Convictions of Conservatism

Submitted by saracblodgett on Thu, 01/23/2020 - 12:13 - 0 Comments

Reach as far as you can to the right, then reach further. This is where the alt-right group, the Proud Boys, stand. On their website, the banner across the top of the page reads "All Races, All Religions, Gay or Straight. To join Proud Boys you must be a man and you must love the West." This is a daring mission statement, considering that right wing aligning individuals are generalized to be a majority of straight, white, cisgender men. 

Throughout the website, there are different articles written and published by members of the group. Some discuss current or historical events (though founded in 2016, the Proud Boys have had a robust history), some discuss why the Proud Boys are such a good group for the members within it, and some are profiles of group members. In an uncategorized, anonymous article - not unlike a biography - a Proud Boy discusses his affiliation with the group. Most importantly are the questions of how he joined the group, and why. This specific individual begins his story by saying that he is "a member of a men's fraternity called the Proud Boy." A fraternity is literally defined as a group of people sharing a common profession or interests, which encapsulates the mindset of the Proud Boys. They are known to share far right wing values, but in addition to those core views, the Proud Boys also mark themselves as "anti-racist, anti-racial guilt, anti-fascist, anti-communist, anti-“political correctness”, pro-liberty and freedom, pro-guns, pro-prison reform, and absolutely pro-capitalist." Taking a step back and looking at each of those values one by one, without labeling them as "conservative values", it seems to make the Proud Boys look less terrible than the media has written them up to be. Their website just advertises them as an empowered group.

The values listed by the Proud Boy above are subjects to dive into. If someone were to look at each value individually and one stands out of place, that may be the insight that the reader needs to define the alt-right agenda.

The things that the Proud Boys stand against are as follows.

Racism. Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior. The Proud Boys do not specifically state that they believe they're of a superior race. According to a Proud Boys member in an article on their website, "If someone expresses racist views, they are expelled, the same is true with intolerance for sexuality or religious affiliation."

Racial guilt. The more appropriate term for this topic would be white guilt; a collective guilt felt by some white people for harm resulting from racist and poor treatment of ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples by other white people. The Proud Boys refuse to feel guilty for the population that they embody, but they don't want to use their whiteness as leverage over others either.

Fascism. A political philosophy that exalts nation and often race above the individual. It values for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social rules, and forcible suppression of opposition to power.

Communism. A political theory passed down from the ideals of Karl Marx, advocating for war between classes and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs. Communism is the polar opposite of socialism, but the ideals of communism work in tandem with fascism, ergo the disdain for communism and facism from the Proud Boys.

Political correctness. The avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.

Out of these things that the Proud Boys stand against, there is a contradiction. How can someone be against racism, but also against white guilt? White guilt seems to be an inherent quality within the white race, and to deny that fact seems to deny racial equality as well, not to deny racism. As well as these conflicting principles, political correctness doesn't seem to tie in with an opposition to racism, as many politically incorrect jokes are made through racist or sexist lenses. It is possible to value things that oppose each other, but valuing opposing ideals can create rifts within a group or movement.

Now, in the Proud Boys era, another group has risen - Patriot Prayer. Founded by Joey Gibson in 2016, Patriot Prayer was a group that was originally founded to bring right-winged, conservative folks together in places that they haven't always felt welcomed, like Portland and the Bay Area.

In a phone conversation with the head of Patriot Prayer himself, Gibson explained how he is less focused on the politics and more focused on religion. When asked about what his life is like as the leader of this group and what he does, Gibson said "I basically do a bunch of things, like now I lead prayer marches in Portland, I'll preach." Upon use of the word preach, the dictionary definition must surface. To preach is to deliver a sermon or religious address to an assembled group of people, typically in church. Gibson's prayer marches walk through downtown Portland, often times stopping at Pioneer Square and receiving backlash from their signs and messages. His preaching comes from the Bible, and a lot of the freedom that he wants to push for is religiously centered. People that don't agree with him tend to vocalize it in negative ways instead of asking to understand where he is coming from.

Another way that Gibson preaches with Patriot Prayer is by "Going around to different counties and try to push freedom at a local level…" and through traveling to new locations, "We just got one city council member elected in Battleground." When asked about what he means by local freedom, Gibson explained that he and Patriot Prayer want to uncover "the things that no one else wants to look into." He stated that he is always willing to talk to people if they want to talk to him, because he believes that civil discourse should occur before any other means of communication.

Taken from the interview with Gibson, he explains his mission statement. "A lot of it in the beginning was about Trump and things on the higher government level, but now I'm focusing more on God, focusing on spiritual things." He presses the issue of freedom on every level and wants to challenge the mindset of who can have freedom or who can't, and in Gibson's words, "I try to push freedom a lot, because freedom isn't political. It's not left or right, it's in the middle. Freedom is for everybody." 

With an air of freedom and being thankful, the mentality and actions of Patriot Prayer combat the seemingly more direct and violent motions of the Proud Boys. Both groups stemmed from the same love of traditional American values, which is why they're considered to be the same force of alt-right power, but the differences of ethical and moral character set the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer apart.

 

About the Author

saracblodgett's picture

I am a two sport varsity athlete, member and choreographer of Vivace, Lincoln's student run a cappella group, and I love to paint and write poetry. Class of 2020. Undercover cowgirl.