By Andrew Malekoff
In the first presidential debate on Sept. 29 in Cleveland, Ohio, President Donald Trump stoked white supremacist violent aggression by telling hate groups to be on the ready for orders from the commander-in-chief.
He didn’t say that in so many words, rather in these five words – “stand back and stand by.” This was his response after Fox News debate moderator Chris Wallace asked him if he would denounce such groups.
One such group known as the Proud Boys, openly celebrated as if all they ever dreamed and hoped for came true.
Elon University professor Megan Squire who monitors online extremism said that those five words satisfied a long-awaited fantasy for white supremacist groups. She told NBC News that, “They were pro-Trump before this shout-out, and they are absolutely over the moon now”.
The Proud Boys are a violent, nationalistic, Islamophobic, transphobic and misogynistic hate group, according to the Anti-Defamation League who track extremist groups in the U.S.
In a video clip that I discovered on Twitter, Gavin McInness described the group he founded this way: “We will kill you – that’s the Proud Boys in a nutshell.” Furthermore, he added, “We need more violence from the Trump people.”
In response to the president’s dog whistle/call to action, a number of people who identify themselves with the Proud Boys posted this response to Trump on their social media pages: “Standing down and standing by sir”. This is in spite of the fact that Trump later claimed not to know who they are.
Trump apologists like Republican Tim Scott, the first African-American senator to be elected from the deep South since 1881, tried to walk back Trump’s signal to radical right hate groups by claiming that he misspoke.
What any person who has not been brainwashed knows, is that the President did not misspeak. His message was clear, concise and consistent with past statements he has made that have emboldened and animated white supremacist groups. It was not a misstatement. It was an order and an echo of Charlottesville.
As a result of these five words, it is likely that U.S. intelligence personnel have now been activated to assume overtime shifts to guard against an escalation in organized white supremacist violence.
Especially in the wake of the coming election that the president has repeatedly stated is likely to be rigged if he loses, despite all evidence to the contrary according to FBI Director Chris Wray in his recent testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee.
Wray also testified that “racially motivated violent extremism” by white supremacist groups represent most of the domestic terrorism threats we face in the United States.
“Stand back and stand by” was no idle threat. It was a call to arms.
Please be vigilant, my fellow Americans.
Andrew Malekoff is a New York State licensed clinical social worker