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From Proud Boy to Nazi in two months

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Jarrad Searby and Tim WIlms on their Brawler and the Brain podcast (Screenshot via YouTube)

Jarrad Searby was a Proud Boy in February, and he’s a Nazi now. It only took a couple of months. The transition is simple and that’s why it’s worth documenting.

To recap, Jarrad formed the Albury/Wodonga chapter of the Proud Boys a few months ago. He was using his MMA gym to train and recruit Proud Boys. A local Antifa page wrote about his activities on Facebook and he decided that everyone commenting on that post must be a card-carrying Antifa member.

He started visiting the homes and businesses of random Facebook commenters, including the home of an elderly man, banging on the door to try and get the retiree “Antifa” to come out. Jarrad’s stunt was dangerous to innocent bystanders, in the way that the far-Right usually is; it was also impotent and pathetic, in the way that the far-Right usually is.

His stunts proved popular with Nazis, including Tom Sewell, groomer-in-chief of National Socialist Network.

Jarrad had been perfect recruitment material for the Proud Boys because, like them, he didn’t really stand for anything. They train themselves for street fighting, obsessing over Portland footage of Antifa fighting patriots — but that’s activity, not principle. The only thing bringing these dregs together is a guiding fixation on “the Left”. They’re conned by constant tabloid media coverage propping up a caricature of a mythical leftist. It’s a bogeyman that sells papers, wins elections, shifts the Overton window for powerful people’s convenience and so on. 

These men are the waste by-product of that broad propaganda assault. Blokes like Jarrad haven’t been given the tools to understand that the perils of our society are better blamed on a very powerful class of oligarchs. They are told that their enemy is “the Left”. Their “left” doesn’t look like the union shop steward on their worksite, mind you; in an increasingly casualised workforce, they mightn’t even understand what a trade union does. Their “left” looks like a greenie on the television stopping traffic for no reasons, not locals protecting their town and natural surroundings from being bulldozed for high rises. Their “left” is a strange caricature.

Since 2016, my introduction to anti-fascist work, I’ve watched blokes like Jarrad appear time and again. He reminds me of the True Blue Crew from 2016’s patriot movement. The type of blokes whose entry point is videos of masked lefties fighting. They go, “come fight me, lefties” and that’s it, they’re in. They know how to blue.

Jarrad does a weekly video chat with the editor of far-right blog The Unshackled, Tim Wilms. The Brawler and the Brain, they call it. The dynamic is that Jarrad’s a moron and Tim is a self-hating gay man. (Internalised homophobia isn’t my place to talk about, but there’s really no other way to describe Tim. He refers to LGBTQI+ people like himself as “sodomites”. He supports the work of homophobes who want him dead.)

In March, after Tom Sewell attacked a Channel Nine security guard, that was surprisingly a bridge too far for Tim. He labelled the attack as “bad”, which is the most strident condemnation you’ll ever hear these hangers-on make about Nazi violence. Jarrad didn’t really want to say bad things about Tom Sewell, but under duress, he also agreed it was “bad”. He also said that he has Aboriginal heritage and Jewish family members and that he was not, therefore, a Nazi.

I think he liked the impotent tough guy image more than he cared about the Nazi stuff.

Australian Proud Boys didn’t support Jarrad’s stunt. With a government enquiry into far-right extremism happening at the moment, they didn’t want to get swept up in it and proscribed as a terrorist organistion. Jarrad Searby doing home raids on elderly men doesn’t exactly scream “not a terrorist”, as they told him he’d gone too far and they’re just a “social club” for “drinking buddies”. They gave him the boot.

Tom Sewell grooms lonely little boys. White supremacist organisers tell each other that the best recruitment demographic is little boys, 16-18 years of age. They’re malleable and have less to lose, they say. This obscures the fact that this is mostly the only recruitment demographic that they get. The impotent tough guy image appeals to little boys.

Jarrad isn’t a little boy but he was lonely after the Proud Boys kicked him out. He also possesses a distinct trait of many pack animals on the far Right: when they sniff out impotent tough guy stuff, they get the urge to follow it. Tom, meanwhile, views the Proud Boys as a fertile recruitment ground for Nazis. They are ideologically weak and therefore malleable.  All Tom needs to do is swap “the Left” for “the Jews” and “the West” for “the White man”. Most of the groundwork is already done for Tom by popular conservative propaganda.

Jarrad took down his Proud Boys flag from his little amateur home video backdrop.

All it really took was being rejected from the Proud Boys and one video discussion with the groomer. Sewell red-pilled him on why Jews did everything bad. Nazis are no better at understanding who controls the world than Proud Boys, but they, at least, have centuries of anti-Semitic conspiracy theory to draw from — Jews dunnit. To combat these evils, one must get together with teenage boys and hit the gym daily and learn how to fight. That’s stupid, but at least it’s Jarrad’s language — the thing that inspired blokes like him to join the far-Right.

He went to Sewell’s home clubhouse last week to train the boys in MMA. This weekend, they’re planning some actions for a “White Lives Matter” movement invented by U.S. Nazis. Sewell and his groomees are going for a bushwalk again and Jarrad’s doing a banner drop somewhere. He talks about the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory now and reckons the White race is dying. ‘Violence solves everything!’ was a title of a video he made the other day. And that’s it, really. He drifted into the arms of Nazis in two months.

Australian Proud Boys haven’t said anything in public about Jarrad. The official Proud Boys Telegram channel appears to have turned White supremacist. They don’t say much about that either. Local fascists are now emboldened enough to start abusing Tim Wilms, saying what all good fascists inevitably start saying about gay men. Tim and Jarrad still do their weekly video chat, but the fact that Jarrad cosies up with people who want Tim dead does not seem to come up in conversation. Strange! Presumably, Jarrad’s Aboriginal and Jewish loved ones have to avoid the subject, too. In their absolute ideological weakness, Nazis at least sound more convinced of themselves; the rest of the pack animals simply avoid criticising them.

None of these people have nailed any real answers as to who controls the world or who makes their lives worse, so they’re destined only to escalate as their plans fail them. They’re running in a race with imagined competitors, goading each other into worse impotent tough guy acts. I cannot fix the prevailing environment of conservative propaganda spun by the oligarchs, which indoctrinates fresh waves of these people. If I was “the Left” of their fairy tales, you’d think I’d have the power. But all I can do is post their stories here, ready for when they inevitably escalate some more.

Tom Tanuki is an online satirist, social justice commentator, writer and comedian. He has worked in anti-racist political comedy, most notably through his satirical group the Million Flag Patriots and anti-racist group Yelling At Racist Dogs (Y.A.R.D.). You can follow Tom on Twitter @tom_tanuki.

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