Many Canadians were probably baffled upon hearing that five members of the Canadian Armed Forces were self-identifying as members of the Proud Boys.
They showed up with the British ensign flag and confronted indigenous protesters gathering at an Edward Cornwallis statue in Halifax on Canada Day.
The five have since been pulled from duty as military brass figure out what to do with them.
According to an article on the Southern Poverty Law Center website, the Proud Boys are a “pro-West fraternal organization”, which was created by Rebel Media's Gavin McInnes. He's also a cofounder of Vice but is no longer associated with the media group.
The organization has a Vancouver chapter with its own Facebook page. It rips into Justin Trudeau for supporting Muslims and for declaring that diversity is strength. The page also expresses disdain for indigenous protesters opposed to the Canada 150 celebrations.
The Proud Boys make a point of refusing to apologize for those who created the modern world. Perhaps this explains why they were eager to defend Cornwallis, an 18th-century lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia, who offered a reward of 10 guineas for every Mi'kmaq taken or killed.
McInnes has tweeted his objections to the media coverage, claiming that two of the Proud Boys are Native and one is gay.
Members of the Proud Boys are discouraged from masturbating and can only reportedly ejaculate if they are within five feet of a female and with her consent.
There's also an unusual three- or four-stage initiation ritual. According to the SPLC website, prospects must declare that they are a Proud Boy and once admitted, they wear Fred Perry polo shirts with yellow stripes.
"The second degree is a 'cereal beat-in' during which the new member is punched and beaten by current members until the plebe can rattle off the names of five cereals (you know, Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, Cheerios!)," the website adds. "The third degree reported involves 'adhering to the masturbation regimen and getting a tattoo,' blogger Will Sommer wrote in a recent post."
The SPLC website maintains that a fourth degree has been added: "brawling with antifascists at public rallies".
According to the SPLC, a new wing has been created called the Fraternal Order of Alt Knights, which is reportedly the "tactical defensive arm" of the Proud Boys.
Meanwhile, a recent article on the Manhattan-based pro–Donald Trump Halsey News site insists that the Proud Boys are often misrepresented by the mainstream media. Writer Katie Jensen claimed that they are multiracial and LGBT friendly.
"Typically, mainstream media equates chauvinism with sexism and their patriotism and nationalism for white nationalism even though the two are drastically different," Jensen wrote. "Western nationalism is simply a love for ones [sic] own country typically before other countries, for example, American nationalism often translated as 'America First.' White nationalism is defined as 'A group of sometimes militant whites who espouse white supremacy and advocate enforced racial segregation with a far right platform.' These are two totally different topics. The lack of comprehension of these facts has lead [sic] to The Proud Boys being labeled as a racist group."
She also stated that the Proud Boys "often back and support events centered around Trump, freedom of speech or conservative organized rallies and public speaking events".