Elana Sztokman
Award-winning feminist writer, researcher, educator and activist

Trump and his Proud Boys: Are you scared yet?

The past four years of Donald Trump occupying the White House have induced more than their share of scary moments.

Kids in cages. Men killed by police boots on their necks. The American government using weapons and unmasked cars to attack or even kidnap its own people in peaceful protests….I can go on.

It’s a long list.

Democrats Abroad-Israel

But no singular moment compares in its frightening intensity to the moment this week when Trump told the Proud Boys, a group of violent, racist, anti-Semitic, white supremacist fanatics to ‘stand by’. From the largest podium he could find. The presidential debate. Watched by 73 million people. He sent a clear and unmistakable signal to this group, his people, to stand by.

Stand by for what?

What instructions from Trump are they waiting for?

Are we even ready to know what Trump is planning here?

A defining clue is that The Proud Boys are excited. They are already celebrating this massive boost from the president. And getting their stuff ready.

For something. Do we know for what?

I think we do.

I mean, Trump has already said many times what he is planning between now and January 20 when he may theoretically be expected to leave the White House. He isn’t even trying to hide it. He has a plan.

Trump has one goal: to stay president, no matter what it takes.

No matter what it takes. That means using every tool at his disposal – the justice system, the electoral college, the postal system, the media, the army – and now, lethal weapons.

Yes, guns. He has been telling his base for a while to get their guns ready.

To get their guns ready for what? For a battle to keep him in office. Don Trump Jr. called for armed protest. Disgraced Trump advisor Roger Stone has called for armed militia. And there have been many other signals to right wing groups to use lethal weapons to keep Trump in office.

In case you’re still on the fence about whether this is real, note that THIS IS ALREADY HAPPENING.  Right wing violent extremists have already been bringing violence to peaceful demonstrations. The right-wing ‘boogaloo boys’ have already been practicing violence on crowds, including killing. Some 66 instances of right-wing fanatics ramming their cars into crowds of peaceful protesters have already been recorded.

Donald Trump is planning for civil war.

And who is the enemy? Anyone who isn’t voting for him.

As Robert Reich wrote in The Guardian, Trump has spent the last four years completely demonizing anyone who isn’t in his base. He doesn’t speak about all of America. He speaks about ‘us’ and ‘them’, with ‘them’ being non-Trump supporters. This is the first step in genocide and civil war: dehumanizing the other. It is already happening.

Trump already speaks about the peaceful protests as if they are battles in this war, and in the debate as well talked about how ‘we got back Seattle, Minneapolis, we got it back.’ Who is WE? And who did ‘we’ get the cities back from? Trump has already framed protests against him as a military battle in a civil war. He is gearing up his base to use weapons against anyone who disagrees with him.

Are you terrified yet?

Trump’s enemies are clear: liberals, progressives, independent media, an independent judicial system, blacks, immigrants, women, and, yes, Jews.


Yes, Jews – 79% of whom voted Democrat in 2018 – are on Trump’s enemy list. He said it out loud last year when he derided Jewish Democrats as ‘disloyal’. Trump regularly expresses anti-Semitic tropes, in private as well as in public. He even repeats his anti-Semitic tropes in front of Republican Jewish audiences that laugh, hardy-har-har. Hardly surprising, then, that research from the Anti-Defamation League shows that the overwhelming majority of American Jews feel less secure under this administration than at any time in recent history, and one in four actively moderate their behavior out of fear of violence. The Atlantic calls anti-Semitism “The New Normal in America”.

Some Republican Jews continue to repeat their favorite talking point about how much Trump loves Jews. It is grotesque.

Trump couldn’t love Jews even if he wanted to. Trump is not capable of loving anyone other than himself. But Trump-supporting Jews, like so many members of cult worship, will do anything to protect their leader. Even while their leader derides them, mocks them, and uses them.

And ultimately spits them out.

You would think that Trump’s open call this week to the Proud Boys to ‘stand by’ might wake up more Jewish Trump supporters. After all, these are the Proud Boys whose founder boasted about ‘The Ten Things I Hate about Jews’. This should be the moment when the Jewish members of the Trump cult wake up and realize that they are being used. And that they may very soon face a violent reckoning.

But it doesn’t seem to be happening.

As I said, it’s grotesque. Jewish support for Trump is grotesque.

So what is Trump’s next step in his game plan? Polling stations.

The next stage in Trump’s violent civil war is around the elections. The trump world is seeing calls for guns at polling stations to intimidate voters, which Trump also encouraged during this week’s debate.

Trump is about to go all out. There are no more barriers for him, nothing stopping him or standing in his way. His call years ago that he could stand on Fifth Avenue and kill someone has proven to be a self-fulfilling prophesy over and over again. He has all the power and all the motivation to do what he must to stay in power.

And let’s understand this: what we have seen until now over the past four years is only the warm-up.

Let’s remember that four years ago, Trump wasn’t even that interested in being president. He was shocked when he discovered he won. Melania reportedly cried because he promised her that she wouldn’t have to live in the White House. Back then, it was something of a joke.

But now, it’s real. Now, Trump is not playing around. He not only likes being in the White House and all the power it gives him. He also has a lot to lose if he leaves. He faces criminal trial on a number of fronts. His tax returns alone put him and his entire family at risk of prosecution, maybe even jail.

And considering that he owes over $1 billion to unknown entities – probably including Putin, Turkey, and who knows who else – he may also be in some trouble with debt collectors for all we know.

We are standing at the brink of something that we have not yet fully envisioned. Trump has a plan, probably several.

So what can we do to be ready?

Right now, the most urgent thing you can do is vote. If you can vote in the American elections, do so immediately. Cast your vote for Biden and Harris – vote as if your life depended on it. Because it just may.

For more information on voting, contact Democrats Abroad-Israel at info-israel@democratsabroad.org

About the Author
Dr Elana Maryles Sztokman is one of the founders of Kol Hanashim, the new women's political party in Israel. An award winning writer, leading Jewish feminist thinker, educator, social activist, indie publisher, and overall spiritual seeker, she has been involved in the movement for gender equality in Israel for 25 years, and has worked with many organizations and communities. She has written four books on gender and society, two of which won the National Jewish Book Council award. She is involved in many causes, and currently serves as VP for Media and Strategy for Democrats Abroad-Israel.
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