Malacandra.me

The Red Hats and the party

The Red Hats and the party

by digby

Just a little something to think about:

Nine members of the far-right Proud Boys group and three protesters are facing riot and assault charges after a street brawl between them Friday night in New York.

The fight wasn’t a random clash, though: The Proud Boys were in Manhattan thanks to an invite from the Metropolitan Republican Club.

In a speech at the club, which was vandalized before the event, Proud Boys leader Gavin McInnes waved a sword at anti-fascist protesters and celebrated the assassination of a socialist Japanese politician. McInnes, a Vice co-founder, dressed up as the Japanese assassin who killed the politician, complete with glasses that made his eyes into a racist caricature of a Japanese person’s eyes.

It was a bizarre event to host at the GOP’s Manhattan clubhouse, but the Metropolitan Republican Club defended McInnes and the Proud Boys after the fight. In a statement released Sunday, the club said McInnes’ speech “was certainly not inciting violence.”

The Republican club’s role hosting the event highlights how the Proud Boys have managed to insinuate themselves with mainstream Republicans, even as they increasingly make the news for their violence. But the New York Republicans aren’t alone—the Proud Boys have already managed to make their way into other mainstream GOP campaign events and conservative media.

Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart and Devin Nunes have posed for pictures with Proud Boys on the campaign trail. Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson posed in a Fox green room with two Proud Boys and Republican operative Roger Stone earlier this year.


“The skinheads, for example, would become functional equivalents of Hitler’s SA and Mussolini’s squadristi only if they aroused support instead of revulsion.”

— Historian Robert Paxton


Fascist skinhead groups have wreaked havoc in the U.S. for decades, but scholars of fascism have noted that those groups pose limited political threats—unless a mainstream political party embraces them.

“The skinheads, for example, would become functional equivalents of Hitler’s SA and Mussolini’s squadristi only if they aroused support instead of revulsion,” historian Robert Paxton writes in his 2004 book The Anatomy of Fascism. “If important elements of the conservative elite begin to cultivate or even tolerate them as weapons against some internal enemy, such as immigrants, we are approaching Stage Two” of what he identifies as fascist insurgency.

The Proud Boys, which have a paramilitary wing, have already proved willing to act as strongmen for Stone, and GOP stalwarts like the Metropolitan Republican Club have already proved willing to host the group.

We are a long way from the kind of streetfighting we saw in fascist Italy. But they started small too.

And I would just point out that there is another worrisome aspect of all this: