Republicans are refusing to disavow the pro-Trump 'Proud Boys' group responsible for a vicious mob-style attack this weekend in New York.
Republicans have responded with deafening silence after an estimated 30 members of the violent pro-Trump "Proud Boys" group were caught on video Friday night unleashing a brutal assault on multiple individuals following an event at the Metropolitan Republican Club in Manhattan.
Even as the New York Police Department (NYPD) announced Monday that charges are expected to be brought against nine members of the far-right group, Republicans continued to turn a blind eye to the violence, while the GOP establishment that hosted Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes defended its decision to invite the leader of an SPLC designated hate group to speak at the Republican headquarters.
The violence broke out Friday night after McInnes delivered a performance at the Metropolitan Republican Club that included him re-enacting the assassination of a Japanese socialist party leader at the hands of a sword-wielding far-right nationalist. Following the bizarre staging of a political assassination, McInnes gave a speech "making fun of" liberals and the media, and ranting about everything from PC culture to the evils of socialism.
A short time after the event ended, a group of approximately 30 attendees — most of whom were wearing the official Proud Boys uniform consisting of a Fred Perry shirt, khaki pants, and, more often than not, a MAGA hat — were filmed carrying out mob-style attacks against two or three separate individuals on the streets of New York City.
The assailants can be heard yelling homophobic slurs and threats during the brutal assault, while others bragged about kicking a "foreigner" in the head.
At one point, the mob of men clad in MAGA hats broke out into chants of "I like beer," apparently in reference to Brett Kavanaugh's defense of his excessive drinking habits during his younger years.
After video of the vicious attack went viral on social media, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on the state police hate crimes unit and the FBI to join the NYPD in investigating the violence. He also slammed the GOP for inviting the leader of a hate group to speak at their New York City headquarters.
"Why would the Republican Party at their main club invite the Proud Boys?” Cuomo asked during a call with reporters on Sunday. He referred to the decision to invite McInnes as a "political tactic" deployed by Republicans to "fire up their base," and pointed to Trump's role in creating an environment that fosters such violence.
New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood has also called for further investigation into the Proud Boys and the violent mob attack they carried out on Friday, which is par for the course for the far-right group.
Since the group was founded in 2016, the Proud Boys have regularly engaged in acts of violence from coast to coast, including another incident in Portland, Oregon, just a day after the violence in New York this weekend.
But that apparently doesn't bother the GOP, since the extremists support them.
Despite widespread outcry and irrefutable evidence of the assault, Trump and the Republican Party have thus far refused to condemn the pro-Trump group responsible for the violence. Meanwhile, Trump's allies at Fox News have alternated between completely ignoring the mob violence at times, and blaming it on Democrats at other times.
And for their part, the Metropolitan Republican Club, which has established itself as a mainstream Republican institution for more than a century, is actually defending its decision to host McInnes and his far-right acolytes, writing off the group's extremism as little more than a joke.
None of this should come as a surprise, of course. Groups like the Proud Boys have been increasingly welcomed into the fold as the Republican Party has been consumed by Trumpism over the past two years. As Buzzfeed put it, "Friday’s events offer a microcosm of the disorienting speed of change inside the Republican Party in the age of Trump, as emboldened extremist groups take traditional Republican and American political institutions by storm."
This is reflected in the activity of neo-Nazi, white supremacist, and other extremist hate groups, which have flourished under the Trump administration. In 2017, the number of neo-Nazi groups grew from 99 to 121, and anti-Muslim organizations increased from 101 chapters to 114.
In a particularly startling trend, researchers have documented a rise in new extremist groups, with the most intense surge seen among hate groups closely aligned with Trump. The Proud Boys are included in this new class of extremist groups that have openly embraced Trump and celebrated his administration's hands-off approach to far-right extremism.
Last weekend's violence is just the latest example of the newly emboldened extremist elements in Trump's America. In the past year, white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups have taken to the streets for marches and rallies, clearly not fearing any backlash or condemnation from the White House. With Trump as president, extremists are no longer ashamed to show their faces, nor are they shy about taking to the streets and, all too often, engaging in public acts of violence.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, 2017 was the fifth deadliest year on record for extremist violence in America, with the number of white supremacist murders doubling from the previous year.
All of this occurs against the backdrop of a bogus narrative about violent "left-wing mobs" that has emerged ahead of midterms as the go-to scare tactic for Trump, Republican leadership, and their allies in right-wing media. Just last week, Trump warned his supporters at a rally that if they don't vote for Republicans in November, they'll be giving power to an "angry, left-wing mob."
He was right about one thing: There is, indeed, an angry mob out there. Just look for the sea of MAGA hats.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.