03
Nov
16

put on your hood

donald_trump_kkk-620x412.

KKK’s official newspaper supports Donald Trump for president

by Peter Holley, The Washington Post

November 2, 2016

Among the small number of American newspapers that have embraced Donald Trump’s campaign, there is one, in particular, that stands out.

It is called the Crusader—and it is one of the most prominent newspapers of the Ku Klux Klan.

crusaderUnder the banner “Make America Great Again,” the entire front page of the paper’s current issue is devoted to a lengthy defense of Trump’s message—an embrace some have labeled a de facto endorsement.

“‘Make America Great Again!’ It is a slogan that has been repeatedly used by Donald Trump in his campaign for the presidency,” Pastor Thomas Robb wrote in the Crusader. “You can see it on the shirts, buttons, posters and ball caps such as the one being worn here by Trump speaking at a recent rally. … But can it happen? Can America really be great again?

“This is what we will soon find out!”

“While Trump wants to make America great again, we have to ask ourselves, ‘What made America great in the first place?'” the article continues. “The short answer to that is simple. America was great not because of what our forefathers did—but because of who our forefathers were.

“America was founded as a White Christian Republic. And as a White Christian Republic it became great.”

The Trump campaign sharply and swiftly criticized the article. “Mr. Trump and the campaign denounces hate in any form,” the campaign said in a statement Tuesday evening. “This publication is repulsive and their views do not represent the tens of millions of Americans who are uniting behind our campaign.”

Reached by phone, Robb told The Washington Post that while the Crusader wasn’t officially endorsing Trump, his article signaled the publication’s enthusiastic support for the Republican billionaire’s candidacy.

“Overall, we do like his nationalist views and his words about shutting down the border to illegal aliens,” Robb said. “It’s not an endorsement because, like anybody, there’s things you disagree with. But he kind of reflects what’s happening throughout the world. There seems to be a surge of nationalism worldwide as nationals reclaim their borders.”

The 12-page quarterly newspaper calls itself “The Political Voice of White Christian America!” and has a well-known white supremacist symbol on its front page. The latest edition includes articles about Jewish links to terrorism, black-on-white crime, and a man who claims to be Bill Clinton’s illegitimate child. An article near the end of the paper says that Trump’s candidacy is “moving the dialogue forward.”

The publication’s website says that its “number one goal” is to “stop white genocide.”

Since the earliest days of his presidential bid, Trump has attracted the support of prominent white nationalists across the country, setting off fears that a dormant fringe faction of the GOP base—one steeped in xenophobic and white supremacist rhetoric—would be folded back into mainstream politics.

In the early months, white nationalists said they were reluctant to publicly throw their support behind the controversial billionaire for fear of harming his strengthening campaign. But white nationalists said as Trump became more emboldened, they did too.

In January, Jared Taylor—editor of the white nationalist magazine American Renaissance—lent his voice to a robo-call recording urging registered voters in Iowa to back Trump. Those potential voters, Taylor told The Post, are part of a silent majority who are tired of being asked to celebrate diversity but are afraid of being labeled bigots.

A month later, Trump was embraced by former KKK grand wizard David Duke, which led to a controversial exchange between CNN’s Jake Tapper and the Republican candidate. Asked by Tapper to “unequivocally condemn” Duke, Trump pleaded ignorance.

“Just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, okay?” Trump said.

Tapper pressed him several more times to disavow Duke and the KKK, but Trump again declined.

“I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists,” Trump said. “So I don’t know. I don’t know—did he endorse me, or what’s going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists.”

That same month, Rachel Pendergraft—the national organizer for the Knights Party, a standard-bearer for the Ku Klux Klan—told The Post that Trump’s campaign offered the organization a new outreach tool for recruiting new members and expanding their formerly dwindling ranks.

The Republican presidential candidate, Pendergraft said at the time, provided separatists with an easy way to start a conversation about issues that are important to the dying white supremacist movement.

“One of the things that our organization really stresses with our membership is we want them to educate themselves on issues, but we also want them to be able to learn how to open up a conversation with other people,” Pendergraft said.

Using Trump as a conversation piece has been discussed on a private, members-only website and in “e-news, stuff that goes out to members.”

In addition to opening “a door to conversation,” she said, Trump’s surging candidacy has electrified some members of the movement.

“They like the overall momentum of his rallies and his campaign,” Pendergraft said. “They like that he’s not willing to back down. He says what he believes and he stands on that.”

In August, the American Nazi Party’s chairman, Rocky Suhayda, agreed, declaring on his radio show that Trump offers “real opportunity” to build the white nationalist movement.

More recently, Trump’s rallies have been marred by a series of racially charged incidents.

Last week, a black Trump supporter was booted from a North Carolina rally after he was mistaken for being a protester. Trump’s security detail escorted a man out of the rally as the audience cheered.

“You can get him out,” Trump said, making a sideways motion with his thumb. “Get him out.” The person in question turned out to be C.J. Cary, a North Carolina resident, who claims to be a longtime Trump supporter.

Cary, in a phone interview, said Saturday that he had gone to the rally because he wanted to hand-deliver a note to the Republican presidential nominee. He made his way to about 20 to 30 feet from the stage and shouted “Donald!” while waving his note around to try to catch his attention.

“Everyone else is waving Trump signs and I’m waving this white letter,” Cary, 63, said. He said that, coupled with the fact that he was wearing sunglasses during an evening rally to deal with his sensitivity to light, may have been what set people off.

Cary said a security official noticed he appeared to be a supporter but said he should not have disrupted the rally.

“He asked me, ‘What happened? You have on a GOP badge,’ ” Cary said. “I said, ‘I’m yelling at Donald, and he thinks I’m a protester.’ ”

Days later, Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, forcefully disavowed a supporter as “deplorable” for chanting “Jew-S-A!” at a weekend rally, the latest incident of anti-Semitic rhetoric used by some of the GOP nominee’s backers, according to Post reporters Jose A. DelReal and Sean Sullivan.

“[The man’s] conduct is completely unacceptable and does not reflect our campaign or our candidate. Wow,” Conway said during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “That man’s conduct was deplorable. And had I been there, I would have asked security to remove him immediately.”

The Saturday afternoon incident in Phoenix was captured on video that showed a man confronting reporters at the rally with shouts and a three-fingered hand gesture that resembled hate symbols flagged by the Anti-Defamation League.

“You’re going down! You’re the enemy!” the man yelled. As the rest of the crowd broke into a chant of “USA! USA!,” the man repeatedly chanted, “Jew-S-A! Jew-S-A!”

Conway agreed when CNN’s Jake Tapper asked whether the man’s behavior was “deplorable”—a reference to controversial comments made last month by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who was criticized for casting “half of Trump’s supporters” as a “basket of deplorables.” Clinton later expressed regret for suggesting that half of his supporters were racist or xenophobic.

As DelReal and Sullivan reported, the “Jew-S-A” incident revived long-standing anxieties about xenophobic and white supremacist rhetoric used by a fringe faction within the GOP nominee’s base.

Anti-Semitic slogans and language, they wrote, have become common among self-identified members of the “alt-right,” a fringe conservative movement that fashions itself as a populist and anti-establishment alternative to the mainstream Republican Party. Many within the alt-right have enthusiastically embraced Trump’s campaign message, which has included calls for mass deportations of undocumented Latino immigrants and for barring foreign Muslims from entering the United States.

Many of Trump’s critics have accused him and his campaign of stoking racial grievances as a political tool. Those accusations have intensified since Stephen K. Bannon stepped away from running Breitbart News—which he has called a “platform for the alt-right”—to become the Trump campaign’s chief executive.

“I wouldn’t want to tar and feather every Trump supporter with the anti-Semitic comments of one person, but it is the case that the Trump campaign has been embraced by the radical right in an unprecedented way this season,” said Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Trump came under fire over the summer for retweeting an image of rival Hillary Clinton alongside $100 bills and a Jewish star bearing the words “most corrupt candidate ever!” Trump later claimed that it was a sheriff’s star.

Trump’s son, Donald Jr., also drew attention for doing an interview with a white-nationalist radio host this year; he later told Bloomberg News that he did not realize the interviewer was going to be looped into the conversation. He was also blasted for posting an image on social media he said he got from a friend that included Pepe the Frog, a figure that has been appropriated by white supremacists. He told ABC News that he did not know about the association.

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Peter Holley is a general assignment reporter at The Washington Post.

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