In late June, the conservative outlet Breitbart published the private chats of Pedro Gonzalez, a right-wing influencer and writer. The chats contained antisemitic memes, jokes, and rhetoric, and appeared to have been leaked in response to Gonzalez switching his support from former President Donald Trump to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.)
In response, New York Young Republican Club President Gavin Wax tweeted, “If a Trump supporter said even a fraction of what Pedro said they would be roundly condemned.”
From 2014 to 2017, Wax, a prominent Trump supporter, oversaw a private Facebook group chat of writers who contributed to his online magazine, Liberty Conservative.
Liberty Conservative (LC) started as a libertarian blog, but Wax quickly moved it rightward, as prominent members of the white nationalist group Identity Evropa joined, including James Allsup. Liberty Conservative published pieces giving advice to future spree shooters, and comparing male taxpayers to rape survivors.
A leaked archive of the chat shows participants included Shane Trejo, Michigan’s 11th District Republican Committee chairman, and Eduardo Rivero, a conservative writer who was previously the executive editor at Liberty Conservative.
While the Facebook chat was primarily for contributors to talk about their writing and the mechanics of Liberty Conservative, it also served as a place to discuss current events, debate each other, and gossip.
As de facto moderator, Wax was one of the most active participants; controlling the group chat was ostensibly in line with his responsibilities as Editor in Chief of Liberty Conservative.
When conversations would get too raunchy or too extreme, Wax would often remind contributors the chat was meant to be “family friendly” and encourage them to move to another chat. Sometimes he would request they move to private discussion; other times he would say they needed to take to “edgy chat.”
Occasionally, writers would preemptively apologize to Wax before he could admonish them.
In November 2016, Richard Spencer led a “Heil Trump” salute at the National Policy Institute’s conference, an event that would come to be known as HeilGate. After the news broke, one contributor wrote in the chat, “this is why I can’t support the alt-right movement. Neo-Nazis and white supremacists.”
“i think they’ll do just fine without ya,” Trejo jumped in.
“Please don’t tell me…Are you a racist? Neo-Nazi? Alt-right member? I pray not,” the contributor asked Trejo.
“Its none of your fuckin business what I am or am not,” Trejo replied.
“No I’d say that’s pretty much all of our business if our names are on a site with you,” another contributor chimed in.
Trejo responded that “my future writings for LC will clarify my thoughts on the alt right.”
Wax simply replied, “take this outside the chat guys.”
Instead, Trejo wrote, “someone tell the child to take his whining somewhere else.”
“The founder of the alt-right movement is saluting ADOLF HITLER!” the contributor replied. “There’s no room for confusion. Give me a break Shane.”
“This isn’t the SPLC contributors chat,” Trejo responded, referring to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that tracks extremism. “And I will leave it at that.”
Several weeks after this discussion, Trejo published an article that helped clarify his thoughts on the alt-right, saying it should be embraced.
The alt-right is the loose collection of Republican-leaning white nationalists who coalesced around former President Donald Trump in the run-up to the 2016 election.
In “Libertarians And The Alt-Right: Brothers In Arms Toward Leftist Destruction,” Trejo argued that “the alt-right has emerged as a safe haven for libertarians.” Trejo encouraged Libertarians to embrace Pepe, the cartoon frog that became a meme mascot of the alt-right. Pepe doesn’t “care if you offended SJWs, in fact, he happily lends himself to it whenever possible. Did you even go overboard and deploy a few extra parentheses in the midst of your frustration? Pepe didn’t care. He never judged you.”
“Triple parentheses” was a reference to the far-right practice of surrounding the names of Jewish people with three sets of parentheses, a meme that originated on the Daily Shoah, a neo-Nazi podcast. The hosts would play an echo sound effect whenever they would say Jewish names; the parentheses were the written version of their “joke” (shoah is the Hebrew word for the Holocaust).
On Spencer’s HeilGate, Trejo stated that “members of the alt-right shouldn’t publicly deride these fringe figures” and encouraged people to “gravitate toward controversial figures” who “expose the left with clever antics while not openly harboring any sort of racial agenda.”
On Christmas Eve 2016, one contributor joked, “as our alt right masters teacheth us, Santa’s gift for the Jews is a warm bed in a Zyklon gas oven,” referring to Zyklon B, the gas used by Nazis to murder prisoners in concentration camps.
He was not admonished by anyone, though Rivero replied “Hahahha that is so wrong but I had to laugh.”
Two months later, that same contributor responded to libertarian criticism that Liberty Conservative had developed a reputation for being sympathetic to Spencer, Nazis, and white nationalism by suggesting they “heat up the ovens.”
Just as before, Wax ignored the comment. After a few minutes, he assured the group, “We wont apologize for being free speech absolutists.”
Rivero replied by condemning the entire Libertarian movement for being “as triggered, low IQ and in favor of social justice and open borders as those in the progressive movement.” He said that “Accusing LC of being Nazis or white nationalist” was acting like a former Liberty Conservative staffer, he said, who had publicly spoken out against the publication’s embrace of white nationalism.
“Wonder if it has to do with people saying things like ‘fire up the ovens’ in response to controversy,” another shot back.
Finally, Wax wrote, “yeah that was too far.”
“I found it funny, but then again I’m not offended by almost any joke, no matter how dark,” Rivero informed the group.
When reached for comment, Rivero said “If LC as a publication ever had supported Spencer or associated with him directly, I was not aware of that and wouldn’t have supported that. For the record, my view is Spencer is a POS.”
At the time of the discussion, Rivero wrote in the group chat, “Personally, I’d rather be associated with Spencer than with SFL/YAL [Students for Liberty/Young Americans for Liberty] and the rest of the garbage that passes as libertarian these days.”
“Knowing me, that’s probably just a ‘fuck you libertarians’ type comment,” Rivero explained recently. “Like if they want to screech and paint us as Nazis, they’re idiots.”
Shortly after Wax announced he had convinced libertarian blogger and YouTuber Julie Borowski to contribute to Liberty Conservative, the conversation took an unexpected turn.
“Why do people freak out so much at the word n****r, especially when quoting someone?” asked Rivero. “I swear it’s more acceptable to say ‘fucking f****t’ on air than to quote someone saying n****r.”
“thankyouuuu eduardo. Now back to the weather,” Wax replied.
“It’s ridiculous. It’s just a word, stop giving it power over our emotions. I swear if people just started using it it would lose all shock power like f*g did.” Rivero followed up with, “Sorry Gavin. But it’s the truth.”
Wax sent a heart emoji to the chat, and Allsup agreed with Rivero. “hey good point eduardo. you fucking n****r f****t.”
“Thanks, James!” Rivero quipped.
“I’m so glad Julie wasn’t here for that,” one contributor said.
“Oh there is no way we are adding Julie to this chat with you degenerates,” another agreed. “Someone said n****r 5 messages up ffs.”
Wax replied, “ahaha. yeah she wont come anywhere clsoe [sic] to here. we can have a fake ‘contributors chat’ with… any practicing christian.”
When reached for comment, Rivero said, “I think you see what the point I was making. Take away the power of words like that to hurt people. Not normalize their usage, but take away the emotional power of slurs. I wouldn’t hold that position today, but I guess naive early 20s me did think that.”
Wax, Trejo, and Allsup did not respond to Daily Dot inquiries.
Over the years, there were multiple discussions of race realism.
One occurred in September 2016, two months after Allsup was added to the chat. “James, race realism is bigotry that tries to make itself intellectually legitimate,” one contributor stated.
A now-suspended account, presumably Allsup’s, who was booted from Facebook in 2019, responded, “denying there are differences between the races is unscientific and unfactual.”
“Exactly. ‘Race realism’ is nothing more than racist KKK hicks who decided to take a bath, brush their teeth, cut their hair, shave their beard, and go to college,” another writer agreed.
The suspended account replied again. “I’m sorry, but radical egalitarianism is a lie.”
“As a Christian, egalitarianism is the foundation of my faith. It is the very reason Christianity is a religion at all,” the other writer pushed back.
In March 2017, the group discussed former Republican Rep. Steve King’s back-to-back controversial remarks on race. King tweeted “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” Days later, he followed up by suggesting that “Hispanics and the blacks will be fighting each other before” outnumbering the white population in the U.S.
“Can we just be done with the race-baiting? Good grief…he’s becoming a walking Democrat headline,” vented one frustrated contributor.
“We need more of him, he tells the truth. It isn’t just race baiting,” one replied.
“It is absolutely race baiting. And it’s pointless. There are a ton of Mexican Catholic immigrants who are much more conservative than millions of white millennial Bernie voters.”
“Yeah boohoo, we all know what he means and you know good and well he isn’t referring to the well behaved christian ones. A bunch of thugs coming here to ‘do the jobs no one else will do’ isn’t going to save our civilization,” the opposing contributor retorted. “Everyone is capable, that doesn’t mean they will. The problem with the dumbass white people we have is we’ve allowed Marxists to control our education.”
The two argued whether race and politics were tied before the supporter of King made his position clear. “There is literally nothing wrong with wanting to keep your race in its own country as the majority.”
“Oh good, another [Richard] Spencer acolyte in TLC,” the first contributor sarcastically replied.
As Liberty Conservative moved further to the right, contributors who did not agree with platforming far-right opinions began to distance themselves. Weeks before the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia (an event the outlet would later defend), active contributors began kicking people out of the group.
“I’m deporting non-contributors,” one joked.
“Hes building a big beautiful wall around contributors chat,” another said.
In June 2017, a now-suspended Facebook account welcomed a newcomer to the group chat by saying “You will have to work at being the most offensive contributor on this staff. It’s a pretty stiff competition between me, Shane, Eduardo and Allsup typically.”
Now, Liberty Conservative members are an essential part of the Trump 2024 ground game.
Trejo works as the Grassroots Director for Republicans for National Renewal, a right-wing populist group that advocates for the reelection of former President Donald Trump. In January 2021, Republicans for National Renewal announced that Wax was their new national spokesman. Wax continues to be in charge of the New York Young Republicans Club.
Last week, Wax and Trejo participated in a virtual panel with a member of Germany’s far-right Alternative für Deutschland party.
But some have tried to leave the offensive comments in the past.
“I think it’s unfair to lump a few of us in with actions and/or views of people that briefly were associated with LC almost a decade ago. Or to be dredging up (out of context) posts from a private group chat from 2016,” Rivero said. “I’d rather you keep me out of all of this.”