By MARTY GOODMAN
“We will kill you. That’s the Proud Boys in a nutshell.” — Gavin McInnes, Proud Boy founder
“The German resurrection is a male event.” — Engelbert Huber, Nazi author, 1933
Shortly after an Oct. 12 presentation by fascist “Proud Boy” founder Gavin McInnes at the Manhattan Republican Club, three anti-fascist protesters were assaulted by about 20 Proud Boys goons. Visible in a video provided by an independent videographer, the fascists set upon the departing antifa (anti-fascist) protesters around the corner from the Republican Club. Kicks and punches were clearly visible in the video to shouts of “faggots!”
Within moments, cops arrived as the melee unfolded in plain sight, yet no Proud Boy was arrested. The jubilant Proud Boy goons simply walked away unhindered by police. Cops arrested the three antifa victims—Finbarr Slonim, 20, Kai Russo, 20 and Caleb Perkins, 35—on charges of robbery and assault. Perkins faces an additional charge of resisting arrest. The Proud Boys claimed a protester stole the hat of one Proud Boy.
Cops taunted protesters by saying things like, “You should be lucky we’re not letting them beat your asses,” according to testimony at an Oct. 19 press conference organized by the People’s Assembly. A statement was read to the media: “New Yorkers should not forget that the Strategic Response Group [a police unit present on Oct. 12] was created as a response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Since its creation in 2015, the SRG has been used to arrest and jail activists, spy on us, break our bones, bloody our mouths and hospitalize us. The Proud Boys were acting on what the NYPD shows them every day: that in our white supremacist system, poor people, people of color, migrants, women, and LGBTQ people are fair game. On Oct. 13, Gavin McInnes stated on his podcast that he has ‘a lot of support in the NYPD.’ We believe him.”
Once again, capitalist police have shown themselves to be reliable allies, enablers, of racism and reaction! A week after videos of the attack were made available, public outrage eventually resulted in the arrest of nine Proud Boys. City Councilman Rory Lancman said, after viewing the video, “It is revolting to see white supremacists commit a hate crime on the streets of New York City—in full view of the NYPD—and for none of them to be arrested or prosecuted.”
The day after the New York attack, on Oct. 13, Proud Boys joined with Patriot Prayer and other far-right groups in a “flash mob for law and order” in Portland, Ore., to counter a memorial gathering for police shooting victim Patrick Kimmons. Police said that people carried knives, hard-knuckle gloves, and firearms into the fight that followed. On Oct. 19 in Miami, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was confronted by a protest organized by local Republicans, who shouted Trump slogans and yelled that Pelosi was a “Communist.”
Who are the Proud Boys?
Gavin McInnes, born in England, was a co-founder of the Canadian Vice magazine—the basis for a liberal TV cable program—but he parted ways with it in 2008, and his politics moved rightward. He founded the Proud Boys in 2016. Today it claims chapters in several U.S. cities and in Israel, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK. McInnes tells recruits that they’re not men until they’ve been beaten up and they’ve beaten up someone else.
McInnes parades the Proud Boys as a “fraternal” organization. Members are often recognized by their black and gold Polo shirts, and their pro-Trump red caps with the slogan, “Make America Great Again.” McInnes officially disavows violence, along with racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and misogyny. A few “Proud Girls” are featured on their Facebook page, and there’s even an occasional Black Proud Boy and a handful of gay followers.
Regardless of its claims, however, the Southern Poverty Law Center, an anti-racist, anti-Klan organization, labeled the Proud Boys as “a hate group” that is “known for anti-Muslim and misogynist rhetoric.” McInnes has referred to transgender people as “gender niggers” and “stupid lunatics.” He wrote, “through trial and error, I learned that women want to be downright abused” by men, and said in a tweet that “every guy I’ve ever known to be involved in a ‘domestic’ was the result of some cunt trying to ruin his life.”
Muslim woman attacked by far right
One self-described Brown Muslim woman wrote of her encounter in New York City with far-right groups: “On June 10, 2017, I attended a counter-protest demonstrating against the ‘March Against Shariah,’ a nationwide anti-Muslim event organized by the SPLC-designated hate group “ACT For America” [said to be linked to the Trump administration]. When the event ended at 2 pm, the counter protest marched to City Hall and dispersed….
“On my way to the train station I encountered a group of 4 men wearing ‘Make America Great Again’ hats and ‘Proud Boys’ shirts, who then began harassing me because I was wearing a shirt with Arabic writing on it. One of the men singled me out and repeatedly yelled Islamophobic and misogynistic comments. He told me that my family and I should ‘go back to our country.’ He called me a ‘terrorist’ and said that a ‘Muslim slut’ like me should be killed, along with my family.”
“Alone, surrounded, and fearing for my safety, I threw my iced coffee toward him and tried to get away. He became instantly enraged and lunged toward me. He grabbed me by the throat and pushed me up against the wall. He held me there in a choke-hold, but because I was struggling he slammed me to the ground and tried to put his whole body on top of mine.”
“I kept fighting back so he slammed me again on my left side and pushed my face into the sidewalk, and then slammed me one more time before he put his knee on the back of my head while he kept trying to choke me. During all of this I remember telling him to stop and that he was choking me, but he said, ‘I can still hear you breathing” and choked me even harder.’”
The writer said she identified a G. Young on Facebook. Young bragged of “bashing that terrorist breeder,” and even gave the location where it happened, she said. The attacker, she continued, “was motivated by bigotry against Muslims, immigrants, and Black and Brown people, along with his hatred of women. The Proud Boys as an organization encourage violence against left wing protestors, offering a ##‘fourth degree status’ to their members if they commit acts of violence. After assaulting me, Geoff Young updated his Facebook bio to say ‘Fourth Degree Proud Boy,’ implying that he had somehow leveled up by assaulting me, a small Muslim woman.”
In their disavowal of the iconography of 1930s-style fascism, the Proud Boys follow the strategy of European fascist organizations who have abandoned overt fascist symbols like the swastika—much like the latter day Ku Klux Klan, whose leader, David Duke, is a Proud Boy admirer.
Brien James, a former Proud Boy leader, stated that he refused to mingle with National Socialists, yet he marched alongside them at the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. A video of the rally showed James behind a man yelling “Black lives don’t matter” and “Hitler did nothing wrong.” James, a racist skinhead organizer known for his extreme violence, was removed from Proud Boy ranks only after the widely condemned march, which resulted in the tragic murder of socialist Heather Meyer.
Here are some quotes from McInnes himself: In a June 2016 episode of the Gavin McInnes show, he said, “We will kill you. That’s the Proud Boys in a nutshell. We will kill you. We look nice, we seem soft, we have boys in our name … we will assassinate you.” In 2017, he said in an interview that violence “is a really effective way to solve problems.” Pawl Bazile pointed out that, as McInnes says, the Proud Boys are “Western chauvinists”—that is, in plain talk, supporters of racism and imperialism.
McInnes in a 2017 interview on NBC, said, “I’m not a fan of Islam. I think it’s fair to call me Islamophobic.” McInnes’ “Rebel Media” video features include “Donald Trump’s Muslim ban is exactly what we need right now” and “10 examples of the Koran being violent.” He’s hosted Pamela Geller, a prominent anti-Muslim bigot, on his newest show, “Get Off My Lawn.”
McInnes says, “Fighting solves everything. We need more violence from the Trump people. Trump supporters: choke a motherfucker. Choke a bitch. Choke a tranny. Get your fingers around the windpipe.”
At its core, Proud Boys despise changing gender roles and the fight for women’s equality. McInnes said last June on his “Get Off My Lawn” show, when speaking of immigrant women, “It’s such a rape culture with these immigrants, I don’t even think these women see it as rape. They see it as just like having a teeth [sic] pulled. ‘It’s a Monday. I don’t really enjoy it,’ but that’s what you do. I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t have the same trauma as it would for a middle-class white girl in the suburbs because it’s so entrenched into their culture.”
There are three degrees of membership within the Proud Boys, and to become a first degree he has to declare “I am a western chauvinist, and I refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.” The second degree requires a Proud Boy to endure a beating until he can yell out the names of five breakfast cereals and give up masturbation because, in theory, it will leave him more inclined to go out and meet women. Those who enter the third degree have demonstrated their commitment by getting a Proud Boys tattoo. The Proud Boys offer a “fourth degree status” to their members for acts of violence; left activists are a favorite target.
Build a mass united front to defeat fascism!
Far right attacks have risen dramatically with the Trump presidency. In desperation, capitalism is launching trade wars, breeding grounds for racism and nationalism (World Wars I and II). Moreover, capitalism has not fully recovered from the 2008 economic meltdown. Right-wing movements are advancing in Europe and in Brazil, which recently elected Jair Bolansaro, a death-squad-linked military thug and misogynist, as president. Working people, disgusted with corporate Democrats and even fake socialism, as in Brazil (the Workers Party), are seeking alternatives to the status quo. Some have turned to Trump, and many youth have turned to socialist ideas.
The U.S. right is testing the limits of terror against working people and all oppressed groups, fearing a possible rebellion. Fascism must be stopped in its tracks. Since both Republicans and Democrats represent the wealthy 1%, voting for Democrats is no solution to the Trump madness. Similarly, the cops and courts are part of this corrupt system that needs to be replaced.
Fascism seeks to terrorize working people and their organizations. Only working people, especially the millions organized in unions and doubly oppressed sectors, mobilized independently of the twin parties of capital, can hope to crush the fascist menace and drive them back into their rat holes.