Proud Boys: The Greatest Threat to America
A peek into this armed cult and similar groups as an immediate public danger
At protests across the country, groups of white men have been seen instigating violence. While those on the right villainize these people as leftist extremists, members of Antifa, the reality is that many of them are a part of a right-wing hate group known as The Proud Boys.
The group was formed in 2016 by VICE Media co-founder Gavin McInnes and instantly became leaders in the growing Alt-Right movement. The group admits only men and glorifies political violence. They have been classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and described as hipster racists by VOX. Some of their actions include street fights with left-leaning groups, wearing shirts that praise the murders of leftists in South America, and re-enacting political assassinations. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center:
“Rank-and-file Proud Boys and leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists. They are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric. Proud Boys have appeared alongside other hate groups at extremist gatherings like the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville. Indeed, former Proud Boys member Jason Kessler helped to organize the event, which brought together Klansmen, antisemites, Southern racists, and militias. Kessler was only “expelled” from the group after the violence and near-universal condemnation of the Charlottesville rally-goers.”
While leaders of the movement like McInnes claim that they are a fraternal organization and call the classification of themselves “Western chauvinist,” other Proud Boy leaders are more explicit. “Let’s not bullshit,” Brian Brathovd, aka Caeralus Rex, told his co-hosts on the antisemitic The Daily Shoah — one of the most popular alt-right podcasts. If the Proud Boys “were pressed on the issue, I guarantee you that like 90% of them would tell you something along the lines of ‘Hitler was right. Gas the Jews.’”
Proud Boys have garnered some attention for their penchant for violence. They have been caught attacking protestors outside of a McInnes speech at New York University, at the March 4 Trump Rally in Berkley, stabbing an attendee at a Chicago Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) concert, and starting a riot at the Metropolitan Republican Club in New York City. Proud Boys were also present at the Unite the Right Rally which was organized by Proud Boys member Jason Kessler. This was the rally that ended when a white supremacist drove his car through a crowd of protestors, killing Heather Heyer.
The Proud Boys continue to wreak havoc on cities around the country. Just hours before Jacob Blake was shot by police, Proud Boys were rioting in Portland, Oregon. According to the Portland Mercury, Proud Boys aimed firearms at Black Lives Matter protestors and doused journalists and protestors with bear mace before getting into a physical altercation with the protestors.
The Unite the Right rally was the coming out for groups like the Proud Boys, Identity Europa, Oath Keepers, Boogaloo Bois and other far-right paramilitary organizations who fashion themselves as “cool” pro-white activists.” The reality is that they are racists and bordering on Neo-Nazis. Their acts of violence encourage people like the Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old who murdered two people and severely injured a third at a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin following the shooting of Blake.
“These groups, like the Proud Boys, carry American Flags while having Nazi tattoos on their arms,” said Will Attig of the Union Veterans Council. “They are fake patriots marching around the streets of America with more guns and weapons than I had in Iraq.”
Attig also warned that they are using propaganda, sometimes put out by foreign governments like the Russians, to target young, single, white males. They also target soldiers and veterans. They use messages similar to those used in the 1930s to create an us vs them dynamic that has these extremists believing that changing culture is challenging their place atop society as white males.
These white supremacist groups have been encouraged and promoted by Trump. After the Unite the Right rally, Trump referred to the white supremacists as “some good people.” When he said that, he was referring to people like Caeralus Rex, Richard Spencer whose supporters greet him with a Seig Heil, or the Boogaloo Bois who are planning to ignite a race war. While the days of wearing a white hood may be gone, with Trump as their leader, young, mostly white men, have taken up the mantle proudly showing their faces and brandishing their guns at anyone who they don’t believe meets their standard of a “real American.” Even at this week’s Republican National Convention, they could be seen, like when Charlie Kirk, of Turning Point USA, said that Trump is the “bodyguard of Western Civilization.” While this may seem innocuous to many, Kirk’s message to far-right groups like the Proud Boys was clear, if you want to protect a White America, you must make sure Trump is elected, no matter what.