President Donald Trump’s loss has the far-right deep in their feelings. As his presidency stumbles to its conclusion, members of the right who helped secure his unlikely 2016 victory have started turning on one another.
In recent days, a formerly prominent member of the Proud Boys, who runs a far-right group once referred to as its "tactical defense arm," has publicly denounced the Proud Boys as being insufficiently racist.
In leaked Telegram messages, Kyle "Based Stickman" Chapman castigated Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio and suggested the group be renamed the Proud Goys. ("Goys" is an anti-Semitic term favored by the far-right.)
Many have long accused the Proud Boys of racism, an accusation it denies, instead preferring to call itself "Western chauvinists." The Southern Poverty Law Center labels it an extremist hate group.
Chapman and Tarrio also reportedly bickered in a group chat, according to screenshots circulating on Twitter.
While some outlets are reporting that the dispute indicates that a "civil war" has broken out among the Proud Boys, whom Trump infamously told to "stand by" during a presidential debate, it's more accurate to say that infighting has broken out among rival factions of the far-right. Chapman hasn't been directly involved with the Proud Boys for the last few years, according to the Daily Beast reporter Will Sommer.
After achieving a certain level of fame with the Proud Boys as "Based Stickman," in 2017, Chapman formed the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights (FOAK), an obvious play on the names of some Ku Klux Klan-affiliated groups as well as the alt-right, a loose collection of conservatives that harbor white nationalists. The SPLC reports that at the time, the Proud Boys wholeheartedly accepted FOAK as a partner. It's been referred to as the group's "tactical defense arm."
The happy union between FOAK and the Proud Boys has fallen apart since Trump's election loss, however.
Counterintuitively, Chapman's discontent appears to have been sparked by Tarrio and two others, including right-wing activist Bevelyn Beatty, getting stabbed in the early morning hours of Nov. 4. None of the injuries were life-threatening.
In video of the incident, Tarrio can be seen retreating from the melee after reportedly being slashed in the abdomen. When the woman holding the camera urges him to help the others, he says, "I'm bleeding." The alleged assailants flee seconds later.
A leaked Telegram message purportedly from Chapman to FOAK claims that Tarrio failed "to conduct himself with honor and courage on the battlefield."
Thus, Chapman writes, "I have decided to reassume my post as president of the Proud Boys effective immediately." It's not clear whether Chapman ever held this position.
In screenshots of the alleged messages posted by Berkeley Antifa, Chapman continues, "We will no longer cuck to the left by appoint[ing] token negros as our leaders. We will no longer allow homosexuals or other 'undesirables' into our ranks. We recognize that the West was built by the White Race alone and we owe nothing to any other race."
Tarrio is Latinx, and also heads the Florida branch of Latinos for Trump.
The message continues in this vein, rambling about "white genocide," criticizing multiculturalism, and making other white supremacist statements. It concludes with a thinly-veiled vow to violently overthrow the government and replace it with a white supremacist fascist regime.
"We acknowledge the two party duopoly is corrupt and beyond redemption, and a Third Position body politic is the only way forward. We honor our ancestors' warrior spirits."
The Third Position is a form of neo-fascism that advocates overthrowing governments and replacing them with monocultural nations built on racial and/or religious supremacist nationalism, according to Political Research Associates.
As Chapman trashed his former comrades and urged violently overthrowing the government, Tarrio bragged on Parler that the Proud Boys aren't violent or destructive (a claim which some evidence disputes). The Proud Boys are planning a protest in Washington, D.C. this weekend.
Following Trump's 2016 election victory, the alt-right attempted to unify behind him, efforts which culminated with the deadly and infamous Unite the Right rally in 2017. Subsequently, some made efforts to distance themselves from the violence, but by and large, they maintained public appearances of cohesion. That spirit of cooperation appears to be in the past.
The alt-right infighting has given people online cause to celebrate.
"They're eating each other. Fan-fucking-tastic," one Twitter user commented.
The disintegration of the far-right's unholy union was probably always inevitable, particularly as some, like the Proud Boys, tried to maintain a degree of mainstream credibility, while others reveled in public displays of racist extremism.
Trump's failed re-election bid seems to have hastened the breakup.