In the midst of a hundred news stories that blip on and off every 5 minutes, one particularly caught my eye. Yesterday, four Proud Boys were convicted of seditious conspiracy for plotting to keep President Donald J. Trump in power after his election defeat by leading a violent mob to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
My first reaction to this story was a deep sense of gladness. Of course, whenever bad guys get their just desserts, it’s gratifying. So much of the time, justice is relative. Evil people who commit crimes often find a way to go free by using loopholes embedded in the system. We were able to bring these dangerous racists to court and prove their culpability.
My second reaction was a victorious fist bump. The Proud Boys are taken down a notch or two? Yes! Everything this organization stands for is vile: Here are some of the critical tenets of the Proud Boys’ philosophy:
Western culture is superior to all others.
White people are the superior race.
Islam is a violent religion.
Jews are seeking to subvert the destiny of white people.
Feminism is a cancer.
Women should be subservient to men.
The Proud Boys are a fraternity of men loyal to each other and Western culture.
The Proud Boys are willing to use violence to defend Western civilization.
My third reaction was one of hopefulness. Qualified hopefulness, maybe, but hopefulness is just the same. History has seen many groups like Proud Boys all over the world. They are always men with grievances, guys who can’t catch a break, who see others getting some of what they cannot attain. They don’t get the attention of the media. They seem unable to get the best jobs or the best girls. They feel cheated. Someone is preventing them from getting what is rightly theirs because they are white and Christian. It’s the Muslims who have sought their demise since the Crusades a thousand years ago. Black people get jobs and university placement with affirmative action, which cheats white people. Immigrants steal jobs from white people and seek, at the direction of the Jews, to replace White Christian men in every conceivable context. By building a minority-majority in America, brown and black people, under the supervision of the Jews, will run the government. The US will become “minority white” in 2045. During that year, whites will comprise 49.7 percent of the population, compared to 24.6 percent for Hispanics, 13.1 percent for blacks, 7.9 percent for Asians, and 3.8 percent for multiracial populations. This terrifies white supremacist groups like Proud Boys.
In so many cases, when these fearful white hate groups act out in violence, they are not punished. Often there is a nudge-nudge-wink-wink attitude from the police or local governments. The Klan. The Nazi Party. Golden Dawn in Greece are just a few examples of hate groups allowed to spread hate with little official interference.
But not here. There is a commitment from the Justice Department to call out violence against others and call it by its name: sedition. Hate crimes. Fascism. In such moments I feel hopeful that there is still a commitment to the dream of our nation, a multi-ethnic stew of people from all over with different ethnic roots, religions, skin tones, and sexual orientations, and all of us committed to the diversity that enriches our culture and our economy.
I am worried about the ongoing culture clash in our nation. I am vexed by people’s limitless capacity to lie, hate, and threaten, all in the name of promoting a binary vision of the world, a vision of white superiority, Christian fundamentalism, and cultural censorship.
I’m not naïve enough to imagine that this successful prosecution means the end of the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, or any other hate group. But I am glad, a bit triumphant, and proud that the moral code of my nation, under siege as never before since the Civil War, continues to raise up liberty and justice – for all.