Common Dreams - September 30, 2020

"Trump's open appeals to white supremacists and his dangerous rhetoric show that this president will do or say anything in his increasingly desperate bid to hold onto power."
—Bend the Arc: Jewish Action

Members of the Proud Boys are rejoicing after President Donald Trump gave the far-right organization a shout-out and marching orders during Tuesday night's nationally televised debate, heightening fears that the president is deliberately rallying extremist groups and stirring up white supremacist violence as part of his frantic effort to remain in power.

The Daily Beast reported Wednesday morning that one Proud Boys leader readily interpreted Trump's comments as instructions to commit violence against the president's political opponents. "Trump basically said to go fuck them up!" wrote Joey Biggs after the president told the Proud Boys, a group that openly embraces violence, to "stand back and stand by." 

"This makes me so happy," Biggs added, a celebratory reaction that was echoed by members of the extremist organization on the social media and messaging apps they commonly use, such as Telegram and Parler. One Proud Boys member claimed Trump's comments prompted a surge in "new recruits."

Refusing to condemn white supremacists when given an opportunity to do so by debate moderator Chris Wallace, the president said, "I'll tell you what, somebody's got to do something about antifa and the left."

Shortly following Trump's comments, which were widely condemned by civil rights organizations, one of the Proud Boys' social media accounts incorporated the president's words into a graphic with the far-right group's logo:

the Proud Boys just made Trump's encouraging words for them -- uttered during a national televised debate -- into a graphic with their logo

the Proud Boys just made Trump's encouraging words for them -- uttered during a national televised debate -- into a graphic with their logo

Progressive advocacy group Bend the Arc: Jewish Action said in a statement late Tuesday that Trump's remarks were the "words of a scared wannabe fascist , not a president—and Jewish Americans see right through him."

"Trump has repeatedly made it clear that he considers violent white supremacists to be a valued part of his base, even after people are murdered," the group added. "He doesn't just enable white supremacy; it's his platform. Trump's open appeals to white supremacists and his dangerous rhetoric show that this president will do or say anything in his increasingly desperate bid to hold onto power." 

Report via Common Dreams