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President Donald Trump gestures while speaking during the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. Image via AP.

Emails & Opinions

Joe Henderson: Donald Trump’s racist call to arms is nothing to be proud about

Did the President tell the Proud Boys to bust heads if necessary? Yes.

During one of multiple contentious moments during Tuesday’s screamfest debate, President Donald Trump called on the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”

Twitter and social media exploded. Did the President of the United States on national TV green light the PBs to bust heads if necessary to keep him in office?

Sure sounded like it.

Most of us have long since lost the capacity to be astonished by Trump, but this remark made the cut.

For one thing, it tells me he believes he is about to lose, and he can’t handle that.

Just who are the Proud Boys?

The Southern Poverty Law Center put it this way.

The Proud Boys are self-described western chauvinists who adamantly deny any connection to the racist alt-right, insisting they are simply a fraternal group spreading an anti-political correctness and anti-white guilt agenda,” the organization said.

“Their disavowals of bigotry are belied by their actions: rank-and-file Proud Boys and leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists. They are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric. Proud Boys have appeared alongside other hate groups at extremist gatherings like the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.”

Facebook banned the Proud Boys in July for violating the platform’s hate policies. It shut down accounts with a direct link between shut down pages and accounts linked to Roger Stone and the Proud Boys.

I can’t imagine that during debate prep, even the most subservient of Trump’s sycophants OK’d this line of attack.

“Hey, Mr. President, here’s an idea. Give a shoutout to the Proud Boys and tell them to get their tire irons and clubs ready.”

Yeah, that probably didn’t happen.

We also know, though, that Trump has no filter. Trump just spit out something rolling around in his head. He never considers the consequences, and it would surprise no one if later today he denies he ever said that.

Business Insider reported the Proud Boys immediately used Trump’s remarks to recruit new followers.

And the reaction from some key Florida lawmakers?


U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, by this writing, had no response to the Proud Boys remark. He did take time, however, to be one of five votes against a non-binding U.S. House resolution demanding a peaceful transfer of power after the election.

He explained via Twitter that while he supports peace and all that, “the resolution was a way for Dems to attack @POTUS and disguise the fact that they will refuse to accept the election results unless they win.”

Gaetz also jagged about voter fraud. Translation: Republicans will refuse to accept the election results unless they win.

Florida Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio also apparently heard no evil, although Rubio did tweet Bible verses from Job and Revelation.

But what say ye about an overt racist air-horn from the President of the United States? Not satisfied with undermining mail-in ballots, now Trump wants to intimidate in-person voting as well.

Will PBs show up at polling places to badger and threaten voters unless they wear Trump buttons? You’re OK with that?

Speak up, I can’t hear you.

Oh, you know, that’s just Trump.

Yeah, it sure is.

Written By

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.
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St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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