Donald Trump told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” during the first presidential debate between himself and Joe Biden.
Donald Trump namechecked a far-right group that promotes and engages in political violence while failing to denounce white supremacy during Tuesday night’s first presidential debate.
The moment came about when moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News asked Trump the following question: “Are you willing 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?”
Chris Wallace asked President Trump during Tuesday's debate whether he was willing "to condemn white supremacists and militia groups."
"Proud Boys, stand back and stand by," he replied. "This is not a right-wing problem. This is left wing.”
— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 30, 2020
“Sure,” Trump initially said, before adding, “I’m prepared to do that, but I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing.”
After being pressed further by Joe Biden on the topic, Trump said, “What do you want to call them? Give me a name . . .who would you like me to condemn?”
In response, Biden said “Proud Boys,” to which Trump told the group to “stand back and stand by,” a statement that members of the far-right group have since celebrated.
Founded by VICE Media co-founder Gavin McInnes during the 2016 presidential election, the Proud Boys are a far-right group that promotes and engages in political violence. Although the organization has described itself as a fraternal group spreading an “anti-political correctness” and “anti-white guilt” agenda (the male-only group allows any man to join regardless of his race or sexual orientation as long as they “recognize that white men are not the problem”), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has labeled the Proud Boys a hate group. The Anti-Defamation League has also referred to them as “hard-core white supremacists.”
“Their disavowals of bigotry are belied by their actions: rank-and-file Proud Boys and leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists. They are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric. Proud Boys have appeared alongside other hate groups at extremist gatherings like the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville,” the SPLC said of the Proud Boys on its website.