Who are the Proud Boys?
In Tuesday’s presidential debate, moderator Chris Wallace tried to corner President Trump: “Are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities as we saw in Kenosha and as we saw in Portland?” “Sure.” responded Trump, before noting that all the violence he saw was the fault of ANTIFA and other left-wing groups. Both Wallace and Biden then implied that white supremacists and Proud Boys were responsible for the violence in Kenosha and Portland, which Trump rebutted by referring to ANTIFA. “ANTIFA is an idea, not an organization.” Biden responded.
Wallace’s repeated references to “white supremacist violence” in Kenosha are obviously attacks on Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old who was attacked in a dimly lit parking lot by a convicted pedophile under cover of a riot, and later by an ANTIFA mob incited by an illegally-armed felon who later admitted that his intent was to murder Rittenhouse. It is disgraceful for a journalist at Fox News (or any outlet) to attack a victimized minor as a white supremacist without evidence, much less in the middle of a presidential debate. Worse yet was Wallace’s implied white supremacist smear against Aaron Danielson, a Patriot Prayer member who was executed by an ANTIFA member in the streets of Portland for being a Trump supporter.
By associating the Proud Boys with white supremacists and blaming them for the violence committed against right wing groups, Wallace inverted moral status between victimizer and victim. Last summer, rioters received political permission slips in the form of bail funds, law enforcement stand down orders, and prosecutorial amnesty, allowing left wing mobs to run rampant in their violence and arson. The only time prosecutors took action was when someone defended themselves against the mob.
Enter the Proud Boys. This group was formed by Vice News Founder and comedian Gavin McInnes, who set it up as a joke. Their name is a reference to a song by the hit Broadway show Aladdin and their initiation ceremony is to name breakfast cereals while getting punched on the arm. Affirmation of the superiority of Western Civilizatiton is at the heart of the group's ideology, as reflected in their flag:
Just as with many fraternal orders, the Proud Boys actively engage in charity events. During and after the historic flooding of Houston in 2017, the group rented boats, trucks, trailers, and even an 18-wheeler to distribute emergency supplies to affected areas. Journalists caught wind of the event and attempted to track the Proud Boys by asking confused Houston residents “where the Nazis were.”
The Wikipedia entry on the Proud Boys leads off with a bald declaration featuring 13 footnotes.
What earns the Proud Boys the ire of the media is their advocacy of Western Civilization and their free speech activism, specifically their confrontations with ANTIFA. While Proud Boys stay away from ANTIFA events, Proud Boy events inevitably draw ANTIFA presence, usually resulting in self-defense violence and landing the group bad press and legal trouble. Why opposing ANTIFA would invite negative press is answered by a study by Dr. Eoin Lenihan, a professional political extremist group researcher. Dr. Lenihan mapped out the social media connections that American journalists have with ANTIFA members and ANTIFA twitter accounts. Some journalists are members of ANTIFA or actively source information from ANTIFA members who know the journalists will write sympathetic articles.
Virtually all legacy media outlets reverently refer to ANTIFA as “anti-fascist,” but refer to the Proud Boys as white supremacist, fascist, alt-right, or neo-Nazi. After journalists successfully smear Proud Boys members, criminal charges considered flimsy or baseless in any other context become difficult to defend against, as few will stick up for the rights of individuals considered politically toxic. Well-read readers may recognize this as Saul Alinsky’s Rule 13 from his book Rules for Radicals: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”
An incident in October 2018 plays out this dynamic perfectly. A few Proud Boys members went to an event at New York’s Metropolitan Republican Club but were ambushed by ANTIFA on the way home. The police had known ANTIFA was looking to attack the event and had set up blockades to prevent violence, only for four ANTIFA members to find their way around the blockade and attack a stray member with a glass bottle. Other Proud Boys rushed to the victim’s defense and pummeled the ANTIFA members until they scattered. One Proud Boy shouted, “There were f$#&ing four of them!” referring to the number he fended off single handedly. This comment was later misconstrued by New York prosecutors and politicians as “They were f$#&ing foreigners!” leading to false accusations of racial lynching. Two Proud Boys, Maxwell Hare and John Kinsman, found themselves in a courtroom smeared as white supremacists as Kinsman’s black wife and children watched perplexed and helpless from the gallery. Hare and Kinsman would later be sentenced to prison for gang violence.
This incident prompted Gavin McInnes to disassociate himself from the Proud Boys in an effort to help Hare and Kinsman avoid prison, as organizations require a leader to be considered a gang. The Proud Boys had become decentralized by 2018, but there is a symbolic leader named Enrique Tarrio, a black Cuban who sells T-shirts online. Tarrio was recently asked about Trump’s “Stand back and stand by” comments made during the debate. “He didn’t condemn us. He didn’t promote us either” Tarrio replied.
Media outlets are now churning out poorly researched articles about the Proud Boys, repeating false statements from articles written years ago. Newsweek wrote an article discussing Gavin McInnes’s video titled “10 Things I Hate About the Jews,” a satirical video where he promotes Israel. The New York Times put out an article titled “The Proud Boys, Who Trade in Political Violence, Get a Boost From Trump” which falsely claims that the group had a presence in 2017 neo-Nazi marches in Charlottesville.
By focusing on the Proud Boys, journalists are attempting to move the discussion away from Trump’s debate victory. Contrary to Chris Wallace and other Joe Biden allies, the ongoing riots are not the fault of any right-wing groups. Proud Boys did not attempt to murder Kyle Rittenhouse or burn down businesses in Kenosha, nor did they murder a Trump supporter in the streets of Portland. Such narratives are dead giveaways of journalistic malpractice and deserving of defamation lawsuits. According to Rittenhouse’s attorney, they are looking at just that.