After initially refusing to condemn an endorsement from former KKK leader David Duke, Donald Trump has faced a series of questions about why his campaign has been so embraced by Neo-Nazis and Klansmen. We speak to Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University in San Bernardino. Levin talks about encountering Trump supporters at a recent rally held by a chapter of the Klan in Anaheim known as the Loyal White Knights, or LWK.
Watch: Video and full transcript below
AMY GOODMAN: Can we get your response, Brian Levin, to what you watched last night in Detroit, the Republican debate, the 11th, I think it was, now down to the four candidates vying to be the Republican presidential candidate nominee?
BRIAN LEVIN: What I found disturbing was that with all the rhetoric coming from Republicans of goodwill—if you listen to, for instance, George W. Bush when he visited a mosque after 9/11, John McCain when he was on the campaign trail and Arabicphobic comments were made, even a speaker of the House tried to say, "Look, we have to put a line in the sand with regard to white nationalists, Klansmen, neo-Nazis." It was a footnote. It started and said, "Would you disavow."
And what I think needed to be done was something by all the candidates, not to retreat from their positions—we’re a nonpartisan center—but to say, "There is a line that we draw, and that line is against white supremacists, white nationalists and neo-Nazis," because I have not seen, in the decade that I’ve been researching this, a successful mainstream candidate having the endorsement of a virtual who’s who of Klansmen, white nationalists and others. We’re talking about not just people like David Duke, but folks from the Loyal White Knights, Infostormer, Daily Stormer, Stormfront. It is a tidal wave of support.
And it is because there are not policy messages that appeal to the white supremacists and white nationalists, but rather the xenophobic and racist tones, where Mexicans are labeled as criminals, and Muslims are broadbrushed to an extent that they not only should be excluded from coming into the country, but this not even dog whistle that there should be some sociopolitical exclusion of Muslims. This is a terrible time for the party of Lincoln.
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