Gavin McInnes: who is the founder of neo-fascist group Proud Boys and co-founder of Vice magazine? And his links to Scotland

The founder of the far-right hate group The Proud Boys has unlikely links to Scotland

Thursday, 1st October 2020, 3:37 pm
Updated Thursday, 1st October 2020, 3:50 pm
The far-right leader's supporters are often seen wearing Donald Trump memorabilia (Getty Images)
The far-right leader's supporters are often seen wearing Donald Trump memorabilia (Getty Images)

At the first presidential debate on 29 September, current White House incumbent Donald Trump name-checked a far-right, anti-immigrant group, known as Proud Boys.

During a televised exchange with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, packed full of churlish low-blows, Trump said that members of the group should “stand back and stand by”, before blaming civil rest in American cities on left-wing movement, Antifa.

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The Proud Boys, who are identifiable by their use of American flags, open carrying of weapons and wearing of Fred Perry polo shirts, were founded by British-Canadian right-wing activist, Gavin McInnes, a once respected name in journalism.

Vice magazine, hipster figure and white supremacist views

Before he moved into right-wing politics Gavin McInnes was best known for co-founding Vice magazine in 1994, along with Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi.

During his time at the magazine, which moved from Montreal to New York City, McInnes became a prominent figure in the hipster subculture. While playing a role with the magazine, he espoused racist and white supremacist views.

In 2002 he stated that he was glad that Brooklyn hipsters were predominantly white. In a separate interview he said, ''I love being white and I think it's something to be very proud of.

“I don't want our culture diluted. We need to close the borders now and let everyone assimilate to a Western, white, English-speaking way of life.''

In 2008 he left the staunchly rebellious magazine over “creative differences.”

Life after Vice and founding of Proud Boys

Following his exit from Vice, McInnes founded website streetcarnage.com, and co-founded Rooster, an advertising agency. He was let go by Rooster in 2014 when he wrote an essay titled Transphobia is Perfectly Natural.

In 2013, he starred in independent film How To Be A Man which featured at the Sundance Next Weekend.

In 2015, McInnes found a platform for his far-right views, launching The Gavin McInnes show on streaming platform Compound Media, while also featuring as a regular on far-right Canadian social commentary site, Rebel Media, and the conspiracy theory-pedalling InfoWars with Alex Jones, as well as Fox News.

On his radio show, McInnes has frequently shared racist and anti-semitic views.

In 2016, he founded far-right hate group Proud Boys. A year later he would incite violence on the streets of New York City, during clashes between Proud Boys and Antifa, stating, "Violence doesn't feel good, justified violence feels great, and fighting solves everything.

“I want violence. I want punching in the face."

In 2018 he said of Islam, "Muslims have a problem with inbreeding. They tend to marry their first cousins... and that is a major problem [in the US] because when you have mentally damaged inbreds - which not all Muslims are, but a disproportionate number are - and you have a hate book called the Koran... you end up with a perfect recipe for mass murder."

McInnes officially left Proud Boys in 2018.

What are his links to Scotland?

Gavin McInnes was born in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, to Scottish parents. They emigrated to Canada during McInnes’ childhood.

Speaking in a Rebel Media video, McInnes revealed that his father, Jimmy, grew up in the Gorbals in Glasgow.

In 2019, when Scottish group Young Fathers made calls for the National Portrait Gallery to be more diverse, McInnes - referring to himself as a “weegie” - told the members to “go back where ye came fe Young Feethers. Back to Edinburgh where ye belong.”