To Be Expected

Donald Trump’s history of hate speech makes his KKK response unsurprising.

Donald Trump’s History Of Hate Speech Makes His KKK Response Unsurprising

Donald Trump is embroiled in controversy again after he refused to denounce the KKK and other white supremacy groups. Last week, Trump earned the support of former KKK leader David Duke who said voting for anyone but Trump “is really treason to your heritage.” After initially disavowing Duke, Trump changed his tune and said he would need to research the people and groups concerned before condemning the racism of Duke and other white supremacists.

Trump has since tried to walk back his comments claiming (falsely) that he doesn’t know who Duke is. Trump’s comments have sparked harsh criticism from his GOP peers. Fellow GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz—who suggested allowing only Christian refugees into the United States—tweeted: “Really sad. @realDonaldTrump you’re better than this. We should all agree, racism is wrong, KKK is abhorrent.” While former presidential candidate Mitt Romney was even harsher tweeting: “A disqualifying & disgusting response by @realDonaldTrump to the KKK. His coddling of repugnant bigotry is not in the character of America.”

Trump’s failure to condemn the KKK is unacceptable but it is not surprising. Hate speech has been a staple of Trump’s presidential campaign from the very beginning. Here are just a few examples of his extreme rhetoric that make his latest comments unsurprising:

  • July 2015: Trump announces his candidacy, calling Mexicans “rapists” and drug dealers. From the moment his campaign began, Trump has touted hateful rhetoric. In a speech announcing his candidates he said: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
  • November 2015: Trump suggests putting mosques under surveillance. In defense of his comments against allowing Syrian refugees in the United States, Trump called for surveillance of mosques and said the U.S. should shut down mosques with “radical” leaders. “Well you’re going to have to watch and study the mosques, because a lot of talk is going on at the mosques,” Trump said on MSNBC. “Well I would hate to do it but it’s something you’re going to have to strongly consider,” he said. “Some of the absolute hatred is coming from these areas. … The hatred is incredible. It’s embedded. The hatred is beyond belief. The hatred is greater than anybody understands.”
  • November 2015: Trump suggests “roughing up” a Black Lives Matter protester. At a Trump rally in Birmingham, Alabama a Black Lives Matter protester was kicked and pushed to the ground. Trump later responded, “Maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.”
  • December 2015: Trump calls for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”In December he called for blocking all Muslim immigrants from entering the country. “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” he said.

But Trump’s hateful rhetoric is more than just offensive it also poses real threats to some of our most vulnerable communities. Trump’s rhetoric against Latin American immigrants led some of his supporters to verbally and physically attack Latinos and openly advocate for white supremacy. There was a similar uptick in hate crimes against Muslim-Americans after his call to ban Muslim immigrants. And from a national security perspective, anti-Muslim rhetoric like Trump’s plays into the hands of terrorists who wish to portray the West as hostile towards Muslims.

BOTTOM LINE: Donald Trump’s most recent hateful rhetoric is unacceptable and unsurprising. Trump’s hate speech has consequences beyond poll numbers. His extreme rhetoric jeopardizes the safety of some of the most vulnerable Americans and threatens to undermine our national security.

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