When it comes to speaking tours by aggressive, anti-social, potentially violent and fundamentally dangerous right-wing figureheads Australia truly is the lucky country, or at least that’s the impression you’d get if you relied on The Guardian for your understanding of the upcoming oratorical calendar.
This month, until bureaucratic bedwetters made minister David Coleman go weak-kneed, Gavin McInnes was booked to besmirch our pristine shores with his unique brand of ultra-masculine unpleasantness. As can be expected, the ABC has helpfully released an opinion piece advising us how to feel in the context of such an indignity.
McInnes, originally of Vice Magazine fame, is known predominately for founding The Proud Boys – self-described pugilistic purveyors of the patriarchy. One needs only a cursory understanding of the handwringing classes to know that even the mere thought of McInnes speaking (to a paying, private audience) would invoke vicious weeping and more than a few fervent Twitter campaigns to have him irrevocably banned for life. Nyadol Nyoun provides a perfectly representative example of the hysteria surrounding his visit, claiming (amongst other things) that McInnes is a ‘white supremacist thug’ who ‘makes no secret that he advocates violence’. At times like these one wishes they could dislocate their jaw at will in order to yawn harder. If we’re especially fortunate McInnes will feel like a bit of sport and pursue a few libel lawsuits, but then again, he probably won’t have time if tickets to see him prove as popular as those offered by Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter.
So if you’ve made it this far – what exactly is McInnes all about, if not white supremacism and oppressive anti-feminism? Put simply, The Proud Boys is a fraternal organisation that advocates western society as well as traditional, patriarchal social roles. Predictably, this is represented as cause for great concern by our noble national broadcaster, which warns that the group’s ‘Western chauvinism should be of even more concern to Australians’. Should it? As a discerning consumer of political content, when I’m advised that the Proud Boys ‘clearly has a belief in the superiority of Western Civilisation’ I’m immediately intrigued, not least because I agree but as a result of the absolute dearth of commentators or institutions offering a similar viewpoint.
The pathetic fact that anyone would deliberately seek to misinform the Australian public about the true nature of McInnes and The Proud Boys is outstripped only by the pitiful quality of the misinformation itself. Jason Wilson frets about the relationship between The Proud Boys and white supremacy in The Guardian – while posting a link to a podcast offering the concept of ‘multiracial white supremacy’ as evidence. This is an assertion too stupid to insult – either The Proud Boys are, as the source suggests, awful white supremacists unable to maintain an all-white membership base, or a group with such powerfully appealing racial ideals that people of colour can’t help themselves from joining. Assuming for a minute that we’re back in the halcyon days when facts actually mattered, McInnes has repeatedly and publicly asserted that The Proud Boys welcomes members of all races and sexual orientations.
Even more egregious is the attempt to suggest that the FBI has designated The Proud Boys as an extremist group. Such a claim would indeed be disturbing if true – but given the only evidence is a second-hand referral to an FBI briefing contained in a months-old Clark County Sheriff’s Office document I’ll elect to hold my breath for an official FBI statement on the issue.
Yet that didn’t stop disgraced Border Force boss “Bonin’” Roman Quaedvlieg, the man who dodged the fury of the #MeToo harpies by becoming a prolific Twitter lefty, leaping into the debate, telling the chipwrappers formerly known as Fairfax that McInnes was a bad thing.
The incessant slander makes it very easy to lose sight of arguably the most salient fact in this whole shitshow – Gavin McInnes, for better or worse, has managed to create a thriving social movement that is offering a system of support and solidarity to young males against a climate that is, in many cases, perceived to be increasingly hostile. There is undoubtedly a social void itching to be filled – and McInnes is more than willing to provide a voice that disaffected men can believe in.
For the most part, it seems as if The Proud Boys do nothing more than meet up at pubs to talk conservative politics and get drunk. The well-publicised scuffles with Antifa are, while immensely entertaining, not the primary reason that The Proud Boys exists. But, as we all know, gratuitous coverage of street fighting sells inordinately more digital subscriptions. The fact that Antifa and other equally undesirable activist groups deliberately picket conservative-leaning events seeking physical confrontation seems to be mysteriously absent from the media coverage when they get exactly what they want.
Imagine, if you will, that The Proud Boys were ardent advocates for multiculturalism who frequented Young Liberal events with the intent of roughing up a few privileged Scotch College Old Boys. No doubt the media coverage would be positively glowing. I expect that The Guardian would run a slobbering profile of McInnes lauding his immense success as a community outreach hero against progressively hostile political forces. But alas, while counterfactuals are fun, I’m going to have to get my laughs directly from Jason Wilson now that McInnes has been banned.
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