“The Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left,” said President Trump.
By Josh Plank, World Israel News
The internet has been abuzz with accusations of white supremacy after President Donald Trump mentioned the group Proud Boys in Tuesday night’s presidential debate, but not everyone agrees that the Proud Boys are racist.
“Gotta say: the Proud Boys aren’t white supremacists,” tweeted Wilfred Reilly, a black professor at Kentucky State University and the author of the book Hate Crime Hoax.
“They call themselves ‘Western chauvinists,’ but their leader is Enrique Tarrio, a Black Cuban guy,” Reilly said.
He also noted that people of color make up approximately 15 percent of Proud Boys membership.
“It’s not a white supremacy group as the media reports,” Michelle Lubin Terris, founder and president of Jexit, said in a Facebook post.
Terris said that the Proud Boys support her organization, which encourages Jews to leave the Democrat Party, and have even worked security at Jexit events.
She described the Proud Boys as “pro USA” and “pro law enforcement,” and said they are against Antifa, rioters, looters, and communism.
In fact, the Proud Boys have stood with Jewish groups in the past.
In August 2019, the Detroit Jewish News reported that Proud Boys members joined Jewish counter-protesters at a Close the Camps rally at the Farmington Hills Holocaust Memorial Center.
Rabbi Aryeh Spero, president of the Conference of Jewish Affairs and a speaker at the counter-protest, said of the Proud Boys, “I think a lot of them are not aligned with fascist groups.”
“There are a lot of different chapters and to be fair to them, you have to judge them based on their particular chapter,” he said.
One Proud Boys member was shown at the counter-protest carrying a sign that read, “Anti-Semite Left (Commies), go home! Proud to defend Jews.”
However, not everyone views the Proud Boys in a positive light.
The American Jewish Committee tweeted, “There can be no ambiguity on this issue. White supremacists should not just be told to ‘stand by’ – they need to be renounced completely.”
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), tweeted, “It’s astonishing that, when asked a simple question, will you condemn white supremacists, @POTUS responded – ‘The Proud Boys should stand back and stand by.'”
Greenblatt said that Trump “owes America an apology or an explanation. Now.”
On their website, the ADL acknowledges that “the Proud Boys often publicly denounce white supremacy,” but also says, “their activity has attracted white supremacists who share the group’s opposition to progressive politics and proclivity for violence.”
Proud Boys Chairman Enrique Tarrio said on Parler, “I am not taking this as a direct endorsement from the President. He did an excellent job and was asked a VERY pointed question.”
“The question was in reference to WHITE SUPREMACY… which we are not,” Enrique said.
Trump told reporters on Wednesday, “I don’t know who Proud Boys are, but whoever they are, they have to stand down. Let law enforcement do their work.”
Chris Wallace: "Are you willing, tonight, to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down…"
Trump: "Proud Boys, stand back and stand by! But I'll tell you what, somebody's got to do something about antifa and the left." pic.twitter.com/4vrPocKzcu
— Axios (@axios) September 30, 2020
At the presidential debate on Tuesday night, Chris Wallace asked Trump, “Are you willing, tonight, to condemn white supremacists and militia groups, and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities as we saw in Kenosha, and as we’ve seen in Portland?”
Trump said, “Sure, I’m willing to do that.”
After a brief exchange, Trump asked, “Who would you like me to condemn?”
“The Proud Boys,” said Democrat candidate Joe Biden.
Trump replied “The Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left, because this is not a right-wing problem, this is a left-wing problem.”
Shortly after Trump’s answer, Tarrio changed the name of his Parler account to “Enrique Tarrio Standing By.”