|"Proud Boys" in a brawl screaming homophobic slurs.|
The latest disingenuous meme - lie might be the better description - being disseminated by Republicans, including Der Trumpenführer, is that Democrats are a violence prone "angry mob." The only flimsy support for this lie is a few, rare actions by Antifa anarchists, a group that despises Democrats as much as Republicans. In contrast, the GOP has a vast array of far right groups supporting its racist, homophobic agenda that range from the KKK to right wing militias and neo-Nazi groups (think Charlottesville and the right wing groups on display). Sadly some of the media - and some "friends" who seemingly only get their news from Fox News, a/k/a Faux News, and Brietbart - are promoting the dishonest meme. Instead, they should be focusing on right wing organizations that law enforcement recognizes as a real threat to law and order and the safety of citizens. A piece in The Daily Beast at one such group, Proud Boys, a certified hate group, promoted by Republicans. Here are excerpts:
Nine members of the far-right Proud Boys group and three protesters are facing riot and assault charges after a street brawl between them Friday night in New York.
The fight wasn’t a random clash, though: The Proud Boys were in Manhattan thanks to an invite from the Metropolitan Republican Club.
In a speech at the club, which was vandalized before the event, Proud Boys leader Gavin McInnes waved a sword at anti-fascist protesters and celebrated the assassination of a socialist Japanese politician. McInnes, a Vice co-founder, dressed up as the Japanese assassin who killed the politician, complete with glasses that made his eyes into a racist caricature of a Japanese person’s eyes.
It was a bizarre event to host at the GOP’s Manhattan clubhouse, but the Metropolitan Republican Club defended McInnes and the Proud Boys after the brawl. In a statement released Sunday, the club said McInnes’s speech “was certainly not inciting violence.”
The Republican club’s role hosting the event highlights how the Proud Boys have managed to insinuate themselves with mainstream Republicans, even as they increasingly make news for violence. But the New York Republicans aren’t alone — the Proud Boys have already managed to make their way into other mainstream GOP campaign events and conservative media.
Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart and Devin Nunes have posed for pictures with Proud Boys on the campaign trail. Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson posed in a Fox green room with two Proud Boys and Republican operative Roger Stone earlier this year.
Stone has himself taken steps to be initiated into the Proud Boys and made headlines in March when he used the Proud Boys as a security force at the Dorchester Conference, a Republican event in Oregon. By then, the Proud Boys were already notorious in Oregon for a series of bloody Portland brawls. But Dorchester board member and former Oregon legislator Patrick Sheehan defended the Proud Boys’ attendance, telling Willamette Week that Stone “was worried about getting killed … He said he’d been in touch with individual Proud Boys for more than a year, and that he tried talking some out of attending the first Unite the Right rally.“I urged a number of individual proudboys [sic] I know NOT to go to Charlottesville because of the stated views of some of the on-line organizers,” he said.
Fascist skinhead groups have wreaked havoc in the U.S. for decades, but scholars of fascism have noted that those groups pose limited political threats — unless a mainstream political party embraces them.
“The skinheads, for example, would become functional equivalents of Hitler’s SA and Mussolini’s squadristi only if they aroused support instead of revulsion,” historian Robert Paxton writes in his 2004 book The Anatomy of Fascism. “If important elements of the conservative elite begin to cultivate or even tolerate them as weapons against some internal enemy, such as immigrants, we are approaching Stage Two" of what he identifies as fascist insurgency.
The Proud Boys, which have a paramilitary wing, have already proved willing to act as strongmen for Stone, and GOP stalwarts like the Metropolitan Republican Club have already proved willing to host the group.
[A]s clashes between pro-Trump protesters and left-wing “antifa” grabbed headlines in the summer of 2017, McInnes sought to play up violence as a part of the Proud Boy ethos. . . . . McInnes also made a new achievement for Proud Boys: the “fourth degree,” designated for Proud Boys who had endured a “major struggle for the cause.”
Proud Boy rhetoric also grew more belligerent, adopting mottoes like “Fuck around and find out” and “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.” Both lines are references to punching out antifa members in self-defense. But Proud Boys have also embraced references and clothing with references to “helicopter rides,” an allusion to Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s regime executing opponents by throwing them out of helicopters.
That attention has drawn even more would-be fighters to Proud Boy events, according to Keegan Hankes, a senior researcher at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project. At this point, the violence surrounding the Proud Boy has become the group’s “life blood,” according to Hankes.
[V]iolence has erupted outside other, more conventionally Republican events, including a February 2017 event hosted by New York University’s College Republican club. Police arrested 11 people in brawls outside the NYU building. Among them was Proud Boy Salvatore Cipolla, who attacked a journalist who was covering the event. Cipolla attended Unite the Right later that year. During an on-camera interview at Unite the Right, Cipolla identified as a Proud Boy and showed off a Proud Boy tattoo.
Jason Lee Van Dyke, a Proud Boy who also acts as the group’s lawyer said the group has found welcome with a populist, pro-Trump wing of the Republican party.
“I think some Republicans appreciate the Proud Boys because they understand what we actually stand for: love of country, small government, freedom, and fun,” he said. Van Dyke was expelled from his college over a firearms offense after which campus police found an anti-Semitic race war book in his dorm. He was recently charged for allegedly filing a false police report about the theft of his guns.
The rift between Trumpist and traditional conservatives recently engulfed the Metropolitan Republican Club, where McInnes spoke on Friday. In early 2017, the New York Post reported that the club’s “never Trump” leadership was attempting to “purge” the club’s pro-Trump, far-right elements.
That older, anti-Trump faction appears to have lost—at the Metropolitan Republican Club and elsewhere in the U.S., as more extreme-right elements take hold of the GOP.
The Metropolitan Republican Club recently hosted open Islamophobe Pamela Geller. A State of the Union watch party at the club in January descended into alt-right chaos, the Observer reported.
But the Proud Boys’ supporters in the GOP say there’s nothing untoward about the group—at least not more so than mainstream Republicans.