The Proud Boys Implode

02 12 18

Tough times for the Proud Boys whose organization has been slowly imploding, in real time, and online for all of us to see.

On Thanksgiving eve Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes released a YouTube video disassociating himself with the group. Apparently, this was on the advice of his lawyers who said that quitting would help the organization and its members who are facing criminalcharges for a violent brawl in Manhattan, outside of McInnes’ speech to the Metropolitan Republican Club.

The fall out from the Manhattan brawl has dealt a real blow to the organization’s infrastructure. Facebook has taken down Proud Boys affiliated pages, several members have been identified by anti-fascist groups and some have been fired from their jobs. PayPal has kicked them off their platform, cutting off a funding stream. Not to mention the negative press, and Google searches for the group’s name (and McInnes) which will forever be a dumpster fire.

I watched the McInnes video (all 36 minutes of it!) and was struck by how much it felt like a throwback to pre-Charlottesville alt-right rhetoric. McInnes wants you to know that he isn’t a racist and the Proud Boys aren’t alt-right or a hate group. It’s all a joke you see! White Supremacists and Nazis don’t actually exist. They’re a fantasy of social justice warriors, which is why it’s cool to make jokes about them and use hateful slurs. McInnes even has a montage of himself interviewing people of color and Orthodox Jews on his podcast, complete with cheesy music! Even the name is a joke, a play on a musical that McInnes hated. This kind of rhetoric, so common before Trump’s election, feels out of place even among the far right these days. Most of them don’t really bother with the theater of irony anymore. It isn’t necessary now that the GOP has wholly adopted them into the fold so it’s weird that McInnes stuck so closely to that old playbook in his swan song.

McInnes’ exit probably won’t help the Proud Boys recover. The next appointed leader Jason Lee Van Dyke had his own troubled history similar to McInnes’. The leadership team, an initially anonymous group calling themselves “The Elders” unveiled a new set of rules aimed meant to help the group’s image and managed to doxx themselves in the release ending their own anonymity in the process. Van Dyke’s tenure was incredibly short. On Thursday The Elders released a statement saying he’d been kicked out of the group!

Amidst all of this drama, two more members were arrested and charged for their role in the October NYC attack.

McInnes hasn’t helped himself either. He was due to travel to Australiafor a speaking tour in February, but after more than 81,000 people signed a petition to Australia’s parliament calling on the government to deny him entry into the country, he was denied.

It’s worth noting that for all McInnes and the Proud Boys’ problems, few elected Republicans have bothered to distance themselves from the group or denounce them. Even the news that the FBI designated the Proud Boys as a hate group, hasn’t spurred any elected Republicans to take a stand.

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