Jon Jafari is a popular YouTube gamer and comedian better known as JonTron. He’s the founder of Normalboots—a network of channels including Did You Know Gaming and Peanutbuttergamer—and was the original cohost of the “Let’s Play” channel Game Grumps. Between those projects, Jafari wields influence over an estimated 12 million subscribers, not counting minor cameos and crossovers elsewhere within the YouTube community.
More recently, Jafari has claimed that Mexican immigrants are setting up “ethnic enclaves” in the US “to break parts of America off back into Mexico.”
Jafari began his descent into madness on Sunday, when he tweeted a defense of Iowa Representative Steve King’s controversial claim that “[we] can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies,” a remark that has since been condemned by just about everyone except for white nationalist and possible fish-human David Duke. From there, Jafari’s tweets led him to agree to defend his positions during a conversation with professional streamer Steve Bonnell, better known as Destiny, on Twitch. Yes, yes, we’re getting to the interesting stuff shortly.
Over the course of two hours, Jafari’s comments on the stream ranged from baseless to deeply inflammatory. In addition to his ludicrous claim about Mexicans attempting to somehow recapture American land, he said that “we don’t need immigrants from incompatible places” and that white people were going through a “demographic displacement” due to immigration, which he likened to apartheid South Africa. Truly the mind reels. But wait, there’s more.
Jafari also claimed that wealthy black Americans commit more crimes than poor whites (citation badly needed), the court system doesn’t display bias against people of color (it does), that Irish and Italians were always considered “white” in America (they weren’t), and that Black Lives Matter doesn’t disavow violence (it does). “We’ve gotten rid of discrimination in our Western countries,” said Jafari, only to later state that “nobody wants to become a minority in their own country.”
The source of Jafari’s anxiety seems to be the looming possibility that whites will become a minority in the United States, which he projects will happen by 2042. And despite Bonnell asking repeatedly why that matters, Jafari instead stumbled through far right talking points vilifying immigrants as lazy criminals and demanding the need for America to have a unifying culture (though he was unable to express why that would demand a white majority). “White interests” and “tribalism” were something he harped on repeatedly but was unable to quantify or defend the importance of. Bonnell pointed out that Jafari is half Iranian and half Hungarian himself. Jafari appeared open to the idea of immigration, conceding that “if they assimilated they would enter the gene pool eventually.” One imagines Mengele would be proud.
Jafari was quick to jump on Bonnell the way many in the far right do when criticized: by claiming that someone is trying to police their thoughts. Jafari is free to think whatever he wants, and we’re free to think less of him for it.
“I thought he would walk back some of the more extreme things he said, but it seems like he was pushing for something more insidious than what I’d originally expected,” Bonnell told Gizmodo via Twitter. “ie: his ‘gene pool’ comment, his laughing about why black youth committed crime, his comparisons between black people in the US vs Africa.”
We reached out to Jafari and Jafari’s associated channels for comment. We’ll update if we hear back.
Update 3/14/17 12:04pm EDT: Daniel Brown, one of the people involved with Did You Know Gaming, reached out to Gizmodo via Twitter to offer a lengthy statement after backlash towards Jafari spilled over towards him.
“Normal Boots is a collection of a bunch of channels, including Jon. He doesn’t own them,” though Brown noted that Jafari sometimes did voiceover work and benefitted through cross-promotions. He wrote, “I personally don’t see any reason anybody working on DidYouKnowGaming should be involved in this.”