The danger of violent far-right hate groups has not disappeared along with Trump. In Portland, Maine, members of the Proud Boys—a white supremacist hate group—have been meeting in Mathew’s Pub for months, as reported by Mainer on July 20th. These meetings are bringing the threat of far-right violence to our city and beyond, and must be opposed.
The Proud Boys meetings in Mathew’s Pub became known after a worker was fired for refusing to serve members of the far-right group in order to oppose their hateful beliefs. The decision by Mathew’s owner to fire instead of supporting this worker puts the owner on the side of the Proud Boys and against the interests of working people in Portland, especially LGBTQ workers and workers of color. In a system where profits are prioritized above all else, bosses will often choose to provide sanctuary for far-right ideas like those of the Proud Boys, if it means making a few extra bucks. Whether it’s a massive corporation or a small business, workers standing up to racism and far-right violence can stop businesses from giving meeting space to fascist groups.
The Proud Boys cannot be allowed to organize in Portland. Far-right and fascist groups are all about trying to intimidate people, incite racism, and incite violence against immigrants, people of color, progressives, unions, the left and others. If not stopped, far-right groups like the Proud Boys threaten everyone’s civil rights and liberties. We’ve seen time and again the horrifying actions of far-right and fascist groups. These include the murder of anti-racist activist Heather Heyer at a Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017, violence against Black Lives Matter protests last summer, the right-wing militia shootings in Kenosha, WI in 2020, and the recent shooting and other attacks by the Proud Boys against anti-fascist protestors in Portland, Oregon. Far-right and white supremacist hate groups such as the Proud Boys pose a threat to all working people and youth in Portland.
We can organize to push the Proud Boys—and any other far-right hate groups—out of Portland. Working people and youth in this city have the power to shut down the fascists by publicly opposing them, protesting against them, and denying them space in which to organize. Working people and youth in Boston showed a new generation how to stop the far-right when 40,000 anti-fascist protestors went into the streets of Boston and into Boston Common and chased off the tiny Charlottesville-inspired far-right rally in 2017.
Three million people marching nationwide for women’s rights seriously challenged the stability of Trump’s first months in office. Protests and job actions defeated Trump’s initial Muslim Ban attempt by occupying airports and organizing taxi and Uber drivers to withhold their labor. More recently, hundreds of thousands of anti-racist, Black Lives Matter protestors forced concessions from local, state, and federal government, including the arrest and conviction of the cop who murdered George Floyd. When working people and youth move into action the far-right can be stopped.
In order to fight back against the Proud Boys and the far-right, the Independent Socialist Group proposes the following:
- Mathew’s must stop providing meeting space for far-right and fascist groups like the Proud Boys.
- Mathew’s must take responsibility for firing the worker who opposed the Proud Boys, and offer compensation to the fired worker.
- Build a movement to fight the far-right! Working people and youth throughout Portland and other areas need to join together to oppose the Proud Boys and other far-right/fascist groups. We need to organize a coalition of local progressive activists and groups, unions, and individuals who oppose the Proud Boys and the far-right. This coalition could organize actions including informational picketing, rallies, boycotts, union and workplace actions, and more.
- Fight the far-right at the source! The far-right draws some of its base from those who refuse to see serious problems they’re facing as rooted in an unfair economic system. The far-right often tries using right wing populism to hide the corporate greed and big business politics of capitalism – the real source of falling living standards, a lack of social benefits, and an insecure future for working people. Far-right and fascist groups are fronting for the big corporations and far-right politicians, but they often try to hide this. We can build a progressive coalition and movement to immediately expose, oppose and stop the far-right, including its racism and hate. At the same time we need to continue the fight against racism, and actively organize solidarity among all working people and organize for better living standards. We need truly affordable housing, free healthcare for all, free higher education, a living wage and better working conditions for all working people in Maine.