Out MSNBC host Rachel Maddow joked about the right-wing extremist groups the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers on Tuesday night, telling her MSNBC colleague Lawrence O’Donnell that both groups’ names “sound really gay.”
Maddow, who hosts The Rachel Maddow Show, made the comments while discussing semantic infiltration, which is to adopt the same language as one’s enemies, weakening whatever argument is being made.
O’Donnell said that the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers were examples of semantic infiltration. For O’Donnell, the Proud Boys “have nothing to be proud of” and the Oath Keepers “don’t keep oaths that matter.”
Maddow provided an apt queer reading of the terms.
“I will say that with both of those groups, particularly the Proud Boys but also a little bit with the Oath Keepers, I always have found them to be inadvertently funny, those names, not only because they defy reality as you're describing them, but because they both sound really gay,” Maddow said.
She explained, “They both seem like they are referring to gay stuff, whether it is the Proud Boys in terms of gay Pride, or the Oath Keepers' thing if you've read a lot around the politics around gay marriage and about being able to say your I dos with your beloved. Both of those things, they have such a poorly derived sense of camp and understanding about American subcultural text that they both ended up naming themselves something that could have been a '90s affinity group of the Lesbian Avengers.”
The host concluded, “And so I've always felt like they're kind of playing themselves, but I am probably in the minority on that.”
Maddow signed a new contract with NBCUniversal earlier this year to eventually end her weeknight show and shift to producing more network specials.