tags: Press Releases

Trump and the Proud Boys, the dark side of U.S. history

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Washington, DC – Below is a column by Maribel Hastings and David Torres from America’s Voice en Español translated to English from Spanish. It ran in several Spanish-language media outlets earlier this week: 

It’s to be expected that in these twisted times in which we are living, the twenty-two year sentence for the former leader of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, for seditious conspiracy after the January 6, 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol will prompt the extremist group to add to its followers, and even extend its tentacles throughout the country

In fact, it’s a natural reaction among those who feel “offended” because an unfriendly provocateur got what he deserved under the law; and it doesn’t matter that he is of Hispanic origin. What’s most important is that Tarrio represents a living reflection of a segment of the population that deifies extremism and violence over everything.

Something similar is occurring with Donald J. Trump. However many criminal charges he faces, 91 as of this writing, stemming from four separate cases, the more support he receives from his followers and the more money is added to his coffers for his campaign to be the Republican presidential nominee in 2024.

For example, the most recent CNN poll shows that 52% prefer the former president, compared with the Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, who only receives 18% support. That is, there is now a 34-point difference between the two most anti-immigrant presidential aspirants in recent U.S. history.

In fact, the Proud Boys were surging in 2016 in the midst of Trump’s ascent—not only to the Republican nomination but also the presidency. The group has defended the ex-president so vigorously that the prosecutor in the case against the organization’s leaders called them “Trump’s army.”

The EFE wire, via El Nuevo Herald, wrote that “the latest available data from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), which compiles information in real time about incidents of political violence, indicate that the Proud Boys’ activity in July fell some 75%, compared to June of this year.” This in the midst of the sentencing of other group leaders for their roles in the January 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol. 

However, the story adds, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) “warns that the group is not in the process of disappearing, but rather restructuring.” SPLC has signaled that the neofascist group is “diversifying itself” and opening more chapters than ever across the country. 

In other words, running through the wrong side of history seems to be the destiny of those who have opted to back those that reflect the worst of what one of the most powerful nations in the world has produced, and whose arrogance, narcissism, extremism, and lack of respect for the law have become the new values of their group of idolizers.

Let’s not forget that the attempted coup d’etat on January 6 had the objective of avoiding the certification of Joe Biden as the legitimately elected president of the United States because Trump and his enablers propagated the lie that the election had been “stolen” from them. Trump incited the mob, including the Proud Boys, to attack the Capitol, later promising them pardons if he becomes president again in 2024.

And this is where we find ourselves, in the shadow of another election, and it seems like nothing has been learned. Because the Republican Party’s base favors a person who would be considered a criminal in any league.

Essentially, an individual with 91 criminal charges is the favorite in the polls, and by a lot. He controls his party’s message on various fronts, including immigration, to the degree that Republican congress members from the extreme right are threatening to close the government if the operational funding bill doesn’t include their migration demands, including construction of the ridiculous wall along the border, and that the effort to impeach President Biden be brought to a vote. 

Because at bottom, the line between violent extremists like the Proud Boys and the rest of the Republican Party is no longer distinguishable. In fact, those Republicans were the same ones who delayed condemning the January 6 assault; they are the ones who continue propagating the lie of the “stolen” election; and they are the ones who continue to insist Trump is being “politically persecuted,” despite all of the compelling evidence about his role.

They are wrong. The privileges that an anti-immigrant person like Donald Trump, who receives more millions of dollars in assistance with each charge he is accused of, are nothing compared to the difficult conditions that people who have truly been politically persecuted by regimes that apply terror as the norm. Conditions that caused many to abandon their countries, with no other option but to search for refuge in other latitudes, including the United States, where—paradoxically—the businessman wants to be president, again.

To read the Spanish version of this column click here.