“We’re at the behest of this bitchy teenager.”
Gavin McInnes, the right-wing media entrepreneur and founder of the Proud Boys, railed against the Southern Poverty Law Center Monday outside the group’s offices in Montgomery, Alabama.
McInnes filed a defamation lawsuit against the left-wing watchdog this week, claiming that it traduced him by designating the Proud Boys — the macho men’s rights brigade from which he disassociated himself in November — as a “violent” hate group, akin to the Ku Klux Klan.
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McInnes, who in the past described the Proud Boys alternatively as “basically a pro-Trump drinking club” and a gang, did not mention the hate group designation in his speech. But he blamed the SPLC for his recent ostracism from social media: he has been banned from Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
“I was a normal family man before I got into their sights,” said McInnes.
“This is about Americans being persecuted by a group with seemingly unlimited power,” McInnes, who had also founded and left Vice Media, continued.“We’re at the behest of this bitchy teenager. This is profoundly un-American.”
— Ezra Levant ? (@ezralevant) February 4, 2019
The SPLC stayed well out of McInnes’ way during his angry oratory on Monday. But in a statement, SPLC president Richard Cohen dismissed McInnes’ suit as meritless and derided him for exhibiting “a history of making inflammatory statements about Muslims, women and the transgender community.”
McInnes is guilty as charged on those counts, though he has insisted it’s all a long, beautiful troll. He has also publicly touted the utility of violence, saying “fighting solves everything,” and called to “destroy” Antifa, the Proud Boys’ ideological nemesis and sometimes-violent sparring partner in the culture wars.
On Monday, dressed in a white suit and fedora and speaking into a microphone attached to a portable amp, McInnes praised the SPLC’s history before lambasting its present.
“I think the SPLC started out with noble intentions,” he said. “I think they started out … trying to fight bigotry. Trying to fight hatred. And we all feel the same way about that in this country. We all want bigotry and hatred to be monitored. To be stemmed. Sounds good to me. I’m in. Great.”
But alas, all they do now “is they cast this wide net of ‘everyone’s a Nazi’ and they start destroying lives,” McInnes said.
McInnes is the latest in a series of high-profile names to sue the SPLC for allegedly overstepping. Maajid Nawaz, a British Muslim reformer, in June won a settlement from the group, which saw it repeatedly apologize for including him on its 2016 list of “anti-Muslim extremists” and pay out $3.4 million to his think tank, Quilliam.
Months earlier, the SPLC had nixed the offending registry, which had also included Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an ex-Muslim activist who had to flee the Netherlands due to the abundance of credible death threats issued against her by radical Islamists.
Even liberals have been confounded by the pair’s designation as anti-Muslim, as well as by other recent SPLC moves, like identifying atheist neuroscientist Sam Harris as part of the “alt-right ecosystem.” McInnes was also mention in that analysis.
According to McInnes’ lawsuit, the SPLC has made him “essentially an untouchable, unable to retain or be considered for gainful employment in his line of work.”
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