On February 3rd local time, a piece of news occupied the home page of major mainstream media in the United States. The Canadian Department of Public Security announced that it officially listed the right-wing organization Proud Boy as a “terrorist entity”.
Canada thus became the first country in the world to list “Pride Boys” as a terrorist organization.
According to Bill Blair, Minister of Public Security of Canada, there were 13 organizations identified as “terrorist entities” on that day, which were divided into three categories: white supremacist organizations, neo-Nazi organizations and religious extremist organizations.” Pride Boys is one of the “white supremacist” organizations.
Canada believes that the incitement and organization of the “Pride Boys” in the January 6 riots in the U.S. Capitol have become “terrorism” in nature.
However, the Associated Press quoted Enrique Tario, the leader of Pride Boys, on the 3rd as saying that Canada’s move was absurd and was “using the riots in the U.S. Capitol to suppress them”.
According to Tario, the group’s Canadian chapter was “very quiet” compared with the American chapter and did not make any out-the-the-art action.
Founded in 2016, Proud Boy was originally a “hate politically correctness” club founded by Canadian media person living in the United States, Gavin McInnes. At present, the organization has established branches in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and other countries.
Proud Boy members are active on social platforms popular with conservative and far-right groups such as Gab, Parler and Telegram. Trump publicly shouted “Proud Boys” during the September 2020 presidential election teledebate to “stand back and stand by”.
It is considered Trump’s public endorsement of Proud Boys, whose members celebrated enthusiastically on private social media. On Parler, the main channel of Proud Boys had more than 51,000 followers at most.
The turning point came in the riots in the U.S. Capitol on January 6. According to The Wall Street Journal, far-right groups such as Pride Boys have used more and more violent speech in online chat, even shared bomb-making materials and guerrilla tactics, and called for asymmetric war with the government.
January 27, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a rare warning of local terrorism, saying that weeks after the deadly riots in the Capitol, “the threat environment has intensified across the United States”. This is the first time in the history that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a warning against domestic violent extremists.
It is worth noting that despite the Biden administration’s repeated promises to combat political extremism, white supremacy and domestic terrorism, U.S. officials have not yet identified Proud Boys as a terrorist organization.
Asked if the U.S. would follow Canada’s example in identifying Proud Boy as a “terrorist entity”, White House Press Secretary Psaki’s response was also cautious, “The United States is censoring domestic extremism, and deciding when the results of the censorship come out.”
Some analysts believe that one of the constraints of the Biden administration’s fight against domestic terrorism is that there is no relevant mechanism in current U.S. federal law to designate domestic groups as terrorist organizations.
According to VOX News, former President Trump called for the left-wing militant anti-fascist movement (ANTIFA) to be listed as a domestic terrorist organization, but he ended up with difficulties in advancing legislation.
Canada has uncovered a scar in the United States, which is the first far-right group Proud Boy, which belongs to one of the “white supremacist” organizations in the world to be recognized as a terrorist organization. Over the past four years, partisan politics in the United States has intensified, social tearing has intensified, “white supremacy” has risen, and racial antagonism has intensified.
According to a survey disclosed by the Military Times on February 3, about one-third of the military interviewed in active service believe that there are far-rights and white supremacists in the U.S. military.Of the 143 FBI investigations into active duty service members and veterans in 2020, 68 were linked to domestic extremism in the United States.
A survey released February 1 by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a non-profit civil rights organization in the United States, found that the organization tracked a total of 838 active hate groups in 2020. Although the overall figure fell by 11%, it still reached an all-time high.
SPLC also explained that the number of hate groups is only a measure of the extent of hatred and racism in the United States, and that the reduction of hate groups does not mean a decrease in hate awareness and action. According to a poll conducted by the agency in August 2020, 29 percent of Americans and those they know believe that white people are of the upper race.
Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the Diplomatic Academy, pointed out in an interview with overseas network that the political and social tearing and racial inequality in the United States have a long history and deep-rooted nature, and even if Biden can promote relevant legislation to designate groups as terrorist organizations, he will not eradicate the survival soil for extremist ideas.
Extremist organizations like Pride Boys will also exist for a long time, and may go underground in large quantities to act in a more hidden way.