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Extremist group Proud Boys’ ‘elastic set of core beliefs’ make it more acceptable to conservative mainstream, CSUSB professor says
The Washington Post
Sept. 27, 2020
Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, was interviewed for an article about the extremist group Proud Boys, which has been associated with white nationalist rhetoric and has a reputation for sparking fights with the far left. The group held a rally in Portland, Ore., on Sept. 26.
Levin said the Proud Boys emerged from the violent August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., mostly intact because they have an elastic set of core beliefs that make them more palatable to a larger swath of the conservative mainstream.
Saturday’s peaceful, PR-friendly gathering was another means of making the Proud Boys appear acceptable. Levin likened it to how Proud Boys latch on to “socially acceptable” controversies that appeal to a broader swath of the right, such as cities removing Confederate monuments or not censoring political speech.
“It’s a new twist on something vile. And where they stake their claim, they’re smart enough to anchor themselves in hatred that can be kind of laughed away in sociopolitical discourse, like horrible misogyny as well as slightly shrouded bigotry,” he said. “They like throwing themselves out of helicopters. It’s a sad reflection that the violence and bigotry that is acceptable to the Proud Boys in a kind of amplified manner is really tolerated and in some ways lauded in some parts of the fringe mainstream.”
Read the complete article at “The Proud Boys avoided violence in Portland, an attempt to make their group more palatable
CSUSB professor provides his assessment of Proud Boys extremist group
The Washington Post
Sept. 25, 2020
The day before the Proud Boys – started as “a provocative club for men who love America but hate political correctness” but now viewed by many as an alt-right extremist group – held a rally in Portland, Ore., the newspaper included an assessment of the group by Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
The newspaper reported, “The group latches onto controversial causes that larger segments of the right embrace — such as unwavering support for police, Islamophobia and fighting the removal of Confederate statues. But the Proud Boys also use coded language and irreverent humor to mask beliefs that are more sinister. Proud Boys networks spent the past week spreading memes and videos mocking the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”
That nuanced stance has allowed the Proud Boys to grow even as other groups were vilified following the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Levin said. “When you mix a combination of the shrouded and overt bigotry along with their propensity for violence and showing up at the most incendiary events, it really is a significant and growing risk,” he said. “It’s especially volatile when you overlay this political season where the election is considered a battleground in a civil war.”
Read the complete article at “Thousands of Proud Boys plan to rally in Portland, setting up another clash in a combustible city.”
The quote was also used in a Forbes profile of the group on Sept. 26, “Who are the Proud Boys, the group planning a controversial Portland rally?”
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