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“Conviction of Proud Boys Members for Seditious Conspiracy: 3 Must-Read Pieces on Right-Wing Extremist White Nationalism and the Group”


Four members of the far-right group called the Proud Boys were sentenced May 4, 2023 on charges of seditious conspiracy and other charges related to their attempt to lead an attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Among those convicted is the group’s former leader, Enrique Tarrio.

Several scholars have written for The Conversation US about the group, its ideologies, and other elements of the far-right push for white nationalism. Here we highlight three examples from our archive.

Members of the Proud Boys march with others to the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

1. Who are the Proud Boys and what do they want?

“Proud Boys have self-identified as ‘Western chauvinists’ who focus on countering political correctness and white guilt. But these claims were generally seen as cover-ups for deeper racist and anti-Semitic sentiments,” criminology scholars wrote. Matthew Valasik at the University of Alabama and Shannon Reid at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

“The more committed members of this and other far-right groups believe that the U.S. government, as currently constituted, is illegitimate and should be overthrown and replaced with one based on white supremacy,” they wrote.

Read more: Regardless of the outcome of seditious conspiracy, right-wing groups like Proud Boys are trying to build a white nation

Woman in mask holds sign comparing COVID-19 to racism – 'assume you've got it'
Denouncing the insidiousness of white supremacy during a protest march.
Stephen Zenner/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

2. Proud Boys are just one example of systemic racism

“Many Proud Boys reject the ‘white supremacist’ label, arguing that their goal is to ‘save America’ and defend ‘Western values,'” wrote Ursula Moffittwho was a postdoctoral fellow in psychology at Northwestern University but is now on the faculty of Wheaton College.

But, she explained, “(w)hite supremacy has long been a Western value itself. And white people don’t have to be white supremacists to benefit from the way it continues to shape American society.”

Moffitt even wrote, “the privileges accorded to whiteness are so much a part of the fabric of American society that many white people don’t even notice them. … (A) While racism is often seen only as biased beliefs and behaviors – as embodied by the Proud Boys and other similar groups – it is better defined as a system of advantage based on race.”

Read more: White supremacists who stormed the US Capitol are just the most visible product of racism

3. The challenge of reintegrating extremists into society

It’s not clear what will happen if the four Proud Boys members convicted on May 4, or others facing their own charges in the aftermath of the January 6 uprising, go to prison — or what society will do with them. will do when they are eventually released.

“(N)either the national security services nor the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Prisons have seriously considered how to deal with extremist prisoners while they are serving their sentences, nor how to offer them a path to reintegration with the country they are in. attacked or intended to do,” wrote John Horgana psychologist at Georgia State University.

Horgan recommended “creating deradicalization efforts to address the increasingly diverse population of homegrown terrorists, (including psychological counseling and restorative justice”).

Read more: Why is it so hard to fight domestic terrorism? 6 experts share their opinion

Editor’s note: This story is a summary of articles from the archives of The Conversation.

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