The Proud Boys and the Threat They Pose


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PORTLAND, OR – AUGUST 15 : The Proud Boys, an alt-right group, faces off against Black Lives Matters protesters using mace and a paint ball gun on August 15, 2020 in downtown Portland, Oregon. Demonstrations have occurred on almost a nightly basis in Portland since the killing of George Floyd. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images )

America is known by some to be hilarious, looking from the past, present and into the future. It is a country whose people have a long, profound history with nationalism. America’s history has seen movements regarding nationalism with jingoists in the late-1800s and McCarthyism in the 1940s. All of these previous phases of nationalism all came from the idea that America was superior, a country to be proud of, something great beyond words. Do these references sound familiar? With President Trump confirming that he was indeed a nationalist in 2018, it is not surprising that he shares similar beliefs with previous nationalistic parties. For example, Trump believes that immigrants are flooding into America and taking away precious work opportunities from the native population, a sentiment shared with the jingoists. However, he does not just share similar opinions held by American nationalists; he also shares such sentiments with an infamous party known as the Nazi Party. When Adolph Hitler wanted to ensure his rise of power, all he had to do was rely on a group known as the “Brown Shirts.” The Brown Shirts were a group unafraid to resort to violence in order to silence the opposition in the polls. It targeted groups like the Communists and intellectuals, ensuring that the population would vote for and follow Hitler in all ways possible. Trump’s own “Brown Shirts” are an organization known as the “Proud Boys”. The Proud Boys are an organization that has only recently captured the public’s attention, specifically because Trump endorsed them in a speech where he was asked to denounce them along with white supremacy. The impact of this acknowledgement is great and spells trouble for democracy, as it invites an element of fascism into the national government.

The Proud Boys is a ragtag group best described as Scar’s hyenas from the movie “The Lion King,” that is, if the hyenas were all male, had a penchant for preserving white culture and supported Trump. The Proud Boys organization was founded in September 2016, by a man known as Gavin McInnes. Interestingly enough, while the group is extremely racist, it is rather diverse. For example, the group’s chairman is Enrique Tarrio, a man who identifies as Afro-Cuban. For all its diversity, the group only allows “biological males” to join. The Proud Boys describe themselves as alt-light, implying that they are involved in such issues as feminism, Islam, and illegal immigration. In addition, many believe that men and Western culture in its entirety are under siege. For example, many of their members strongly believe in the white genocide conspiracy theory, which theorizes that the white race is dying out because of growing non-white populations and “forced assimilation.” This theory pins Jewish people as the masterminds behind the so-called “genocide.” As one can expect from a group that Trump endorses, they do not support illegal immigration, are Islamophobic, are anti-Semetic, and are extremely misogynistic. For example, McInnes has said that women are “lazy” and “less ambitious” than men, and that women today are “colostomy bags for various strangers’ semen.” Indeed, McInnes and his cronies are truly men who respect women. In addition to their questionable views, the group resorts to violence and intimidation to enforce their ideas. For example, in 2019, Proud Boys member Reggie Axtell threatened Portland mayor Ted Wheeler. Axtell said in a video that Wheeler’s days “are … numbered. I promise you this, Ted Wheeler: I’m coming for you, you little punk.” 

This description should paint a picture of who the Proud Boys are and what they represent. That is, they threaten America’s democracy. They serve as Trump’s attack dogs, willing to silence anything and everything that disagrees with them. They are so unwilling to hear others opinions, and when criticized, try to silence them. For example, in 2018, journalist Vic Berger was harassed by the Proud Boys following his articles criticizing the group. They ended up finding his address and making a couple of “visits” to him, which served essentially as a warning: keep writing and [we will] hurt you, we know your address. Democracy is based on the free exchange of ideas, and the Proud Boys are supplanting such an exchange. By trying to ensure that only certain ideas can be expressed, the Proud Boys are censoring opposing ideas simply because they cannot accept any other views. Their misogyny and racism also hurts the idea of democracy. Democracy is supposed to allow any person or organization to freely express their ideas without the fear of retaliation (given that they are willing to accept any consequences for their actions). The Proud Boys seem to believe that men who share similar views with them are the only ones worth listening to. This group is also attempting to dismantle decades of work that created the foundation of the nation today, from the first Constitutional Convention to when suffragettes fought for their rights. The Proud Boys’ role in politics today is nothing short of cancer, festering and spreading and trying to ensure that the government bends the way they tell it to.

Even though Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump and his cronies are refusing to accept the outcome. With protests like the Million MAGA March taking place all across the nation, many are preparing for the inevitable coming weeks of political unrest. The Proud Boys are no exception; in fact, it appears that they are willing to get violent. According to Forbes, the purported leader of the group said that the group was “rolling out” and that Donald Trump’s standby order “has been rescinded.” This is atrocious behavior. The fact that the candidate that they supported did not win does not excuse the violent behavior and intimidation that they are resorting to. Sad is the state of affairs in America today, and one can only hope that the situation improves.