The beauty of how the neo-Fash is on the run after Charlottesville is how those that tried to pretend they were not as fashy as the others can’t seem to shake the fashy rep, try as they might. Exhibit A.
In the wake of the events of Charlottesville, Proud Boy founder Gavin McInnis desperately backpedaled and equivocated, trying to distance himself and his organization from the white nationalist terrorism witnessed at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA this past Saturday. But unfortunately for Gavin, the internet never forgets.
The Proud Boys, like much of the alt-right, walk the line of evoking white nationalist and fascist imagery to appear edgy and contrarian. Their “alt-lite” status also provides ample opportunity to engage is street brawls with anti-racist protestors, which is one of the four requirements of full-fledged membership. The other requirements include publicly proclaiming you are a “proud boy,” getting beat-in while name cereal brands (because they are ironic, get it?), and, bizarrely, refraining from masturbation.
Like much of the alt-right, the Proud Boys leave themselves just enough plausible deniability. But plausible deniability blew up in McInnis’s face on August 12 when a man associated with Vanguard America drove his car at high speed into a group of anti-racist demonstrators and Charlottesville locals, killing one and injuring nineteen. But before anyone confuses the Proud Boys and Vanguard America, let’s be clear: they are not the same. They go to the same events and spout the same rhetoric. They wear matching polo shirts. But Vanguard America and the Proud Boys’ polo shirts are different colors.
A visitor to the Proud Boys’ website finds a statement from McInnis disavowing the Charlottesville rally. The by-line claims that it was posted two months ago. The statement proclaims that, “In a rare decision, Gavin McInnes has officially announced that the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA, scheduled on August 12th, has been disavowed.”
McInnis’s statement goes so far as to threaten to disavow Proud Boys who go to the rally and “rub elbows” with the racists there. McInnis conveniently fails to mention that the rally’s organizer, Jason Kessler, is himself a card-carrying Proud Boy. In a tweet on July 19, Kessler says, “The VA Proud Boys that care about defending Western Civilization and the people who built it will be at the #UniteTheRight, polo or no.”
Indeed, one prominent Proud Boy was there. Salvatore Cipolla of Oceanside, NY who is of Hispanic decsent, has been arrested several times this year alone for assault and disorderly conduct, most notably during an February appearance by Gavin McInnes at New York University where McInnes was chased out by antifa, and again in Boston during a rally where he attacked counterprotesters. He was one of the first persons to show up to Emancipation Park where the Unite the Right rally was being held.
On Aug. 17 however, a few days after the Unite the Right rally, Cipolla announced via Twitter that he was no longer a Proud Boy.
Just so everyone is clear I am no longer a proud boy
— Salvatore Cipolla (@Pterodactyliii) August 17, 2017
But at least McInnis disavowed the rally, right? Not so fast. Internet archive The Wayback Machine preserved the original “Proud Boys Official Statement on the Unite the Right Rally.” In the original statement, captured on July 20, 2017, the Proud Boys declare they will not be at the event as an organization but encourage individual members to attend. It goes on to proclaim, “This event isn’t ours, which is why our name is not on the flyer, but we wish them nothing but the best.”
The violence and terrorism of the Unite the Right rally has proven a public-relations disaster for the alt-right. Many probably wish they could simply erase past statements of support for the people and organizations responsible. Gavin McInnes tried to do exact that, but the Internet never forgets.