Last summer, we introduced the “Trump Hate Map” – a comprehensive look at the locations and events where Latinos, immigrants, and other people of color have been harassed or attacked by Trump or his supporters. We noted that, to a degree unprecedented in recent American political history, Trump and his campaign’s dangerous blend of nativism, demagoguery, and authoritarianism were bleeding into civil society to dangerous effect and fostering a climate that demonized and dehumanized Latinos and other non-whites. We also worried that Trump’s campaign was helping to mainstream the hateful ideology of anti-immigrant and white nationalist movements. As Evan Osnos wrote in the New Yorker last August, the white nationalist and anti-immigrant movements view Donald Trump as a “standard-bearer,” capable of delivering “the appearance of legitimacy to a moral vision once confined to the fevered fringe.”
This week offers two new reminders of how the Trump campaign is helping to mainstream hate and hateful ideology – and, resultantly, why the Republican Party and its lawmakers and candidates must visibly and vocally break from Trump.
The recent conviction and sentencing of two brothers who engaged in a Trump-inspired hate attack on a Latino homeless man in Boston highlighted one of the most notorious incidents on the Trump Hate Map (joining incidents recorded in over 20 states, as the map documents here). As a blog post on the conviction and incident by America’s Voice’s Gabe Ortiz notes, (read the post in Spanish here), “Witnesses say the brothers were spotted ‘walking away laughing.’ When they were finally arrested and questioned, they told police that ‘Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.’ When initially informed of the attack against Rodriguez, Trump attempted to distance himself, but not before despicably telling reporters that his followers are simply ‘passionate.’”
Meanwhile, a new Wall Street Journal story today offers fresh evidence of how Trump’s campaign is mainstreaming noxious ideas central to the white nationalist orthodoxy. Earlier this month, Mother Jones reported that Donald Trump’s campaign selected a prominent white nationalist William Johnson as a campaign delegate ahead of the upcoming California presidential primary. Johnson resigned as a delegate following the controversy, but not before stating, “For many, many years, when I would say these things, other white people would call me names: ‘Oh, you’re a hatemonger, you’re a Nazi, you’re like Hitler’ … Now they come in and say, ‘Oh, you’re like Donald Trump.’’”
In the new Wall Street Journal story, “White Nationalists See Advancement Through Donald Trump’s Candidacy,” Beth Reinhard puts the Johnson controversy into larger and important context:
“White nationalists are hailing Donald Trump’s elevation to presumptive Republican presidential nominee, while also trying to boost their own political profiles and activity. Although Mr. Trump has spurned these extreme groups’ support, the level of interest within them for the White House candidate rivals that for segregationist George Wallace, who won five states in the 1968 election, and for conservative Republican Pat Buchanan, who denounced multiculturalism in the 1990s.
…People who identify as white nationalists, white-rights advocates or race realists say that even if Mr. Trump’s views don’t exactly line up with their own, they appreciate his willingness to speak his mind, regardless of the backlash. ‘The main reason white nationalists support Donald Trump is that he is the real deal,’ said Mr. [William] Johnson, the rejected California delegate. ‘I speak from the heart and so does he.’
…Civil-rights groups say Mr. Trump, despite his disavowals, has sent signals to people who hold racist views. His posture toward immigrants also has been repudiated by many leaders in his own party.
‘White supremacists and white nationalists have been marginalized in our political discourse, but Trump’s campaign is bringing them out of the woodwork and making it easier for them say certain things,’ said Peter Montgomery, senior fellow at the People for the American Way, a liberal group.”
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “For those Republicans supporting and capitulating to Trump, this is what you are enabling. You don’t get to pick and choose which aspects of his candidacy you are okay with – you own all of it. Republicans who know in their heart that Trump is antithetical to who we are as a country and the values we hold dear, and then decide to support him, will be marked for the rest of their lives as moral cowards. Those who take a principled stand and put country over party will not only be forever remembered for their courage, but also will be the very Republicans with the standing to build a GOP that sheds its coddling of nativism and adapts to the changing American electorate.”