Republicans are adopting the Proud Boys

Fascist skinhead groups have wreaked havoc in the U.S. for decades, but scholars of fascism have noted that those groups pose limited political threats — unless a mainstream political party embraces them.

“The skinheads, for example, would become functional equivalents of Hitler’s SA and Mussolini’s squadristi only if they aroused support instead of revulsion,” historian Robert Paxton writes in his 2004 book The Anatomy of Fascism. “If important elements of the conservative elite begin to cultivate or even tolerate them as weapons against some internal enemy, such as immigrants, we are approaching Stage Two” of what he identifies as fascist insurgency.

The Proud Boys, which have a paramilitary wing, have already proved willing to act as strongmen for Stone, and GOP stalwarts like the Metropolitan Republican Club have already proved willing to host the group.

The Proud Boys didn’t start out with such a focus on political violence.