Over the weekend, Donald Trump refused three times to disavow the support he received from David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the KKK.
It’s no coincidence that Trump would refuse to disavow the KKK as white primary voters in a number of Southern states are set to cast their ballots during today. You can’t disavow someone you’ve had a long relationship with, and the fact is that white supremacists like Trump because he tells them exactly what they want to hear. And in turn, Trump earns their support for his campaign.
One of Trump’s earliest supporters was Alabama’s Jeff Sessions, undoubtedly one of the loudest anti-immigrant voices in the Senate. Sessions has not only been on record as working with a number of anti-immigrant groups sponsored by white nationalists, but tanked his own federal judge nomination in 1986 over accusations of “racial insensitivity,” once telling a white civil rights lawyer that he was a “disgrace to his race.”
Then there was Sessions’s “joke” that he “used to think [the KKK] were OK” until he found out some of them were “pot smokers”.
Even before his Presidential announcement, Trump has been making claims that appeal to the most extreme fringe of the right. Trump, along with Maricopa County’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio, was the leading voice in claiming that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States, and that his birth certificate was a fraud.
Since his campaign announcement, Trump has lifted up the messages of white supremacists, sharing a number of tweets from “white genocide” accounts (including one that used as its profile image a variation on the swastika), as well as false statistics about “Black on white” crime.
“Each time Trump was asked on Twitter about his white nationalist supporters, the candidate, who is ready to respond, day or night, to critics of his debating style or his golf courses, simply ignored the question,” noted the New Yorker.
Meanwhile, the support his campaign has received from white supremacists is undeniable. When Sessions campaigned with Trump in Alabama, an audible yell of “White power!” was captured by cameras in the audience (in response, a Trump campaign spokesman said rallygoers were “very receptive” to Trump’s message). And during the Iowa caucuses, a white nationalist group flooded voters with calls urging them to vote for Trump. The same happened then in New Hampshire. And online, websites belonging to white nationalists and radicals have had increases in traffic in support of the candidate.
The founder of Stormfront, “the most prominent American white supremacist website,” recently said “Trump has helped drive a steady increase in traffic in recent months – including 30-40 percent spikes when the businessman makes news on immigration or Muslims – that is compelling him to upgrade his servers.”
Meanwhile, when questioned about the support he’s received from the likes of these groups, Trump simply said, “People like me across the board. Everybody likes me.”