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A lot of people woke up yesterday morning with no concept of who the Proud Boys are, or what they are. But as people woke up today, many found themselves searching for information about the group online after President Donald Trump urged the group to "stand by" during last night's Presidential Debate.

The Proud Boys are a neo-fascist organization, classified by the FBI as an "extremist group". The FBI has linked the group to other violent "white nationalist" groups, and have warned local law enforcement agencies of their escalating violence.

Members of the group have been arrested, and convicted, of violent crimes across the country. Including gang assault, violence at the Unite The Right Rally in Charlottesville including multiple long-term prison sentences, and lying to police.

Their founder is an online "comedian" and provocateur named Gavin McInnes. Though he his "affiliation" with the group has bounced around over the last few years, the seeds he planted to form the group have strong roots today. McInnes created the group with a lot of "tongue-in-cheek" jokes baked into the foundation, which he used to deflect the serious accusations leveled at their behavior. One of the early mocking points was the group's name "Proud Boys", which is taken from the Disney movie Aladdin, and the song "Proud of Your Boy". McInnes has also participated in other bizarre online behavior, including using a sex toy on himself during a live online broadcast and claiming to have eaten a bowl of breakfast cereal soaked in urine.

The rhetoric and behavior of the Proud Boys founder even lead to him being banned from Australia. 

The nation's leading experts on hate groups, The Southern Poverty Law Center, has classified The Proud Boys as a Hate Group. SPLC gave them the distinction based on their actions, and their own words. Including the following highlighted quotes from the group's file on their website:

“Maybe the reason I’m sexist is because women are dumb. No, I’m just kidding, ladies. But you do tend to not thrive in certain areas — like writing.”
—Gavin McInnes, The Gavin McInnes Show, June 28, 2017

"When blacks are forced into schools they aren’t qualified for they have no choice but to drop out. Instead of going back a step to a school they can handle, they tend to give up on higher education entirely. Thanks to the Marxist myth of ubiquitous equality, this ‘mismatch’ leaves blacks less educated than they would have been had they been left to their own devices.”
—Gavin McInnes, “America in 2034,” American Renaissance, June 17, 2014

"The war against whites, and Europeans and Western society is very real and it’s time we all started talking about it and stopped worrying about political correctness and optics.”
—Kyle Chapman, who formed the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights, a wing of the Proud Boys, Unite America First Peace Rally, Sacramento, California, July 8, 2017

The organization is often positioned as a "counter balance" to the concept of ANTIFA (Anti-fascist), however there is no centralized ANTIFA group. The major difference is that ANTIFA is a concept, while The Proud Boys are a specific organization, with designated leadership, and networking. While ANTIFA is an anti-Nazi belief that if more people in Germany would have pushed back against the rise of Adolph Hitler (fascist), Nazis would have never gained power. Meaning the term ANTIFA actually breaks down to anti-Nazi.

The Proud Boys are one of the very few white nationalist groups that have been banned by both Facebook and Twitter, over their hate. However there are still individuals who operate on both social media platforms who are members of The Proud Boys, and push their rhetoric.

Those accounts last night lit up with joy as President Trump spoke about them. When asked to denounce white supremacy in the United States, the President instead told the Proud Boys to "Stand back, and stand by" before inferring they need to be ready to confront "the left". You can see the video here

After that statement, Proud Boys online took that as a call to action. The official Proud Boys social media account, which is on the platform Telegram, posted images and pledges of allegiance to Trump after the comments. With Proud Boys organizer Joe Biggs writing: "President Trump told the proud boys to stand by because someone needs to deal with ANTIFA... well sir! we're ready!" The group even developed a logo using the term "Stand back, Stand by".

This instance is very similar to a previous endorsement for Trump from former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, who famously expressed why white supremacists feel energized about Donald Trump's campaign and administration.