Left-wing publications are seizing on an interview the founders of Black Rifle Coffee gave to The New York Times in which they denounced far-right and other forms of extremism — the founders built their company by marketing strictly to pro-military, pro-police, conservative-leaning Americans.
Evan Hafer, a former Green Beret and CIA contractor who co-founded BRC with two other vets and government contractors in 2014, went hard for Donald Trump in 2016 and since. One co-founder, Mat Best, became well known among supporters and customers for military-and-bikini-themed YouTube videos featuring the company’s brand and pro-America, right-leaning messaging supportive of the Second Amendment.
In an interview with the New York Times Magazine that was published last week, Hafer made it clear, however, that despite his and his company’s conservative leanings, he and his co-founders don’t support legitimately racist organizations, including those on the right.
“How do you build a cool, kind of irreverent, pro-Second Amendment, pro-America brand in the MAGA era without doubling down on the MAGA movement and also not being called a [expletive] RINO by the MAGA guys?” he told the publication.
“I would never want my brand to be represented in that way, shape, or form because that’s not me,” he continued, denouncing white supremacist organizations and the far-right Proud Boys he says have “hijacked” the brand to an extent.
“The racism [expletive] really pisses me off,” Hafer said. “I hate racist, Proud Boy-ish people. Like, I’ll pay them to leave my customer base. I would gladly chop all of those people out of my [expletive] customer database and pay them to get the [expletive] out.”
Some conservatives online ripped Hafer and Black Rifle Coffee in general following the publication of the interviews, seemingly inferring the Hafer and his colleagues were making references to all of their right-leaning customer base.
“How to destroy your company in one easy step: give an interview to the New York Times trashing your customers,” Raheem Kassam, editor in chief of The National Pulse, wrote on Twitter.
“It looks like Black Rifle Coffee, a company which became famous because of conservatives, is now trying to distance themselves from conservatives,” Brigitte Gabriel, founder of the influential conservative group ACT for America, added. “I never tried their products before and it looks like I never will.”
The NY Times piece also attempted to conflate the use of the brand’s imagery and logos in certain circumstances as indicative of all Trump-supporting conservatives. The piece noted that then-17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who has been charged with murdering two rioters in Kenosha, Wis., who were attacking him at the time, was sporting a Black Rifle Coffee t-shirt in a picture posted by his legal team after he was released on bond.
The Times mag piece also noted that some counter-BLM protesters were wearing similar BRC-logoed clothing last summer and that a Jan. 6 rioter photographed carrying zip-ties was also wearing a cap with a design similar to what the company sells.
But in fact, the BRC founders pointedly weren’t talking about all conservatives — just extremists, and that, presumably, includes extremists on the left, as well, as Best hinted.
“Every brand, name the brand, it was probably there: Walmart jeans, Nike shoes,” Best, 34, the company’s executive vice president, told the magazine regarding what some Jan. 6 demonstrators were wearing during the incident. “And then it’s like one patch from our company.”
“There’s certain terrorist organizations that wear American brands when they go behead Americans. Do you think they want to be a part of that?” Best continued. “And I’m not drawing a parallel between the two. I’m just simply saying there are things in business, when you grow, that are completely outside your control.”
In addition, it should be noted that while organizations like BLM that were founded by left-wing extremists who have openly stated they are “trained Marxists” — Marxism being a political ideology that is diametrically opposed to American republicanism and capitalism — large corporations and professional sports leagues who embrace them are not generally scrutinized in a similar fashion by the mainstream media.
Even though, “[m]ore often than not, companies are aligning themselves with liberal causes,” the magazine reported.
Still, Hafer told the Times: “What I figured out the last couple of years is that being really political, in the sense of backing an individual politician or any individual party, is really [expletive] detrimental. And it’s detrimental to the company. And it’s detrimental, ultimately, to my mission.”
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