Members of the far-right organisation, Proud Boys, posted jubilant messages on social media after Donald Trump appeared to support their activities during the first presidential debate, telling the group to stand back and stand by.
Asked to denounce white supremacy, Donald Trump initially replied ‘sure’, before saying that everything he saw was from the leftwing, not the rightwing.
When pressed further, the US president asked the moderator for a name, prompting Joe Biden, his Democratic opponent, to mention the Proud Boys, an organisation that the Southern Poverty Law Centre has designated as a far-right hate group.
Donald Trump’s response prompted condemnation from Democrats and a few Republicans.
It echoed his comment in 2017 when he spoke of ‘fine people on both sides’ in referring to a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.
The Proud Boys, a self-proclaimed fraternal organisation founded in 2016 when Donald Trump was running for president, refers to its members as ‘western chauvinists’.
Joe Biggs, a Proud Boys member, wrote on Parler, an alternative social media network, in a reference to extreme anti-fascist protesters that President Donald Trump told the Proud Boys to stand by because someone needs to deal with ANTIFA who is a political protest movement incorporating autonomous groups affiliated by their militant opposition to fascism and other forms of extreme right-wing ideology.
Proud Boys was barred from Facebook in 2018 but has continually tried to revamp its base on the platform.
The group is best known for street fighting, bizarre rituals and wearing black and yellow Fred Perry polo shirts.
The movement has branches across America and elsewhere, including the United Kingdom.
Facebook removed a network of accounts connected to the group in June.
Oren Segal, an expert on extremism at the Anti Defamation League, said membership of the group ranged from white supremacists to ethnic minorities, who had increasingly converged around the concept of being the frontline in the battle against the extreme left.
Donald Trump has repeatedly asserted that Joe Biden supports anarchists and radical protestors in his campaign for re-election.
After returning to the White House on Wednesday, Donald Trump sought to distance himself from his own comments, claiming he was not familiar with the group and he said that he didn’t know who the Proud Boys were and that whoever they are, they need to stand down.
Joe Biden and campaign surrogates kept up the pressure, however, Mr Biden retweeted a post by a journalist who had posted screenshots of rapturous remarks from members of the group, including Mr Biggs.
Joe Biden, who has previously said his decision to run for president was partly a response to the way Donald Trump had responded to the situation in Charlottesville three years ago, tweeted that this was Donald Trump’s America.
These Proud Boys need to get a job, don’t we all wish we had time to hang out on the streets all day and they’re all grown-ups and they might want to think of themselves as men and not as boys, although they do all seem to have the intelligence of children.
And what are they proud of, their douchebagness? Yet groups like these are permitted to live out their fantasies.
But does anyone actually take these Proud Boys seriously, it all seems a bit niche to me and reminds me of Germany before the second world war? And hoodlums will find any vision for a speck of attention.
The Proud Boys are a far-right and neo-fascist, male-only organisation that encourages and engages in political violence. It’s based in the United States and has a presence in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.
The Proud Boys emerged as part of the alt-right, but McInnes started distancing himself from the alt-right in early 2017, saying the alt right’s focus was about ethnicity.
The group believes men, especially white men and the Western culture is under siege and their views have elements of the white genocide conspiracy theory.
Officially, the group rejects white supremacy, although it has significant links with white supremacist groups.
Its members have partaken in numerous racist events and events centred around anti-left violence, with ex-members organising the Unite the Right protest in Charlottesville, and the organisation glorified violence and the Southern Poverty Law Centre has called it an alt-right fight club.
Remember, it only took two white American supremacists to execute the Oklahoma City Bombing, killing 168 Americans, including 19 small children and injuring another 500.
No one had ever heard of them before and no one should be encouraging these groups, let alone the President and the abiding impression of Donald Trump’s remark was that he considers himself the commander in chief of the Proud Boys and that they would obey his orders.
He clearly made no attempts to estrange himself from them, and in the context of his remarks following the Charlottesville violence, I believe we can safely conclude that he considers himself as their commander in chief.
And regardless of which side people might support, the formation of armed militias on the streets of US towns and cities further destabilises a fraught situation and contributes to greater fear and violence.
And we would expect any credible politician to indeed condemn any escalation of threat or violence, but Donald Trump doesn’t seem the least bit interested in even containing the situation and more interested in blaming one side and validating the other.
The measures he’s taken, sending in various Federal forces seem to have done nothing but fan the flames of discord.
In the context of that, and the manner in which Donald Trump responded to the invitation to condemn white supremacists appears to be implicit acceptance of them.
And there has been global anger at his acceptance of jackbooted fascism and Donald Trump is frequently forced to explain his verbosities, when it’s pretty evident that his first utterance on a matter is the one he usually means.