The Grand Wizard…sorry, president of the United States horrified a lot of people Tuesday night with his astoundingly atrocious debate performance. Not everyone was plunged into a pit of existential despair, though, as the Proud Boys were celebrating the co-sign President Trump gave them during the debate.
NBC News reports that multiple social media accounts associated with the group have taken President Trump’s declaration to “stand back and stand by” as a rallying cry. The comment came after moderator Chris Wallace asked the candidates to condemn white supremacy, which, predictably, Trump did not do.
From NBC News:
Trump did not denounce any far-right or white supremacist groups, and he then pivoted to talk about antifa.
“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by, but I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left, because this is not a right-wing problem. This is a left-wing problem,” Trump said.
On the Proud Boys’ account on the social media app Telegram, the group appeared to take the statement as marching orders.
“Standing down and standing by sir,” the account wrote. The account then posted two videos of the answer, including one with the caption “God. Family. Brotherhood,” in which a man howled at the TV in response to Trump’s response.
The Proud Boys is an organization of white dudes who spent a little too much time on YouTube and decided to call themselves “western chauvinists.” The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has labeled them as violent, transphobic, Islamophobic, misogynistic, and nationalistic.
Essentially, it’s the Klan for millennials.
The group was seen marching alongside fellow far-right extremists during the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va. In recent weeks, they have mobilized in Portland, Ore., and staged anti-Black Lives Matter rallies, which I’m pretty certain were simply called Klan rallies back in the day.
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL, said Trump’s comment was “astonishing,” in a tweet.
“President Trump owes America an apology or an explanation,” he wrote. “Now.”
Politicians from both sides of the aisle have shared their reactions to Trump’s comment. When asked by a reporter if he was concerned about Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacy, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), the lone Black Republican senator, said, “I think he misspoke. I think he should correct it. If he doesn’t correct it, I guess he didn’t misspeak.”
I believe that roughly translates to “It is what it is,” which seems to be the standard response whenever Republicans are confronted with the president’s amoral fuckery.
Democratic politicians were harsher in their criticism of the president’s apparent shoutout to a far-right group. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) kept it simple, tweeting “Donald Trump was asked to condemn white supremacists tonight. He wouldn’t. He must be defeated.”
Democratic Oregon Gov. Kate Brown was emphatic in labeling the Proud Boys as a hate group. “Let’s be clear: The Proud Boys are white supremacists. Racism and hate are not forms of patriotism. The power is yours. Vote,” she tweeted.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), the Democratic candidate for vice president, tweeted “Donald Trump is not pretending to be anything other than what he is: someone who will not condemn white supremacists.”
Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden retweeted a screenshot a journalist captured showing multiple Proud Boy accounts ecstatic about Trump’s comment, with one such account saying “Trump basically said to go fuck them up! This makes me so happy.”
“This. This is Donald Trump’s America,” Biden tweeted.