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Did the Proud Boys just embrace an antisemitic, anti-white group?

Black Hammer, an organization perhaps best known for tweeting “Anne Frank is a colonizer,” has just joined forces with self-described “Western chauvinist” group the Proud Boys to “defeat the disgusting p*do-loving, welfare economy demoncrats [sic] and their puppet master, BIG PHARMA,” according to a tweet from Black Hammer. The tweet received over 2,000 quote tweets and retweets, the majority of which were mocking the announcement. What exactly the coalition might do or any future plans are unclear.

The announcement features clips from a Zoom call between Black Hammer leader Gazi Kodzo and Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes in which Kodzo, who is Black, declares his opposition to vaccine mandates and distances himself from the Black Lives Matter movement “because of my stance on pedophilia and the fact that I started reading the Bible more.”

While both groups have a history of antisemitism, they have little else in common, at least on the surface. Black Hammer’s mission statement says it “exists to take the Land Back for all colonized people worldwide” and forbids white people to join (though they encourage reparations in the form of donations to Black Hammer).

Meanwhile, though the Proud Boys publicly denounce any association with white supremacy, according to the ADL, “their activity has attracted white supremacists who share the group’s opposition to progressive politics and proclivity for violence.”

“I love being white,” McInnes told The New York Times in 2003. “I don’t want our culture diluted. We need to close the borders now and let everyone assimilate to a Western, white, English-speaking way of life.”

Kodzo, meanwhile, has frequently referred to white people as “bleach demons.”

To some extent, the unusual coalition is easily explained: it’s fake. According to Emily Kaufman, a researcher at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, though McInnes is still influential in the Proud Boys, he is no longer officially affiliated with the group and doesn’t have the authority to commit them to any sort of coalition. Instead, McInnes appeared with Kodzo on a podcast called “Sex Wars” that streams on YouTube. Kodzo tweeted the announcement of a coalition and an outlet called The Gateway Pundit picked it up; Kaufman said that the article had been circulating on Proud Boy chats.

“What actual Proud Boys are actually saying about this, they’re just sort of confused,” Kaufman said when we spoke by phone. “In the Proud Boys public chat on Telegram, some users who really frequently post and have a bit of authority within the group have been saying, ‘What’s this about Black Hammer?’ — I’m reading here from actual messages — ‘Isn’t this the asshole, the one who legitimately said white people are dogs?’” Kaufman thought some Proud Boy members might be influenced by the idea of a coalition, but most seemed to reject the idea.

Kaufman hypothesized that Kodzo’s decision to appear with McInnes was probably an attempt to draw attention through controversy. As for McInnes, Kaufman theorized that speaking with Kodzo might hold appeal as a defense against the charges of racism and white supremacy frequently leveled against him.

Yet there’s more than just publicity at work. McInnes has long known of Kodzo, and said in the podcast that the Proud Boys use the rallying cry “Uhuru” because of him. And Kodzo also appears to be throwing his hat into the alt-right ring more generally, after originally aligning himself and his organization with the left. On the podcast, Kodzo thanked “white Trumpers” for recently bailing him out of jail and spent a significant amount of time praising various groups of white people for reasons as diverse as their political ideologies and their ability to season food. Black Hammer’s Twitter account is full of praise for Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot three people during a Black Lives Matter protest.

Still, the combination of Kodzo and McInnes is surprising; it is nearly impossible to reconcile the narratives each has historically hewed to. The common ground they’ve found is in COVID. The Proud Boys have been actively protesting vaccine and mask mandates at school board meetings and though Black Hammer has handed out KN95 masks at community service events, they also oppose mandates and promote disinformation about vaccines.

Protesting vaccines and mask mandates, and invoking comparisons to Nazi Germany to do so, has been a gathering point for extremist groups across the spectrum. Maybe McInnes and Kodzo’s new coalition is not so surprising after all.

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