Reluctant Censure of Proud Boys After Debate Validates Trumps Re-Election Strategy

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President Trump once again refused to take a hard stance in condemning white supremacy and white supremacist violence during Tuesday night’s tumultuous and bizarre presidential debate with his Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

Trump made many comments disparaging antifa, which is not a formal group but rather a movement of people who are vociferous in their views against fascism. Even after Biden pointed out that “antifa is an idea and not an organization,” the president’s remarks made clear that he intended to continue demonizing antifa and to employ baseless scare tactics in order to errantly posit the movement as a threat to the country.

Reluctant Censure of Proud Boys

Debate moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump if he’d take a similar stance on actual threats from known right-wing hate groups.

“Almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing,” Trump responded.

That comment directly contradicted Trump’s own Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which considers violence from right-wing groups the greatest terrorist threat to the United States at this time. Indeed, a whistleblower within DHS has even alleged that department leaders had pressured government employees to revise draft documents on the matter to downplay the far right threat in order to match Trump’s dubious rhetoric about antifa.

Debate host Wallace and Biden, however, pressed Trump to condemn white supremacist hate groups on national TV, which prompted him to ask for the name of an organization he could make a statement on. “Proud Boys,” Biden chimed in, referencing a white supremacist organization of men in the U.S. that openly endorses and engages in violence toward those who oppose their blatantly discriminatory and bigoted views and have on several occasions clashed with anti-fascists.

Trump’s response — “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by” — was the opposite of a condemnation of the group. Indeed, according to The New York Times, members of the far right group celebrated Trump’s comment as a tacit endorsement:

Within minutes, members of the group were posting in private social media channels, calling the president’s comments “historic.” In one channel dedicated to the Proud Boys on Telegram, a private messaging app, group members called the president’s comment a tacit endorsement of their violent tactics. In another message, a member commented that the group was already seeing a spike in “new recruits.”

Trump’s reluctance to directly speak out against far right and white supremacist violence immediately came in for criticism, prompting Jason Miller, a senior adviser on the president’s reelection campaign, to wrongly claim that Trump’s comments made “very clear he wants [the Proud Boys] to knock it off.”

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However, the Proud Boys clearly indicated that they understood the president’s words to mean he was on their side, based on comments on social media and the organization’s website.AMIBC® - VOTE! BE COUNTED! BE HEARD!

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