The Proud Boys, a group that, as I wrote here at Oakland News Now is “seen as a racist, alt-right group that was founded in 2016 by Gavin McInnes, the Vice Media co-founder. The group has rapidly formed a reputation for violent protest, and have a nickname “The Right Wing Brawlers,” walking into bars and starting fights.” But a member of a spin-off group called the “Bay Area Proud Boys” called in response to the first post at Oakland News Now, because he was “shocked” at the depiction of the organization he's associated with.
“We're not at all what you're saying in your article,” the man who did not wish to be identified explained. “We're husbands, fathers, friends, responsible members of the community. We believe in helping people, and we're all about being the best men we can be. We have all kinds of people as members, black, Asian, I'm Mexican American.”
At that we had a very good and wide-ranging conversation. My main question to him was why meet at all? The Bay Area Proud Boys Member explained that “We're not meeting at Make Westing. I don't know where that came from.” I asked if he looked at the Make Westing Facebook Page, and he said he did, but he doesn't know what's up because there was no plan to go there. And about the racism image?
The caller said “We don't at all condone racism or sexism or that stuff. We have engineers and they would not be in the group if that (racism and sexism) was going on. We help people raise money. We help the homeless. We're not out there causing trouble,” he said. “The only thing is we … believe in protecting the flag.” I reminded him that flag protest is in itself an American right and tradition. “I know,” he said, “we protect the first amendment.”
In sum, if the The Bay Area Proud Boys and The Proud Boys are what my caller says, then there should be no problem, right? But the reality is the Southern Poverty Law Center has The Proud Boys listed as a racist hate group, and so if the The Bay Area Proud Boys are associated with The Proud Boys, how the heck is anyone supposed to know they're not a collection of bad dudes to have issues with blacks and Latinos?
The caller agreed they had to do a much better job of getting out the word of what they were really about. What I explained to bim is that life is far more complicated than black and white, and that we need to focus on bringing people together and not sending out messages that rip people apart from each other.
In closing, I have to note that the caller was a Donald Trump supporter. Does President Trump know about The Proud Boys?