Who Are the ‘Proud Boys’ Trump Told to ‘Stand By’? (Video)

Two days after the first presidential debate against Democratic rival Joe Biden, at which Donald Trump refused to condemn white supremacist groups, even instructing the white supremacist group “The Proud Boys” to “stand back and stand by,” Trump finally capitulated to pressure Thursday in an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity, stating:

“I condemn the KKK. I condemn all white supremacists. I condemn the Proud Boys. I don’t know much about the Proud Boys, almost nothing, but I condemn that.”

But he has condemned white supremacy before, albeit tepidly.

So why do white supremacists still hold Trump up as an exemplar for their racist propaganda?

We’ve all heard the cliche, “Talk is cheap.”

While it may be true all politicians lie, and Trump is certainly not the first president to peddle prevarication, Donald Trump has lied more than 20,000 times, even about insignificant matters, like where his father was born.

Even though Joe Biden and debate moderator Chris Wallace pressed the president to say the words “I condemn, I disavow…,” it’s Trump’s policies and rhetoric that appeal to white supremacist groups.

Marc Lamont Hill, Temple University professor of media studies and urban education, recently said in an interview on Democracy Now!:

“After the last three years, three-and-a-half years, we shouldn’t be underestimating it. The evidence is there, whether it’s public policy, whether it’s the president’s statements, whether it’s his commitment to making these ‘both sides’ arguments when it comes to white supremacy, when it comes to the debates…When he says, ‘Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,’ these were prepared remarks. This wasn’t Trump on the cuff. This is was actually one of the things that he was prepared to say. He went into the debate understanding that that kind of rhetoric and that kind of wink does an extraordinary amount of political work for his base. Trump is not trying to widen his base. He’s trying to create the chaos that you just mentioned. He wants chaos in the streets, he wants violence in the streets, he wants chaos at the polls, because he wants Americans to feel a sense of unsafety. It’s its own kind of diplomatic terrorism.”

All in the interview was former neo-Nazi Christian Picciolini, leader of the global extremism prevention and disengagement network Free Radicals Project, author of Breaking Hate: Confronting the New Culture of Extremism, who stated:

“I think what was even more disturbing, or equally disturbing, was the fact that he [Trump] called for vigilantism at the polls, that he asked for poll watchers to keep an eye on people who were voting. And that, to me, again, was also a call for white supremacist and militia members and ‘boogaloo’ boys and anybody else who falls under this white supremacist umbrella to really start to act out what they’ve been talking about and to be violent against the left and to intimidate them to not show up and vote, which is exactly what we need to do, is we need to show up and vote, unless this is the kind of America and this is the kind of president you want.”

Who are these “Proud Boys?”

What do they believe?

The brainchild of Canadian-British far-right activist and Vice magazine co-founder Gavin McInnes, the Proud Boys is a neo-fascist fraternal group disseminating an “anti-political correctness” and “anti-white guilt” agenda, formed in 2016, just as Donald Trump was inching closer to the presidency.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) categorizes it as a hate group.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) describes it as misogynistic, Islamophobic, transphobic and anti-immigration.

Members must take the following oath:

“I am a proud western chauvinist, I refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.”

The group pushes back against the “racist” label, opting instead to insist it just wants to return to traditional “western values.”

Included in those “values” is the conspiracy theory known as “white genocide” that contends the Caucasian race is “dying” due to increasing non-white populations and “forced assimilation” as part of a Jewish conspiracy to eradicate the white race.

Members are pro-gun, anti-feminism and gender equality, and stand with Libertarians on “big government” programs, like welfare.

According to The Guardian:

“The Proud Boys have a history of street violence against leftwing activists and protest movements. In recent months they have repeatedly turned up to oppose Black Lives Matter marches or any demonstrations where they sense an opportunity to counter, often with violence, far-left activists loosely characterized by their adherence to anti-fascist ideology and known collectively by the short-form term antifa. Last year, two members were jailed for four years for beating up anti-fascist activists in New York.”

Members are easy to identify with “Make America Great Again” and black Fred Perry polo shirts brandishing narrow yellow stripes and the Fred Perry company’s yellow laurel wreath logo.

Image credit: kkoh.com

Because of this appropriation, Fred Perry recently withdrew the design.

After Trump’s explicit shout-out on Thursday, Proud Boys took to social media and right-wing discussion-boards like Telegram and Parler to express their gratitude and enthusiasm with statements like “Standing down and standing by, sir.”

Lest we forget–

Donald Trump demanded four female House members of color to “go back” to the “crime infested places” from which they came.

He called South American countries “shitholes.”

He accused three to five million “illegals” of voter fraud.

He floated ending birthright citizenship via executive order.

He praised pro-Confederate protesters in Charlottesville, Va. as well as those intending to force governors to lift orders designed to stop the coronavirus spread while calling BLM protesters “thugs.”

He calls COVID-19 (which he has contracted) a “Chinese virus.”

He still thinks he’s building a wall to prevent Mexican and South American immigrant entry.

Trump and surrogates have regularly been exposed for their more obvious dog whistles.

Last month, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) was ordered to identify and cut funding for “critical race theory,” or federal worker diversity trainings intended to expose and prevent bigotry and systemic bias within government institutions and agencies.

Also last month, Trump delivered a speech at the National Archives at which he announced the formation of the “1776 Commission” intended to discredit The New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning “1619 Project” dedicated to chronicling the country’s history beginning the year Europeans shipped the first enslaved Africans to American shores.

Trump proclaimed:

 “Leftwing rioting and mayhem are the direct result of decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools. [T]he crusade against American history is toxic propaganda [that] will destroy our country…Our mission is to defend the legacy of America’s founding, the virtue of America’s heroes, and the nobility of the American character. We must clear away the twisted web of lies in our schools and classrooms, and teach our children the magnificent truth about our country. We want our sons and daughters to know that they are the citizens of the most exceptional nation in the history of the world.” 

This is his strategy to divide us.

No matter how many times Trump may “denounce” “Proud Boys” and the “boogaloos” when his back is to the wall, his policies and dog-whistles continue.

Unless those change, the overwhelming right-wing militia attacks against peaceful protests will not only continue, but increase.

Why else would Trump have called for supporters to “go in” and “watch very carefully” while America votes?

Image credit: vridar.org

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, and Medium.