Welcome to the Visu.News podcast, I’m Zach D Roberts and this week I’m chatting with Huffington Post reporter and author of a new book on the proud boys – Andy Campbell.
Much of the American public first learned of rightwing hate gang the Proud Boys after the infamous presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden in which Trump ordered them to “stand back and stand by.” But they were terrorizing communities for years before that. Andy Campbell is one of the few reporters who have been covering the Proud Boys from day one. In his superb new book, We Are Proud Boys: How a Right-Wing Street Gang Ushered in a New Era of American Extremism, Campbell lays out everything you need to know about the gang that helped organize a coup attempt in Washington, D.C. on January 6.
Campbell started out at Huffington Post as a crime reporter. He moved to politics in 2016 and, as with many journalists covering Trump, his job shifted into covering far-right extremism. “The Proud Boys stuck out right from the beginning as something more concerning than the other guys,” Campbell told me when I interviewed him for the article below. He was right, of course, and unlike a lot of the media in those days, he covered them with the skepticism that they deserved.
Generous media profiles of the Proud Boys’ cool hipster co-founder Gavin McInnes, who also co-founded Vice magazine, made the rounds on the Internet. Many journalists allowed him to promote the gang on their airwaves and websites as a “drinking club with a patriotism problem.” Unfortunately for the nation, these profiles ignored his regular calls for violence along the way, something that We Are Proud Boys documents extensively.
The story of the Proud Boys wouldn’t be complete without discussing Trump’s boogeyman: antifa. Campbell’s book, in chronicling the far right, also features interviews with some of the people who investigated and infiltrated the organization at a time when law enforcement was defending them at Black Lives Matter protests.
We Are Proud Boys does the tough job of delving into the origins and myths that bolstered the gang, including the odd and cruel story behind the source of its name (it’s from the Aladdin musical, but you’ll need to read the book for the messed up part). Even if you’re already familiar with the Proud Boys, this book is a riveting read that reminds you of all the times that we could have stopped them.
Read the interview at The Progressive.