Last night, as CNN’s Super Tuesday coverage wrapped up with die-hard Donald Trump apologist Jeffrey Lord’s claims that the Ku Klux Klan was a leftist organization. Lord, a CNN commentator and once a Reagan administration official, has repeatedly defended Trump’s flirtation with the KKK and propagated a form of revisionist history that denies, or at least downplays, the legacy of white nationalism in this country.
“The Klan is a terrorist organization,” said Jones, before being cut off by Lord.
“A leftist terrorist organization,” Lord interjected.
“You can put whatever label you want on it, that’s your game to play,” responded Jones.
“It’s history,” insisted Lord.
Newsflash for Lord. It is history. The Democratic Party and the KKK did have a cooperative relationship, but that was half a century ago, when Democratic voters were predominantly Southern white Dixiecrats. The South’s shift Republican was irreversible after President Kennedy’s decision to pursue civil rights legislation in 1963. Around the same time, the Republican party began making overtly racial appeals to Southern voters, accelerating the erosion of white Democratic support in the South.
In 2005, Ken Mehlman, the national chair of the RNC at the time, apologized for the Republican Party’s use of racial tension in the South as a political tool: “Some Republicans gave up on winning the African-American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization,” Mehlman said in a speech to the NAACP. “I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong.”
It is unlikely that the racists who repeatedly yelled at and shoved Shiya Nwanguma out of Trump rally support either Hillary Clinton’s or Bernie Sander’s policies. Both of them have decided to address racism rather than dress it up as an empty complaint of the “politically correct.”
Engaging in denial for it’s own sake does not erase the fact that the KKK targeted blacks to prevent them from voting in the Jim Crow South, nor that they attacked them and their allies during the Civil Rights era to slow socially progressive legislation — policies that sit firmly on the political left. If the KKK is a leftist terrorist organization, Trump must be redder than Fidel Castro.