In response to a question about whether he would condemn white supremacists and militia groups and ask them to stay peaceful in the coming weeks and months, President Trump singled out the Proud Boys, a racist and antisemitic white supremacist group and told them to “stand by.”
“Are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence?” asked moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News.
“Proud boys, stand back and stand by,” said Trump.
Proud Boy members on social media platforms like Telegram reacted with delight.
“Trump basically said to go fuck them up! This makes me so happy,” said a member named Joe Biggs.
The Proud Boys are ecstatic tonight about getting mentioned in the debate tonight.
“Trump basically said to go fuck them up! this makes me so happy,” writes one prominent Proud Boy. pic.twitter.com/hYA7yQVAOn— Mike Baker (@ByMikeBaker) September 30, 2020
The Proud Boys on Telegram have now posted an image with its logo and Trump’s remark. https://t.co/xSySGrohcmpic.twitter.com/UAJFsKCsbX— Alex Kaplan (@AlKapDC) September 30, 2020
Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, instantly condemned the response on Twitter.
It’s astonishing that, when asked a simple question, will you condemn white supremacists, @POTUS responded - “The Proud Boys should stand back and stand by.” Trying to determine if this was an answer or an admission. @POTUS owes America an apology or an explanation. Now. https://t.co/9tgufXom9K— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) September 30, 2020
The Proud Boys were founded during the 2016 presidential election and describe themselves as “Western chauvinists.” Former Proud Boys member Jason Kessler helped organize the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville.
That rally came up during an earlier part of the debate.
Vice President Joe Biden recalled President Donald Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville as one of the reasons he joined the 2020 presidential race.
“Remember what those people looked like coming out of the fields carrying torches, their veins bulging, just spewing antisemitic bile and accompanied by the Ku Klux Klan,” said Biden. “A young woman got killed and they asked the president what he thought and he said there were very fine people on both sides. No president has ever said anything like that.”
Trump’s to antisemitic Proud Boys: ‘Stand by’