By Jason Taylor
After a speaking engagement at New York University (NYU) in early February was marred by violence, Gavin McInnes — leader of the Proud Boys (PB), a “fraternity” of “western chauvinists” — appeared on Newsmax TV’s “The Steve Malzberg Show.”
McInnes told Malzberg, “It was a really fun night, and overall I cannot recommend violence enough. It is a really effective way to solve problems.”
Beyond the obvious ignorance of such a statement — especially when now viewed against the August 12 racist rally-turned-riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, — McInnes has done much to perpetuate both the motivating animus and the viral capacity of political violence since President Trump’s election, including publishing videos on Rebel Media such as “Fighting ‘Anti-Fascists’ is Fun!” Violence is even built into the structure of the Proud Boys hierarchy; the highest level of membership in McInnes’ organization, called a “Fourth Degree,” can only be achieved once a member has engaged in violence with anti-fascists.
And last January, a video of McInnes went viral after he was filmed punching and shoving a counter-protestor outside of the Deploraball held in Washington, D.C.
But in recent months, the tides have begun to shift against McInnes and his fraternity.
Shipping Up to Boston — Or Not
McInnes is waffling on his endorsement of violence after the chaos that unfolded at “Unite the Right” in Charlottesville. The maelstrom left 35 injured and one dead after a rally participant drove his car into a crowd of people, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
McInnes canceled his own appearance at a rally set for Boston last weekend, blaming the city’s mayor for changing the “context” while ignoring that he presides over a group that has melded the fetishizing of political violence into its identity, one that is supposedly ready to fight their opposition at such rallies. His theory that the city’s mayor would allow his fellow demonstrators to be attacked was laid bare — 30,000 to 40,000 counter-demonstrators dwarfed a hodgepodge of right-wing rally goers during a largely peaceful day.
His Boston cancellation was announced Monday, after reminding his Twitter followers on Saturday that the Proud Boys had “disavowed” — and after he had previously appeared to walk back his initial disavowing — the Alt-Right and all other attendees of “Unite the Right.” McInnes statements are designed to put clear space between his group and the racist right, as some in the media and blogosphere have questioned the true nature of the PB.