Unlike far-right pro-Trump groups like the Proud Boys, Patriot Front does not have a high level of public awareness and prefers to operate primarily under the relative secrecy of online platforms, where its program of radicalizing young white men can optimize belief system to violence. Until the airmen show up or the group organizes a march to demonstrate their strength, like the one they organized in Washington, DC earlier this year, most of their activities remain hidden.
They tend to regard rival right-wing extremist groups with contempt. "Proud boys are a bunch of cucks," wrote a member of the Patriot Front from Texas. “They call themselves 'Western Chauvinists,' which means they are a group of liberals, PC culture and 'Snowflakes'. don't like but are too afraid to face these things in any meaningful way so they don't get called RACISTS !! !! ”
Although they have similar goals, the civil war movement "Boogaloo" is viewed similarly. "The whole boogaloo is a reminder that if you joke about something long enough, you'll stop joking," said founder Thomas Rousseau, a young man from Texas, told another member online. "A spontaneous slapstick joke on the forum could turn into something someone shoots at if it festers and rots, like the moldy idea is."
However, it has been extraordinarily productive in spreading fascist propaganda, which has grown sharply overall during Trump's tenure. "In the United States, they lead white supremacist propaganda distributions," Carla Hill, an Anti-Defamation League researcher, told Buzzfeed.
As I reported for the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2017, the Patriot Front is unapologetically fascist and openly racist, anti-Semitic and hateful towards the LGBTQ community. And as Lytvynenko's report explains, it's not only growing, but independently of Donald Trump's career.
Thomas Rousseau [left] marches with James Alex Fields [right] in Charlottesville in August 2017.
It emerged from the now defunct Iron March online forum, from which a number of violent neo-Nazi offshoots emerged. from the murderous nuclear weapons division and domestic terrorist group "The Base" to the west coast-based Rise Above Movement; to the organization Vanguard America, which marched in 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, where one of its members, James Alex Fields, mowed an anti-fascist counter-protester, Heather Heyer, in his car.
The founder of the Patriot Front, Thomas Rousseau, was photographed with Fields and other protesters from Vanguard America. At the time he was a member of Vanguard America. The Patriot Front, however, arose out of a desire to reorganize and consecrate white supremacists to Charlottesville, with an open embrace of fascism along the way.
One of the Patriot Front aviators – their primary recruiting tactic – is "Fascism: The Next Step for America". His manifesto states: "Our national way of life is facing total annihilation as our culture and heritage are attacked from all sides." This passage contains:
An African may have lived, worked, and even been considered a citizen in America for centuries, but he is not an American. He is, as he would probably rather be labeled, an African in America. The same rule applies to others who are not part of our people or who do not share the common unconscious that permeates all of our larger civilization and the European diaspora.
Rousseau's group has also displayed a propensity for violence, from threatening to protest a book fair in Houston, Texas, to attempting to attack an Occupy ICE protest camp in San Antonio, Texas in 2018. It was discovered earlier in the year of recruiting at the rally for Donald Trump in Jersey City, New Jersey.
But Trump himself is often viewed with a kind of derisive contempt by many members of the Patriot Front, no matter how much they view rival right-wing groups as simply not radical enough.
"In many ways, many people in the white power movement are not fans of Trump, but they see him as useful to their movement by introducing some of their ideas and implementing some of the policies they favor," said Cassie Miller, a Analyst at the SPLC said Lytvynenko. "But in a way they see it as a time buying."
As Lytvynenko notes:
To them, Trump is an old man who holds up crumbling institutions and passes guidelines that gradually move things forward without reshaping the institutions themselves. When he's gone, the wreckage will be left and for many he will be nothing more than a tool that they used to build the white power movement.