Commentary – Mindless and proud of it

Tom Henihan

You know you are in enlightened and progressive company when an item of clothing personifies a group’s political and social views. Few things can articulate profound, social ideology better than a polo shirt or pair of sneakers.

The “Proud Boys,” yet another manifestation of the alt-right emboldened in the wake of Trump’s election, are trying to paint themselves as the merry pranksters of the far right, a white supremacist faction using intimidation while spreading divisiveness and hate, all in the spirit of good fun.

The group’s claim to fame in Canada happened on Canada Day. A troupe of five Proud Boys wearing their signature polo shirts attempted to intimidate a group of First Nations women and others during a ceremony commemorating the Mi’kmaq people who died at the behest of the now infamous General Edward Cornwallis, the founder of Halifax and its first Lieutenant Governor.

Established by Gavin McInnes, England born, Ottawa raised and resident in the US, who describes the Proud Boys as a “Western chauvinist, men’s club,” though their name suggests they are just boys and proud of it.

Gavin McInnes, lacking the intellectual acumen or necessary talents to achieve worthy renown has decided to settle for notoriety by shooting his mouth off with racist vitriol and inanities.

According to the group’s Facebook page, in a time of globalism and multiculturalism they represent anti-political correctness and are “anti-racial guilt,” whatever that might be.

McInnes outlines the basic precepts of the group as “Western chauvinists, who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world,” and he insists that they must be overt and vocal in making their Western chauvinism known.

The group’s initiation ceremony involves, among other high-minded antics, taking a beating from fellow members while reciting the names of five breakfast cereals. Obviously, Western civilization and the defence of the modern world are safe in the highly evolved hands of the Proud Boys.

While their numbers are small right now, approximately one thousand members in the US, with no shortage of misguided, impressionable people who would like to wear a polo shirt that means something their membership could grow substantially.

The Proud Boys are sometimes called Alt-light and they do try to convince others that they are as benign the Elks Lodge or the Knights of Columbus. The truth is their views are insidious and their menacing, buffoonish behaviour is dangerous as they also have a penchant for inciting violent confrontations, always in self-defence of course.

As we know well by now, being a ridiculous, racist buffoon, does not exclude one from having influence or holding high office. Therefore, when faced with the spectre of the Proud Boys and the destructive nonsense they represent it would be a mistake to be complacent and to dismiss them off-hand as nothing more than a nuisance.

Evidently, they are a nuisance that deserves ridicule, and considering how open to derision their behaviour is, no one should miss an opportunity to indulge. Unfortunately, considering their limited, worldview and their pathetic initiation rites, the Proud Boys may be impervious to derision so more overt and vocal opposition may be called for.

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