The Proud Boys Are Lapping Up the President’s Instruction to “Stand By”

“Trump basically said to go fuck them up!…this makes me so happy.”

A member of the neo-fascist group, the Proud Boys wears military gear at Delta Park in Portland.Photo by John Lamparski via Getty Images

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

When the president was asked to condemn white supremacists during Tuesday’s debate, Trump demured. Instead, his answer targeted leftwing violence and told the Proud Boys, a neofascist group that supports him, to “stand back and stand by.”

In their publicly viewable Telegram channels, the Proud Boys immediately responded to Trump’s words with an eruption of praise. “Stand by!!! PROUD BOYS ARE HEROES!!!” one member of a large channel wrote. “They begged him to stab us in the back and he didn’t,” another wrote in a different channel.

Dozens of other members of Proud Boy groups responded with waves of praise for Trump’s comment, approvingly and repeatedly quoting the phrase “stand back and stand by.” In one major group, the users made their pinned post an image of the words surrounding a golden wreath that the Proud Boys have taken as their logo.

Trump’s decision to not clearly condemn white supremacy and the Proud Boys in particular could have dangerous consequences. Proud Boys have already exhibited a pattern of violence by routinely assaulting protesters they see as not on their side, often without any physical provocation. According to the Daily BeastJoey Biggs, a Proud Boys leader, chimed in on the right-wing social media app Parler with his interpretation of the president’s remarks: “Trump basically said to go fuck them up!…this makes me so happy.”

Adjacent extremist groups could also take Trump’s refusal to disavow white supremacists as a tacit endorsement. The investigative news site Bellingcat recently reported on a leaked trove of chat messages shared by right-wing activists in Oregon. It includes a message from a user named Paige discussing when would be an appropriate time to use violence: “I’m waiting for the presidential go to start open firing.”

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate