Patriot Front, a white supremacist group with members across the U.S., marched in New York on Saturday, according to several videos posted to social media. That march caused many X users to insist, without evidence, that Patriot Front is actually a fake group started by the FBI to stir unrest in the country. X owner Elon Musk even joined in on the conspiracy theory speculation, suggesting a photo showing Patriot Front members getting arrested in 2022 was somehow suspicious.
“This does seem odd. Why no mask removal after arrest?” Musk tweeted on Saturday in response to an X user called Champagne Joshi.
Joshi referred to the hate group as “Fed Front,” asking in a tweet, “How many times have you seen a group of masked men dressed exactly the same, handcuffed with not one masked pulled off to reveal their identity? This is aimed at gullible libtards who want to believe these are ‘white nationalists’ bc it affirms their worldview and it’s an election year.”
But there’s no evidence that Patriot Front is anything but a white supremacist organization, as defined by the ADL. And despite their face coverings, the identities of many Patriot Front members were revealed have become public knowledge in recent years.
In fact, the photo Musk responded to on Saturday was from the 2022 arrest of 31 Patriot Front members in Idaho who were allegedly planning to riot at an LGBT Pride event in the city of Coeur d’Alene. Those men were unmasked as they were being arrested, as video available on X proves.
Thanks to those arrests, 31 of the Patriot Front members had their identities revealed, and there has yet to be any credible evidence presented that any of those men were agents of the federal government.
At least seven of the Patriot Front members who descended on Idaho have been found guilty of intent to riot, with an additional 15 pleading guilty, according to local news station KREM2. Two of the Patriot Front members have had their charges dismissed.
Patriot Front advocates for the creation of a whites-only country and it shows up for rallies advocating a range of far-right positions, including hatred of Jewish people, opposition to LGBT rights and advocacy against legal abortions, according to the ADL. Patriot Front was founded in 2017 and has staged protests in cities across the country ever since. The members wear khakis and blue shirts, while often covering their faces with white masks. And it’s those face coverings that have allowed the conspiracy theory that they’re actually a bunch of federal agents to proliferate online.
Right wing influencers on X frequently insist Patriot Front is a fake group, with many suggesting the plan is to sow discord and racial hatred among Americans. Jesse Kelly, a right-wing radio host, made assertions on Saturday that are typical of the worldview that Patriot Front couldn’t possibly be a real group operating in the U.S., despite a long history of racist organizations in this country, from the Ku Klux Klan to the German-American Bund.
“The story isn’t that these are feds. Everyone knows that by now. The story is, as it often is, why? Why would the feds run an op like this? Ask yourself that question. You won’t like the answers,” Kelly tweeted on Saturday.
All the available evidence points to Patriot Front being a very real hate group with very real members, as we learned after the arrests in Idaho. And until other evidence is presented, there’s no reason to believe they have any other motivation than to create an all-white country that’s hostile to anyone who stands in their way.
Elon Musk didn’t respond to questions emailed to X on Saturday. I’ll update this post if I hear back.