No one the Daily Dot contacted who knew Clodfelter from Asheboro was willing to have their name associated with him—not even people who continue to communicate with him.)
Then along came Trump.
During the 2016 election cycle, the year he turned 16, Clodfelter went all-in on MAGA, according to friends. He wore suit jackets and carried a briefcase to school. Friends said he became obsessed with politics and started a blog called Right Wing World.
People he went to school with now see this period as a harbinger of what he would become. One said, “He did kind of develop this reputation [as] the kind of a person who liked to stir the pot and cause issues.”
The former classmate who recalled his Joker phase said that Clodfelter once got into a fight in high school for saying “something racist.”
Still, some were shocked to find out that he’s become the kind of extremist who recently joked on one of his shows about taking a nerf gun to the Pulse nightclub “for a little symbolism,” advocates outlawing being gay or transgender, casually throws around the N-word, wears black face, and spews racist, misogynistic, and antisemitic views.
“I knew it was the direction. I didn’t know it would go this far,” another former classmate told the Daily Dot recently, adding, “He’s always wanted that fame. This is just his way of doing that.”
Sometime around the end of high school, Clodfelter started working at a local radio station. Photos from the station’s Facebook page in 2019 show Clodfelter beaming alongside a multiracial group of colleagues.
Then, to the surprise of some who knew him in school, Clodfelter joined the Army. Much like his bright-green Joker hair, however, his military career wouldn’t last, a common theme throughout his life.
Clodfelter appears to have attempted a number of avenues before settling on far-right influencer. Last August, he claimed that he attended college, pledged a fraternity, hosted two radio shows, joined the Proud Boys, held a local political position, and danced on America’s Got Talent, all in just the last five years.
Also that month, Clodfelter announced that the Army discharged him for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
He’d started streaming on Fuentes’ platform while he was in the Army. Clodfelter leaned into the movement, becoming a groyper, the term Fuentes’ fans use to refer to themselves. Clodfelter’s show was even called “Goodnight Groyper.”
Guests on the show include a litany of far-right figures, such as Fuentes, Peters, Lauren Witzke, Wayne DuPree, and many others.
Last March, Clodfelter posted a link to a website called “Groyper Army,” that has the tagline, “This is the unit for Dalton and groypers.”
Asked how he landed on this path, Clodfelter told the Daily Dot via Instagram message, “I’m a normal dude just hanging out.”
After he left the military, Clodfelter relocated to Florida to become a full-time streamer. He credits Fuentes with opening the doors that enabled him to pursue this dream.
“Nick was a blessing and he gave me options,” he wrote on Telegram.
Today Clodfelter has a few sponsors and thousands of subscribers across multiple platforms that have collectively earned him hundreds of thousands of impressions.
On campus, as on his shows and social media platforms that will still have him (he told the Daily Dot he’s been “deplatformed multiple times”), Clodfelter is hoping to inspire the next generation of bigoted fascists.
Like the kid who impersonated Michael Jackson, he gives that effort his all with a wink and smile. He laughs when people yell at him and remains calm when they get upset. If you didn’t know what he was saying at his Ye is Right events, from a distance, you’d assume he wasn’t spouting outright fascism.
Like other white nationalist Zoomers, it’s all caked in a level of irony, often presented as if he’s doing it all for the lols, like the living embodiment of shitposting.
Clodfelter’s big grin and casual tone buffet his calls for homosexuals to be “ostracized by society” and opinion that Nazi book burnings were a good thing.
Like Fuentes, Clodfelter’s doing everything he can to lure the next generation of far-right extremists down that path with him, including by personally extending a helping hand to another wannabe influencer.
On Monday, Clodfelter wrote that he now has an apprentice.
And as Fuentes helped establish Clodfelter, adding more front-facing, TikTok-savvy people to this movement—that for so long has lurked along the fringes—means it will only continue to grow.