The Proud Boys Implode
By Melissa Ryan
Tough times for the Proud Boys whose organization has been slowly imploding, in real time, and online for all of us to see.
On Thanksgiving eve Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes released a YouTube video disassociating himself with the group. Apparently, this was on the advice of his lawyers who said that quitting would help the organization and its members who are facing criminalcharges for a violent brawl in Manhattan, outside of McInnes’ speech to the Metropolitan Republican Club.
The fall out from the Manhattan brawl has dealt a real blow to the organization’s infrastructure. Facebook has taken down Proud Boys affiliated pages, several members have been identified by anti-fascist groups and some have been fired from their jobs. PayPal has kicked them off their platform, cutting off a funding stream. Not to mention the negative press, and Google searches for the group’s name (and McInnes) which will forever be a dumpster fire.
I watched the McInnes video (all 36 minutes of it!) and was struck by how much it felt like a throwback to pre-Charlottesville alt-right rhetoric. McInnes wants you to know that he isn’t a racist and the Proud Boys aren’t alt-right or a hate group. It’s all a joke you see! White Supremacists and Nazis don’t actually exist. They’re a fantasy of social justice warriors, which is why it’s cool to make jokes about them and use hateful slurs. McInnes even has a montage of himself interviewing people of color and Orthodox Jews on his podcast, complete with cheesy music! Even the name is a joke, a play on a musical that McInnes hated. This kind of rhetoric, so common before Trump’s election, feels out of place even among the far right these days. Most of them don’t really bother with the theater of irony anymore. It isn’t necessary now that the GOP has wholly adopted them into the fold so it’s weird that McInnes stuck so closely to that old playbook in his swan song.
McInnes’ exit probably won’t help the Proud Boys recover. The next appointed leader Jason Lee Van Dyke had his own troubled history similar to McInnes’. The leadership team, an initially anonymous group calling themselves “The Elders” unveiled a new set of rules aimed meant to help the group’s image and managed to doxx themselves in the release ending their own anonymity in the process. Van Dyke’s tenure was incredibly short. On Thursday The Elders released a statement saying he’d been kicked out of the group!
Amidst all of this drama, two more members were arrested and charged for their role in the October NYC attack.
McInnes hasn’t helped himself either. He was due to travel to Australiafor a speaking tour in February, but after more than 81,000 people signed a petition to Australia’s parliament calling on the government to deny him entry into the country, he was denied.
It’s worth noting that for all McInnes and the Proud Boys’ problems, few elected Republicans have bothered to distance themselves from the group or denounce them. Even the news that the FBI designated the Proud Boys as a hate group, hasn’t spurred any elected Republicans to take a stand.
HOPE not hate: Silicon Valley’s Dark Enlightenment? Neoreactionaries and The World of Tech
By Simon Murdoch
“In the early hours of 9 November 2016, whilst much of the world watched in disbelief at the election of a candidate wearing bigotry as a badge of electoral credibility, an obscure Silicon Valley computer programmer came to learn that the billionaire tech magnate with whom he was watching the events unfold, was “fully enlightened”. […] But what, in the San Franciscan mansion of a man who reportedly aided the President Elect’s vetting of new staff to the federal government did this programmer conclude the tech magnate was enlightened about exactly?”
Commentators have speculated a great deal about rumblings of far-right support under the surface of Silicon Valley’s saccharine liberal veneer, but few have dug into what exactly lies at their roots. Get to the heart of the matter here.
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- Oxford Internet Institute’s Computational Propaganda Project and Graphika are out with a new study that maps climate change dialog on Twitter and Facebook. Spoiler alert: they found a lot less disinformation than we’ve come to expect from reports like these.
- The London School of Economics’ Truth, Trust and Technology Commission published its report earlier this week, Tackling the Information Crisis: A Policy Framework for Media System Resilience. Though focused on the UK, the reports analysis of the ‘five giant evils’ of our “information crisis” – “confusion, cynicism, fragmentation, irresponsibility and apathy” – will be of interest to many.
- A study by Media Matters’ Natalie Martinez into social media activity surrounding the ‘Migrant Caravan’ found that a majority of viral coverage came “from right-leaning sources, which frequently pushed anti-immigrant disinformation”.
- “Crying Nazi” Christopher Cantwell uses Gab to threaten reporter covering Charlottesville trial (Mic)
- How The Right’s Fascination With Hillary’s Emails Pushed It Towards Wikileaks (Talking Points Memo)
- The ‘Good Guy With the Gun’ Is Never Black (Rolling Stone)
- Holocaust-Denying Senate Candidate Banned From Gab Still Operates Freely On YouTube, Twitter (Huffington Post)
- Memo from a ‘Facebook nation’ to Mark Zuckerberg: You moved fast and broke our country. (Recode)
- Top Civil Rights Groups Call For “Immediate Steps” From Facebook To Rebuild Faith Among Its Black Employees And Users (Buzzfeed)
- The New Radicalization of the Internet (The New York Times)
- Protecting Nazi Speech Doesn’t Protect Free Speech (CNN)
- Why is Populism Booking? Today’s Tech is Partly to Blame (The Guardian)
- Data Shows Tucker Carlson is the Daily Stormer’s Favorite Pundit (Buzzfeed)
I wrote about the increase in far-right violence in America and what we should be doing about it for The Progressive.
HOPE not hate has a new book out on Holocaust denial. Rewriting History: Lying, Denying & Revising The Holocaust. It’s a worthwhile read and a good place to start if you’re trying to wrap your head around the rise in anti-Semitism we’re seeing. Purchase the ebook version here.
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That’s a wrap. Talk to you next week!