On Wednesday, local leaders of the Proud Boys in Salt Lake City held a joint news conference with the leader of the local Black Lives Matter chapter to publicly “denounce white supremacy,” after the Proud Boys were mentioned during the first presidential debate. It was a show of solidarity and a repudiation of the notion that the right-wing group comprises white supremacists.
“I will go out and say that the Proud Boys as a whole — I will say this on behalf of the entire national organization — denounce White supremacy,” said Thad, the leader of the Proud Boys’ Utah chapter. “We are in no way, shape, or form White supremacists,” he continued. “We have a vetting system that gets those people out of our hair. We do not have anything to do with White supremacy. We do not have anything to do with the Ku Klux Klan. We denounce those organizations.”
One of the Proud Boys’ other leaders named Seth echoed Thad’s sentiments. “I don’t care what color your skin is, we’re all Americans, and we need to find a way to come together instead of divide,” he told reporters.
Jacarri Kelley, the leader of the Black Lives Matter Northern Utah chapter, argued that Americans of all political stripes must be willing to have conversations with one another even if they disagree. “We do need to be able to reach across the aisle and have these tough conversations,” Ms. Kelley said. She stated that she had met with the Proud Boys leaders in Portland, Oregon and that they engaged in a “productive conversation.”
As of this writing, this story has been covered by local news outlets, but not a single national news organization has reported on the press conference. It is not difficult to discern the reason why they are ignoring this story, of course. Ever since the group came up in the presidential debate, the corporate press has been painting the Proud Boys as a white supremacist organization without ever bothering to speak with members of the group to get their side of the story.
But it is not the Proud Boys who are the target of the media. Portraying them as white nationalists bent on promoting white supremacy is the tactic establishment media outlets are using to attack the President as Election Day draws near. Their strategy is to convince the public that when Trump told the Proud Boys to “stand back” and “stand by,” he gave them covert orders as if he were somehow running the group.
Any real coverage of the press conference would throw a monkey wrench into their plans as would showing the public that the Proud Boys have a significant number of minorities in their ranks. The fact that the organization’s leader is Latino doesn’t help, either.
But is there something more to this than a cynical strategy designed to damage Trump politically? It’s not only possible, it is likely. This press conference represents something that seems to be missing from political discourse in American society: People with differing political views coming together to find areas of commonality. It is a repudiation of the division that the corporate media has been mostly responsible for stoking for years.
Establishment media outlets have used their platforms to sow discord in American society, polarizing the people to earn a profit and promote a political agenda. To put it simply, they thrive off of division and tension. Calling attention to a press conference in which a group unfairly maligned as white supremacist stands shoulder to shoulder with a group like Black Lives Matter might show the nation that we do not need to hold hatred for people on the other side of the political spectrum.
Indeed, if America were more united, it would be more difficult for the elite to manipulate the public through outrage and other unproductive emotions. Moreover, people might find solutions to the problems they face, which means the media wouldn’t be able to use those problems to garner clicks and revenue, and they can’t have that, can they?
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