Trump tells Proud Boys to ‘Stand back and stand by’

Trump tells Proud Boys to ‘Stand back and stand by’

Natalie Bartelt, staff writer

During the first presidential debate on September 29, on the subject of racist extremism, President Donald Trump was asked to denounce the Proud Boys, a male-only far-right group that engages in political violence. He responded by telling them to, “stand back and stand by,” which has sparked national outrage. Many, including the Proud Boys, saw it as permission, or perhaps encouragement, to attack protesters; the group even made “stand back and stand by” part of their logo shortly after the statement was made and called it a “historic” moment.

The Proud Boys were named a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit organization that monitors extremist groups, due to their clear promotion of racist, homophobic, transphobic, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, and anti-Muslim beliefs. They participate in white supremacist rallies and take part in fights at protests, most often with the anti-fascist left-wing group, Antifa. The Proud Boys share a hate for critics of Trump and usually fly his flag at their rallies. 

Moderator Chris Wallace asked that Tuesday night, “Are you willing, tonight, to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down?” Trump initially responded with, “Sure, I’m willing to do that,” but when asked to take Proud Boys into account, he said, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by! But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left.” Some have argued the public judgements that resulted from his response by claiming that Trump never actually said he was in support of the group, although many agree that not denouncing the Proud Boys is contradictory to his denunciation of white supremacists. 

West student Jack Bartelt, expressed his concern about Trump’s response claiming, “The lack of condemnation by POTUS of a group with such pride in values that so necessarily demonstrate a lack of basic human empathy and logical thinking transitively indicates the presence of such qualities in one of the most powerful men on the planet. It’s truly scary.”

Madie Cox, former West student now attending Loyola University, also shared her thoughts about the comments made saying, “After the El Paso shooting in 2019, Trump came out with a statement stating, ‘In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America.’ But when asked to denounce the same things at the debate, he pretty much dodged the topic and was quick to point the finger elsewhere. Hypocrisy has no place in America, either.” 

The final debate between the two candidates took place last night, October 23 in Nashville, Tennessee.