Gavin McInnes responded to controversies involving the Proud Boys, a fraternity-style group he founded, during an interview with ABC News after disassociating himself from the group and being hit with a series of bans on social media. McInnes defended the Proud Boys as a benign, inclusive brotherhood that meets at a bar for drinks once a month and helps escort conservative speakers to and from venues, though he said he personally regrets advocating for violence "without making the context clear."
McInnes told ABC that he's unapologetically and unabashedly "proud" of the Proud Boys and vehemently denied that the group is in any way hateful, sexist, or racist.
"Are the proud boys racists?" asked ABC's Paula Faris. "No," McInnes answered.
"Misogynists?" she asked.
"Is the proud boys a hate group?"
"Ninety-nine percent is meeting in a bar once a month and drinking beer just like everyone else," explained McInnes. The other 1% is "escorting conservative speakers to and from their cars or wherever they're going," he added.
Members of the Proud Boys interviewed by the network similarly emphasized that the group has no association with bigotry or hate, though it's often portrayed as such in the mainstream media.
The Proud Boys is "an organization that does not care who you sleep with, what god you pray to, all we care is that you have a good time, that you improve yourself," said one member. Another said, "We are the most misunderstood group in America. Like first it's like, far right group, then it's like far right hate group, far right white supremacist group, far right gang."
"At the heart of the proud boys is the belief the West is the best," said McInnes. "Russia sucks. China sucks. The Middle East is not my cup of tea ... I think it's inarguable that the West is superior. The West is built on liberty and meritocracy and busting your ass."
Despite reporting from The Washington Post in November, the Proud Boys are not viewed as an extremist group by the FBI. The Daily Wire noted: "The Oregonian reported that according to Oregon’s top FBI agent, the FBI had not designated the Proud Boys as an extremist group. Special Agent in Charge Renn Cannon told reporters that the FBI never intended to designate the Proud Boys as an extremist group when it briefed Clark County law enforcement leaders about regional threats."
McInnes was essentially excommunicated from the modern day public square over the last few months, catching a ban on Twitter, Facebook, and a temporary ban from YouTube. He was also fired from BlazeTV just a week after the CRTV/Blaze merger.
McInnes also addressed recent controversies, such as a remark he made about Mexicans on the "Joe Rogan Experience" podcast, which McInnes said was "taken out of context."
"You've said things like Mexico sucks because of Mexicans," said Faris.
"That was — we were sitting around talking and someone was bitching about how America and their foreign policy and it's ruined all these countries, it's ruined Mexico and I said, America did not ruin Mexico. ... Mexicans are responsible for Mexico. Mexicans ruined Mexico. That's the tone there. But when it's taken out of context, it sounds like some sort of reverend of hate. This started as a joke," he answered.
As for the 4Chan-engineered OK hand gesture associated with white nationalism, McInnes said he would tell Proud Boys not to flash the sign if he were their employer.
"Do you understand that you can't say on one hand, we're misunderstood and on the other hand, flash what a lot of people believe to be a white power hand symbol. Do you understand that?" asked Faris.
"Yes," said McInnes. "I'll give you that bone and if I was their boss, I would say, guys, this is causing too much trouble, please stop doing it in photos."
Regarding the "Unite the Right" rally Charlottesville, McInnes said anyone associated with the protest was booted from the group. "If anyone showed up at Unite the Right, they were instantly booted and I made that clear months before."
He also laughed off the suggestion that white supremacy is a serious issue in the United States. "Everyone says [Richard Spencer and David Duke] and the KKK, let's get them all together. You're lucky if they fill up a living room."
McInnes, though, said he does have one regret.
"I shouldn't have said, you know, violence solves everything or something like that without making the context clear. And I regret saying things like that," he said.
Faris followed up, "Are you apologizing?"
"No," he said, noting that he would not "take it all back" if he could. "That ship has sailed," he said.
McInnes officially split with the Proud Boys after violence broke out between left-wing Antifa members and some Proud Boys in NYC. "I'm officially dissociating myself from the Proud Boys in all capacities forever. I quit. I'm told by my legal team and law enforcement that this gesture could help alleviate their sentencing," announced McInnes.