ASU Conservative Group Held Event With Charlottesville Speaker

The August 2017 Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The August 2017 Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Anthony Crider
Tim Gionet, better known as "Baked Alaska,” marched alongside white nationalists during the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. He was there as a speaker.

Gionet has tweeted an infamous neo-Nazi slogan, as well as an image of one of his enemies in a gas chamber. That was, at least, before Twitter banned him for violating its hateful conduct policy.

Gionet recently stopped by Arizona State University for an event with College Republicans United (CRU), a far-right offshoot of the school's College Republicans. The group, which remains eligible to receive school funds, on Tuesday tweeted a photo of Gionet posing with a small gathering of students. (Gionet is standing in the front row, wearing a black shirt and giving a thumbs up.) 
Ashton Blaise Whitty, a right-wing YouTube personality, also attended the gathering. Whitty is standing to the left of Gionet in the photo. In the back row, a student wearing a red dress can be seen giving an "okay" sign, a gesture that has recently risen in prominence among both right-wing trolls and white supremacists.

Matthew Northway, Vice President of College Republicans United at ASU, said in an email to New Times that the group did not invite Gionet. Rather, CRU invited Whitty to give a talk, and she brought Gionet along.

"We do not condone racism or the events that took place at Charlottesville," Northway said. He added that CRU members "have grilled Baked about his views," and Gionet said he has disavowed the alt-right.

By deadline, a spokesperson for ASU did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Gionet's campus visit.

College Republicans United splintered off from ASU's College Republicans chapter in the beginning of 2018, according to The State Press, a student-run news organization. Reflecting a schism in the greater Republican Party, CRU disavows the traditionalist strain of American conservatism associated with figures like John McCain in favor of Trumpian values and rhetoric.

CRU backed Arizona GOP Chairperson Kelli Ward, who previously ran as a far-right candidate for the Senate, in her bid to unseat former chairperson Jonathan Lines, whom the group called a "shellacking establishment incumbent." The group was recently invited to an event with Ward at the home of former Republican State Representative Maria Syms, according to a Facebook post.

CRU's founder, Rick Thomas, has tweeted in support of eugenics and deporting Muslims. When pressed on his offensive tweets by State Press, Thomas claimed they were ironic, mimicking the language of far-right internet culture. The group has flown the "Kekistan" flag, an alt-right symbol modeled off of the Nazi war flag.

When the State Press asked university administrators whether displaying the Kekistan flag could violate the student code of conduct, an official responded:

“ASU recognizes and supports the rights of students to engage in lawful free speech activity including: peaceful demonstrations and circulation of petitions that do not disrupt the normal educational and administrative function of the University, or interfere with the legitimate rights of others."

However, five years ago the university cited the student code of conduct to discipline the school's Tau Kappa Epsilon chapter after the fraternity hosted a Martin Luther King Jr. Day party during which students dressed in stereotypical hip-hop clothing and drank out of watermelon cups.

ASU  permanently revoked Tau Kappa Epsilon's recognition over the incident in 2014. University president Michael Crow stated that the party violated four provisions in the student code of conduct, including a prohibition of "discriminatory activities."
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Steven Hsieh was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times from August 2018 to April 2020.
Contact: Steven Hsieh