Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/10/2018 (395 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck... well, you know the rest.
The rise of far-right groups in Canada and the United States should be cause for concern.
Recently, the Proud Boys, a far-right group founded in 2016 by Canadian Gavin McInnes (himself a migrant from England, now living in the United States) took part in a violent assault on Oct. 12 near an event Mr. McInnes headlined in New York City. Confronted by a smaller group of anti-fascist protesters, dozens of members of the Proud Boys were captured on video attacking them, kicking them on the ground and shouting homophobic slurs.
Three of the protesters and nine members of the Proud Boys face various counts of rioting, assault and attempted assault, according to The Daily Beast. More attacks by Proud Boys against leftist protesters in Portland, Ore., and Providence, R.I., followed in the next few days.
Mr. McInnes’s event, hosted by the Metropolitan Republican Club on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, was itself an expression of far-right violence. Mr. McInnes had announced he would be re-enacting the 1960 murder of Japanese socialist Inejiro Asanuma, who was assassinated during a televised political debate by a 17-year-old nationalist wielding a samurai sword. It’s a gruesome and horrifying event to re-enact, regardless of one’s political beliefs.
The Proud Boys attracted notoriety in Canada last year when five members — who were also members of Canadian Armed Forces — interrupted Indigenous activists’ protest of an Edward Cornwallis monument in Halifax on Canada Day. The five men, whose actions the Canadian Forces described as "inconsistent with the values and ethics expected of those in uniform," were investigated by military police, but ultimately faced no charges.
In April 2017, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported that the Proud Boys would receive support from a paramilitary group known as the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights, created by Kyle Chapman, a California activist arrested at a clash between anti-fascist protestors and pro-Trump demonstrators. "I’m proud to announce that my newly created Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights will be partnering with Proud Boys," Mr. Chapman said, with the "full approval" of Mr. McInnes.
The altercation in New York showed the Proud Boys have plenty of interest in violence themselves. It’s a far cry from their stated goal of "defending" Western culture, or their rather odd ritual of initiating members by smacking them while the inductee recites the names of breakfast cereals.
Mr. McInnes has a long, public record of anti-Semitic, racist, Islamophobic and misogynist statements, up to and including defending Nazis and denying the Holocaust. He has also espoused violence in numerous online videos.
A larger question is: who’s supporting them? Clearly, the Republicans who invited McInnes to speak at their club were willing to provide him and his group with a platform. They weren’t the only ones. Republican operative Roger Stone employed members of the Proud Boys as security during a Republican conference in Oregon in March 2017.
There is, of course, historical precedent for a loosely-affiliated, but tightly-organized far-right militia that could terrorize political foes and marginalized groups. The Nazi-supporting Brownshirts were notorious for advancing Adolf Hitler’s social agenda through violence against Jews and leftists.
With the Proud Boys, it’s not a question whether it just walks or quacks like a duck. It’s more about whether it steps like a goose, or just plain goose-steps like a...
Well, you know the rest.
Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board.