PayPal draws controversy for banning Antifa alongside far-right Proud Boys
PayPal, which continues to ban controversial groups from its payment services, announced that it has cancelled the accounts of the far-right group known as the Proud Boys and its founder, Gavin McInnes.
The move on Saturday came after the company had already banned other far-right groups and leaders from using its website to raise funds. Founded by Trump ally Peter Thiel, PayPal says it will not tolerate groups that “promote hate, violence, or other forms of intolerance.”
But, in what critics call an effort to draw a false equivalency, PayPal also cancelled accounts belonging Atlanta Antifa, Antifa Sacramento, and Anti-Fascist Network, according to Mashable.
It’s not the first time the company has banned antifascist organizations — it’s already shut out Antifa Philadelphia, Antifa Arkansas, Belfast Antifa, and Rose City Antifa.
Antifa groups and the Proud Boys have notably clashed a number of times in recent months. In October, Proud Boys attacked antifascists who were protesting McInnes’ appearance at the Metropolitan Republican Club in Manhattan.
The following day, the two groups confronted one another again in Portland, Oregon. According to the Washington Post, “a man stepped out from a sea of red ‘Make America Great Again’ hats and punched someone in the opposite crowd in the face. Various fistfights and scuffles then started, with some people scrambling across the street, slamming into windows or collapsing to the pavement in a flurry of kicks.”
Members of the Proud Boys have been arrested for the violent attacks, but there’s no evidence of equivalent violence by Antifa organizations.
In a statement, a spokesperson for PayPal explained its decision to ban groups on both sides.
“Striking the necessary balance between upholding free expression and open dialogue and protecting principles of tolerance, diversity and respect for all people is a challenge that many companies are grappling with today,” the statement said, according to Mashable.
“We work hard to achieve the right balance and to ensure that our decisions are values-driven and not political.”
Critics on the left said the decision to also de-platform Antifa was pandering and would hurt the groups’ genuine efforts to raise bail money when activists are arrested and to support people during crises.
The Guardian noted that she pointed to McInnes’ history of promoting violence. “You cannot compare that to the anti-fascists who are trying to defend communities from that violence,” she added. “It’s really cowardly to not attempt to make a distinction between the two.”
Antifa groups said the decision was reminiscent of Trump’s comments after the Charlottesville rally when he said there were fine people “on both sides.”
“By removing antifascist & Proud Boys accounts at the same time, Paypal seems to be making a false equivalence & lumping completely different groups together as ‘intolerance’ and ‘hate’,” the Atlanta Antifa group said in a statement, according to the Guardian.
Twitter recently suspended the Proud Boys, which they say violated the social network’s policy against “violent extremist groups.” Twitter has not taken down most prominent accounts belonging to Antifa groups.R