We're at 'Stage 2' of fascism: A historian explains why the GOP's embrace of right-wing militants is so dangerous
A militia member with a rifle in an open field (Shutterstock)

The Metropolitan Republican Club's decision to invite the far-right Proud Boys to an event last week may have crossed a dangerous line that puts America one step closer to embracing fascism, according to historian Robert Paxton.

The Daily Beast, in the course of reporting on the Metropolitan Republican Club's decision to host the group of right-wing militants founded by Gavin McInnes, cites a quote from historian Robert Paxton, who noted in a 2004 book that fascist governments often team up with fringe organizations that promote the use of violence for political ends.

"[American] skinheads, for example, would become functional equivalents of Hitler’s SA and Mussolini’s squadristi only if they aroused support instead of revulsion,” Paxton wrote in 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."

Although the Proud Boys have taken pains to distance themselves from white nationalist organizations like the ones that marched in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, they have gotten increasingly aggressive when it comes to sparking violent confrontations.

For example, the New York Police Department on Monday announced plans to arrest nine members of the Proud Boys for their role in starting a brawl last Friday outside the Metropolitan Republican Club.

And during his talk at the club, founder McInnes celebrated the assassination of a Japanese socialist politician even as he waved a sword at antifa protesters who were demonstrating against him.

Despite this, the Metropolitan Republican Club has not walked back its decision to invite McInnes and his followers to their event.