Who are US far-right group Proud Boys?

A person carrying a Proud Boys flag. Credit: AP

Donald Trump refused to condemn the actions of far-right group Proud Boys during the first Presidential Debate with Joe Biden.

The incumbent President was offered the chance to criticise the neo-fascists but instead said “stand back and stand by”.

The group has only been around for four years and has come to represent parts of the far-right in the US.

Who founded Proud Boys?

One of the co-founders of Vice magazine, Gavin McInnes, started the organisation, which officially launched in September 2016 on the far-right website of Taki’s Magazine, where Richard B Spencer was once executive editor. The group, however, had been previously operating.

Where does the name come from?

Rather surprisingly, Proud Boys derives from the song ‘Proud of Your Boy’ which forms part of the soundtrack in the Disney Film Aladdin. McInnes has a profound dislike of the song, having heard what he describes as the “fake, humble, and self-serving” lyrics on a talent show in 2015.

What do they stand for?

Proud Boys glorifies violence against those with left wing views and is described as being “overtly Islamophobic”, anti-Semitic and racist.  McInnes once said "I want violence, I want punching in the face. I'm disappointed in Trump supporters for not punching enough.”

Additionally, the group are vehemently opposed to feminism and encourages gender stereotypes, where women are seen as subservient to men. 

A protest in Portland earlier this year. Credit: AP

Who are members?

The group target white men aged between 15 and 30. In 2018, they were known to have around 160 members.

The reported initiation process for prospective members involves stating: "I’m a proud Western chauvinist, I refuse to apologize for creating the modern world”, then the person is punched until they recite pop culture trivia, such as the names of five cereals, followed by getting a a tattoo and agreeing to not masturbate and, finally, they are required to get into a major fight "for the cause."

They also have a paramilitary wing, named “Based Stickman”.

The group claim to be patriotic. Credit: AP

What has been the reaction to the group?

The FBI have categorised Proud Boys as an extremist group, while the Southern Poverty Law Center describes them as a hate group.

In September, Fred Perry stopped selling black and yellow polo shirts, which had become associated with the group. The company said: “We have seen that the black/yellow/yellow twin tipped shirt is taking on a new and very different meaning in North America as a result of its association with the Proud Boys. That association is something we must do our best to end.”

Numerous members have been arrested following a collection of incidents. Arguably the most notable of which took place at the Metropolitan Republican Club. The fight that took place resulted in seven men pleading guilty to charges including riot, disorderly conduct and attempted assault.