A white supremacist group pledged allegiance to Trump on Tuesday night after during the first presidential debate when he dog whistled to them saying,
“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by…”
Trumps’ comments immediately drew widespread condemnation on social media.
Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour, tweeted ,
“It was a remarkable moment for the commander in chief as white supremacy is seen by national security experts as a threat to national security.”
David French, a conservative commentator who has been critical of Trump, said,
“In a nation wracked by unrest, that was one of the most irresponsible and reprehensible statements I’ve ever seen from a president.”
Democratic politicians also weighed in. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown tweeted,
“Let’s be clear: The Proud Boys are white supremacists.
Racism and hate are not forms of patriotism.”
Trump was asked by debate moderator Chris Wallace to disavow white supremacy during a part of the debate focused on race. Wallace asked whether Trump would urge white supremacist groups that inflamed violence at nationwide protests to “stand down.”
Many people on social media who identify with the group echoed the language and one known account for the group made “Stand back. Stand by” part of its new logo.
Trump said to “give me a name” when asked to denounce a specific group, and former Vice President Joe Biden called out the Proud Boys.
“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by…
but 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.”
On the Proud Boys’ account on the social media app Telegram, the group appeared to take the statement as marching orders writing,
“Standing down and standing by sir.”
The account then posted two videos of the answer, including one with the caption “God. Family. Brotherhood,” with man howling at the TV in response to Trump’s response.
Megan Squire, a computer science professor at Elon University in North Carolina who tracks online extremism, said Trump’s giving the Proud Boys orders was their long-sought dream. Squire said,
“To say Proud Boys are energized by this is an understatement.
They were pro-Trump before this shoutout, and they are absolutely over the moon now. Their fantasy is to fight antifa in his defense, and he apparently just asked them to do just that.”
According to NBC News,
The Proud Boys, are considered a violent, nationalistic, Islamophobic, transphobic and misogynistic hate group, according to the Anti-Defamation League, a nonprofit organization that tracks extremist groups.
Proud Boys members marched at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and have organized against Black Lives Matter protests in recent months.
The group recently staged a rally in Portland, Oregon, in support of Trump. About 200 people, some armed with guns, attended the rally, short of the expectations of thousands.
Proud Boys organizer Joe Biggs posted after the debate that Trump,
“basically said to go fuck them up.”
President Trump told the proud boys to stand by because someone needs to deal with ANTIFA… well sir! we’re ready!!”
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a tweet that the president’s answer was “astonishing” saying,
“President Trump owes America an apology or an explanation…
Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey tweeted:
“Donald Trump was asked to condemn white supremacists tonight. He wouldn’t. He must be defeated.”
Biden commented on the Proud Boys reaction, responding to a journalist who tweeted out a screenshot of the group celebrating the mention.
“This. This is Donald Trump’s America,”
This. This is Donald Trump’s America. https://t.co/wld2mmGTwe— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 30, 2020
There’s no other way to put it: the President of the United States refused to disavow white supremacists on the debate stage last night. pic.twitter.com/Q3VZTW1vUV— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 30, 2020
(Photos, YouTube; via NBC News)