The Proud Boys

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The Proud Boys
LeaderEnrique Tarrio
FounderGavin McInnes
Founded2016; 5 years ago (2016)
Ideology
Political positionFar-right
ColorsBlack and yellow

The Proud Boys are a twenty-first century alt-right organization. They do most of their things in the United States. A Canadian-British man called Gavin McInnes started the group because he hoped Donald Trump would win the 2016 United States presidential election. The Proud Boys only allow men to join, so there are no women.[1] They call themselves "western chauvinists," meaning they think Western Civilization is the best, and they say they are not racist, are not alt-right and do not support white supremacy or fascism or violence. Experts disagree and say they are racist, are alt-right and do support white supremacy and violence.[2][3]

According to the Anti-Defamation League, the Proud Boys hate women, Muslims, transmen and transwomen, and immigrants. The United States FBI says they are an extremist group. The Southern Poverty Law Center says they are a hate group.[1][4]

As of 2020, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites do not allow Proud Boys to post.[1][4] Square, J.P. Morgan Chase and Paypal all stopped processing payments from the Proud Boys' online store.[5]

Activities[change | change source]

The Proud Boys like to show up to places where liberal organizations are protesting to counter-protest and fight.[6]

In 2017, Proud Boy Jason Kessler helped organize the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. There, the Proud Boys joined Neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan to say they did not want a statue of Robert E. Lee taken down. A woman named Heather Heyer was killed when a right-winger drove his car into a crowd.[1]

In 2019, some Proud Boys were arrested in New York for physically attacking members of Antifa, an anti-fascist group. The Proud Boys have shown up to Black Lives Matter protests.[1]

Politics[change | change source]

The Proud Boys say that they are not racist and say they do not like white supremacy, racism, violence or fascism, but they spend a lot of time with people who are openly racist and work toward the same goals. They like to carry weapons in public. They say they must exist as a politically right counter to the anti-fascist group Antifa. According to scholar Amy Cooter of Vanderbilt University, they do support white supremacy and only say they don't. Cooter told USA Today that the Proud Boys are trying not to look like Neo-Nazis.[7]

Joan Donovan of Harvard University's Technology and Social Change Research Project said the Proud Boys don't want to be called a hate group because then they cannot use Paypal, Chase or most other programs to sell things or collect donated money through the Internet. Most online payment collection services, for example PayPal, say in their terms of service that they will not work with hate groups. In 2019, McInnes sued the SPLC for calling the Proud Boys a hate group.[5]

Recruiting[change | change source]

The Proud Boys are very good with technology and social media. As late as 2018, they used Facebook to bring in new members. They had rules and prizes for different things. A member could earn "first degree" by posting a video of himself saying the Proud Boys oath: "My name is [full name], I'm from [city, state], and I am a western chauvinist who refuses to apologize for creating the modern world." You can add anything else you'd like to your video, as long as you say those words exactly.[8] Members could earn other degrees by letting other Proud Boys beat them up, getting a Proud Boys tattoo or getting into a fight "for the cause."[8][9]

Presidential debate[change | change source]

The Proud Boys became more famous on September 29, 2020 because the candidates talked about them in the first debate of the 2020 United States presidential election. Presidential debates are when the two or more people who want to be president stand on a stage. Another person called a moderator asks them questions and lets them argue with each other. People watch in person or on television or the Internet.

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden debated each other that night. The host running the debate, Chris Wallace, asked Trump if he would say white supremacist and militia groups were bad and tell them to stop hurting people and breaking property. Donald Trump asked Wallace to say the name of a specific group. Biden said "The Proud Boys." Then Donald Trump said "Proud Boys, stand back and stand by, but you know what? Someone's got to do something about Antifa."[7] In English, "stand by" means "wait and be ready to act."[10]

According to Elon University professor Megan Squire, this made the Proud Boys "extremely happy." "They reacted exactly as I thought they would," Squire told USA Today. "They were extremely excited by what he said. They felt validated. They took it the same way everybody listening took it — that he was giving them a shout-out, basically."[11]

#ProudBoys Twitter hack[change | change source]

A few days later, gay men hacked the #ProudBoys Twitter hashtag. Officially, Twitter does not allow Proud Boys to post, but some do anyway. Gay men posted pictures of themselves with their husbands or other partners and tagged the posts #ProudBoys, because they are boys and they are proud. Englishman Matt Dechaine started the idea. He said he did it to "spread joy" and work for "movement for positive change [...] rooted in respect and love for each other."[12]

Enrique Tarrio said thought the hacking was funny but did not like it for other reasons: "One of the messages they want to send with this is that they're trying to drown out our supporters, they're trying to silence us. ... When you're trying to drown out other people's thoughts, I don't think there's anything progressive about that. Why don't these people just engage?"[12]

Colors and logos[change | change source]

Proud Boys like to wear red MAGA hats because they support United States President Donald Trump. They also like to wear black-and-yellow Fred Perry polo shirts. Fred Perry stopped selling the shirts in the United States because they do not like the Proud Boys.[1]

After Donald Trump told them "stand back and stand by," Proud Boys started wearing clothes saying "Standing back and standing by."

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Martin Belam (September 30, 2020). "Proud Boys: who are far-right group that backs Donald Trump?". Guardian. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  2. Kyle Harvey (October 1, 2020). "BLM group, Proud Boys stand together at Salt Lake City press conference". KUTV. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  3. Jemima McEvoy (September 26, 2020). "Who Are The Proud Boys, The Group Behind The Controversial Portland Rally?". Forbes. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Sheera Frenkel; Annie Karni. "Proud Boys celebrate Trump's 'stand by' remark about them at the debate". New York Times. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  5. 5.0 5.1 April Glaser (April 19, 2020). "The Swag Shop of the Far Right". Slate. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  6. Mike Baker; Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs; Kaitlin Gillespie (September 26, 2020). "A Day of Protest in Portland as 'Proud Boys' Converge on the City". New York Times. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Who are the Proud Boys? Far-right group has concerned experts for years". USA Today. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Taylor Hatmaker (August 10, 2018). "Facebook is the recruiting tool of choice for far-right group the Proud Boys". Tech Crunch. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  9. Zach Crenshaw (September 30, 2020). "'Proud Boys' have been recruiting in Arizona for months". ABC. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  10. "Stand by". Cambridge English Dictionary. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  11. Courtney Subramanian; Jordan Culver (September 29, 2020). "Donald Trump sidesteps call to condemn white supremacists — and the Proud Boys were 'extremely excited' about it". USA Today. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Alaa Elassar (October 4, 2020). "Gay men have taken over the Proud Boys Twitter hashtag". CNN. Retrieved October 5, 2020.