In last night’s Presidential “debate” moderator Chris Wallace challenged Donald Trump to condemn white supremacy. Trump said he would, but when it came down to it failed to do so. He pushed back with Wallace asking him “Who would you like me to condemn?” Wallace suggested “white supremacists and right wing militia,” Biden added “Proud Boys.”
Instead of condemning the Proud Boys, or any white supremacists, Trump made a call to arms to them. “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump said. If you didn’t see it, you must watch.
So who are the Proud Boys?
The Proud Boys were founded in 2016 by Canadian Gavin McInnes, a far right extremist commentator. It is an all male organization with some wacky beliefs and whose initiation rituals (more on that in a minute) includes taking a pledge to not masturbate.
The group is rather clearly misogynistic. Some quotes from McInnes include things like “95 percent of women would be happier at home” and “I understand [women] are good for domestics, but I don’t understand why there are so many female police officers. They’re not strong, they’re like super fat police officers.” In a tweet about women participating in politics McInnes said, “Who let these bitches vote?.” His Twitter account was later suspended, but the screenshot is forever.
As an organization, Proud Boys explicitly denies that it is racist or supports white supremacy. The organization points to the rather few members, and even a few leaders, who are not white to support this claim. McInnes brandishes his own marriage to a Native American woman even while bemoaning the appearance of mixed race couples in television commercials. He has actually said, “I’ve made mixed-race babies, I’m not against it, clearly! But it just gets annoying when it gets shoved down your face!”
The claim the organization is not racist or white supremacist is a hard one to sustain. The simple truth is that the organization props up almost every white supremacist belief imaginable. McInnes has said, for example, that “to call me a xenophobe is an accurate criticism. I don’t even see it as disputable that any other culture is in the same league as the West — that’s why everyone wants to emigrate here, because we’re simply better.” But McInnes insists, that’s “not racial, it’s cultural.”
The first step in the aforementioned initiation ritual to join the Proud Boys is to swear the following loyalty oath: “I’m a proud Western chauvinist, I refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.” The organization openly supports the white genocide conspiracy theory and great replacement theories that are the foundation for white supremacy groups. McInnes blames immigration for “leading to white genocide in the West” and states that “immigration = white genocide in the West.” McInnes has applied racial slurs to non-whites, calling former United States Ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, a “dindu nuffin” and Jada Pinkett Smith a “monkey actress.”
Some of the most compelling evidence the Proud Boys is racist and white supremacist is where, and with who, they choose to appear. When a former Proud Boys member organized the Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville many Proud Boys joined him, proudly carrying the torches while chanting things like “the Jews will not replace us.” One Proud Boy member at the Charlottesville rally was convicted for a vicious assault on DeAndre Harris, a black man.
One thing that cannot be disputed is the commitment of the Proud Boys to violence. The second phase of the cultish initiation ritual is for members to punch the initiate until he answers certain questions. The final stage is to get involved in a major fight, “for the cause.”
This commitment to violence is specific to political violence against political enemies. The group reenacts famous political assassinations. McInnes proudly declares that, “I want violence, I want punching in the face. I’m disappointed in Trump supporters for not punching enough.” As McInnes puts it, “fighting solves everything.”
It is this commitment to political violence that makes Trump’s call for the Proud Boys to “stand by” particularly alarming. That call comes in the context of Trump refusing to commit to a peaceful transition if he loses, and basically saying that there will only be a peaceful transition if there is no transition (i.e. he wins even if you have to “get rid of the ballots”).
Such comments by the President are not isolated. He has made them repeatedly and doubled down on them. The President is fomenting civil war, and lining up the Proud Boys as recruits in his Army.
The Proud Boys have already happily responded that they are “standing by sir!” When its founder says “fighting solves everything” the word “everything” can certainly include losing an election.