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Gavin McInnes and the Proud Boys Are Too Stupid to Last

Gavin McInnes

Even the racist, homophobic right-wing establishment knows beating people up in public is bad PR.

You know what irony is? New York City's first weekend in decades without any shootings being touted as a big achievement the same weekend neo-fascist thugs beat the shit out of people. Yeah, it's a bit wordy, which is why Alanis didn't put it in the song. It's a pretty awesome achievement to not have anyone go a-shootin' folks in the biggest city in America, but it doesn't count for much when a collection of violent homophobic and sexist white supremacists -- the Proud Boys (barf) -- beat people on the streets while the cops stand there and watch. It's not something you put in the Chamber of Commerce brochure.

By now we all know about the Proud Boys, the collection of XXL-size Brownshirt wannabes organized and led by the chinless necktube named Gavin McInnes. McInnes, a cofounder of Vice, the media outlet that has come to personify everything awful about consumerist Brooklyn hipsterdom, has a long history of being the attention-deprived rabble-rouser who's conflated edginess with personality. After he left the media outlet -- because, I'm assuming, misogynistic drunkard "male feminists" who enjoy casual racism have some scruples -- he decided, much like Milo, that the future for a talentless mediocrity was a hard turn to the right. Now McInnes spends his days running a show on CRTV, an online television network (or as they're more widely called, "video blogging websites"), after being thrown off progressively further right news outlets. His show is mostly bigoted rants that your drunk uncle would find a bit much -- and threats of physical violence.

From this show he launched his little group, Proud Boys, which if you're gonna pick a name for your group of neo-Nazi "tough guys" is pretty weak compared to things like Storm Front, Storm Detachment, or Death's Head. I mean, I hear "Proud Boy" and I think of a foppish little tweenage English scalawag in a sailor suit. Proud Boys has been described as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and an organization of hipster racists by Vox, which means the term "hipster" is officially dead. At just about every event the members attend, they have been involved in street violence, including in Berkeley, at the Unite the Right rally, and in the recent incident in New York City. Now, of course I've stated in the past that I'm no fan of punching Nazis, but let me be clear -- I'm against sucker-punching or instigating the violence; self-defense is fine.

Sure, it's easy to snark about the Proud Boys or to go into a huge panic about an obviously dangerous but small cadre of people and compare them to the Nazi group known as the SA or Brownshirts, but there's accuracy there. The SA was basically a militia, or Freikorps, for Germany's Nazi Party run by Ernst Rohm, a man who, while a World War I veteran, was a military mediocrity. After the SA participated in the failed Beer Hall Putsch, Hitler publicly disavowed violence and sought power through legitimate means while quietly approving of Rohm and the SA. In time the SA swelled to gigantic numbers, and Rohm actually wanted to have the German army absorbed into it, and of course he would lead. That didn't sit well with any of the establishment politicians, the military, or the wealthy people Hitler spent years courting. You see, the establishment can be made up of incredibly sexist, racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, and generally abhorrent people, but they like to do things nice and clean, with no thugs running around. It's generally understood that if you're gonna be a supervillain, you don't let your goons actually run anything because, frankly, they're goons. So when Hitler decided to consolidate power and eliminate his enemies during what became known as the Night of the Long Knives, Rohm and the SA were at the top of the purge list, and most of the leaders were summarily executed. Oops.

This is important to remember as establishment politicians and media pundits pat McInnes on his hair gel-covered head and dance around the Proud Boys' outright calls for violence and bigotry by calling them things like "Western chauvinists" (which sounds like they're sexist cowboys). These people are gonna say they're the "good people on both sides" because they dress nicely on their YouTube channels where they say bluntly bigoted things and vow to hurt people. Establishment types will quietly condone these actions but publicly distance themselves and give them more power until it no longer serves their purpose and is counterproductive. Let's be real -- a lot of bigots may not like minorities or women, but they don't want them beaten in the streets. In camps out in the woods or prisons, sure, but not in the streets!

While yes, the Proud Boys (which they say is a mockery of weak men) are not good people and should have been arrested when they beat people right in front of New York cops (which, yeah, we need to talk about that, NYPD), and Gavin probably has violated more than a few laws with his open calls for violence, they're ultimately a group to be pitied. No, not the way you pity a skinny homeless kitten, but in their genuine patheticness.

Here are people who have been hustled by a largely talentless hack with a mediocre charisma score into turning their legitimate modern existential dread into a self-destructive white masculine toxicity under the guise of perceived empowerment. Ask anyone who studies hate groups and they'll tell you it's a cliche recruitment tactic. If they don't end up in jail for assault or forever cursed by association with the group after it disbands or, God help us all, end up empowered by the right-wing establishment, they'll still end up in jail once they outlive their usefulness. They're idiot cannon fodder for people more clever than themselves. Also, they don't allow masturbation. Never trust anyone outside of the clergy who doesn't allow masturbation.

AMANDA KERRI is a writer and comedian based in Oklahoma City. Follow her on Twitter @Amanda_Kerri.

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