As usual, coverage of the Trump campaign’s refusal to disavow its white supremacist supporters — first after David Duke’s umpteenth endorsement of Trump, and now after the campaign lied about Donald Trump Jr. doing an interview with James Edwards — has been incredibly shortsighted. This sort of behavior doesn’t fit easily into a 24-hour news cycle.
In reality, Trump’s interactions with the white supremacy community have taken place over many months. Trump knows exactly what he’s doing, and he knows exactly what they want.
Consider this from Michael D’Antonio’s biography of Trump, Never Enough, as reprinted on Business Insider:
“Trump begins each day with a sheaf of papers detailing where and how often his name has been mentioned in the global press. The reports are typically too numerous for him to actually read, but the weight of the pages gives his sensitive ego a measure of his importance on any given day.”
Well, The Donald’s had a few months to review the evidence. Could he have missed every mention of the widespread white supremacist support of his campaign during these past few months? Of course not. This isn’t complicated: Trump is vague in his denunciations because he relies on their support.
This is an incomplete list. It hardly covers any interactions Trump — or his father — had with this community before this campaign began. It also omits most of the times Trump retweeted white supremacists.
Trump announces his presidential bid on June 16, calling Mexican immigrants rapists, killers, and drug dealers in front of a crowd of hired actors.
Vocativ publishes a summary of white supremacists who have already announced their support of his campaign: Andrew Anglin of The Daily Stormer (who writes that “Trump is willing to say what most Americans think: it’s time to deport these people”), the Council of Conservative Citizens (who later robocalled for Trump in Iowa), and a Facebook group called American White History Month, which posted an article supportive of Trump.
Even David Duke weighs in — he has repeatedly and continuously supported Trump this election season — saying on his radio show a week after Trump’s announcement that the Jew media would attempt to delegitimize Trump as a candidate. To which I say: guilty.
Trump tweets about Kathryn Steinle, a white woman killed by an immigrant in San Francisco whose case became a meme among the white supremacist community because of San Francisco’s status as a “sanctuary city.”
The Anti-Defamation League releases a report, “White Supremacists View Donald Trump as Champion of Disaffected Whites,” and includes a list of new Trump supporters: Peter Brimelow of VDare, Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute, and Kevin MacDonald of the American Freedom Party and the Occidental Observer, who writes:
“[The Republican Party,] the party of big business and the Israel Lobby, richly deserves to die unless it can appeal to the legitimate interests of its base—White America of all social classes, both sexes, and all age groups — all of which voted for Romney even though he hardly represented their interests.”
Salon publishes an insightful take on the political culture that lead to Trump’s rapid rise in popularity within the white supremacist community.
Scott and Steve Leader attack an undocumented homeless man in Boston. During the assault, Scott shouts “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.”
Craig Cobb, who unsuccessfully tried to convert the town of Leith, North Dakota into a haven for white supremacy, buys land in the North Dakota town of Antler. He tells WDAY-TV he wants to re-name the town after Trump.
David Duke more formally endorses Trump, again. Trump tells Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin and John Heileman, “I don’t need his endorsement, I certainly wouldn’t want his endorsement, I don’t need anybody’s endorsement.” He adds, in response to the claim that Duke is representative of a larger white supremacist block, “A lot of people like me. Republicans like me, liberals like me. Everybody likes me.”
Alternet profiles even more white supremacists who support Trump, notably among them Jared Taylor, publisher of American Renaissance, and Rocky J. Suhayda, chair of the American Nazi Party.
On Medium, Izzy Galvez publishes an extensive amount of work on “Donald Trump’s Rapidly Growing Fan Base of White Supremacists.”
The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos writes about Trump’s support among those he calls a “confederacy of the frustrated,” in partial reference to the role of the controversy over the Confederate flag in the aftermath of the racially-motivated killing of nine at Emmanuel AME Church. Osnos says “Trump’s language landed just as American hate groups were more energized than at any time in years.”
Ben Domenech of The Federalist wonders, “Are Republicans For Freedom Or White Identity Politics?
Buzzfeed publishes the well-researched “Top Racists and Neo-Nazis Back Donald Trump.”
Boing Boing, and then Talking Point Memo report on an unearthed New York Times article that mentions Trump’s father’s arrest at “a massive brawl between KKK members and police at a 1927 Memorial Day parade in New York City.”
Richard Spencer tells The Daily Beast, “Today, the Republican Party is haunted by the specter of White dispossession and ethno-politics […] This is what the Trump phenomenon is really about, and this is why Trump is loathed by establishment conservatives (FOX, the GOP, the ‘conservative movement’) and why he appeals—on an instinctive, unconscious level—to White Americans.”
Trump suggests Muslims celebrated 9/11 in the thousands in New Jersey and New York.
At a campaign rally, one man questions Trump: “We have a problem in this country, it’s called Muslims. We know our current president is one.” Trump responds: “Right. We need this question!” And proceeds to entertain the man’s theories on expelling Muslims from America.
Trump supporter Craig Cobb exhausts his vocabulary of racial insults in a phone call with Nightline anchor Brian Pitts.
Reminder: Trump is retweeting these people.
In an interview with New York, Don Black — founder of Stormfront, the first and perhaps best-known white supremacist site on the web — says that he would vote for Trump: “He resonates with many of our people, of course — and with white, middle America, which has been seething for many years now about the immigration issue. It’s been ready to boil over for a long time. Trump stumbled onto this issue and he’s benefiting from that. It inspires a lot of people, including a lot of our own people.”
Trump says he saw thousands of Muslims celebrating 9/11 in New York and New Jersey.
August Kreis III — of the Aryan Nation and the KKK — holds up a sign that says “Vote For Donald Trump” in a courtroom. Right before he’s sentenced to 50 years in prison for child molestation.
Trump defends his immigration plan by citing Eisenhower’s “Operation Wetback.” White supremacists celebrate in unison across the web.
Note: Slate’s Josh Vorhees takes good note in “Trump’s Week of Fearmongering and Falsehoods” of Trump’s swing to the far-far-right on the issues that matter to them.
Trump proposes banning all Muslims from the U.S. White supremacists lose their minds.
Trump is significantly boosting interest in white supremacist groups. Politico says Stormfront needs to upgrade its servers to keep up with the rush of traffic whenever Trump speaks.
The Daily Beast profiles William Daniel Johnson, chair of the American Freedom Party and fervent Trump supporter.
American Renaissance’s editor Jared Taylor robocalls for Trump in Iowa.
An analysis from LittleBird shows a trend that’s been reported on for months: Trump mostly retweets white supremacists.
White supremacist Matthew Heimbach pushes and spits at black attendees at a Trump rally, screaming “You’re scum, your time will come. You’re scum, your time will come.”
Trump refuses to disavow the KKK when asked about David Duke’s endorsement by CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Donald Trump Jr. gives an interview to James Edwards, a known white supremacist broadcaster.
Jason Edwards is also given press credentials to a Trump rally.
A few days after the KKK non-disavowal, Trump “officially” disavows both the Klan and David Duke.
This last and most recent development is extremely important, because it tells us a lot about how Donald Trump capitalizes on the white supremacist support his campaign has received while maintaining the line that he “disavows” such support.
Trump’s pattern of waffling on the support of this portion of his base — he only addresses racism head on after the damage of the first media cycle is done — is by design. As long as he shows that he’s angrier at the manipulative media types (what a familiar trope…) who always seem to be painting him into a corner with allegations of racism, the stronger the signal is to the racists themselves that his real displeasure is not with them, but with the media.
If the Trump camp is angrier at the media for creating a white supremacy controversy than they are at white supremacists, the message he’s sending to white supremacists is clear.
It’s why Jake Tapper thought his the interview squabble over David Duke would actually help Trump win his party’s nomination. It’s why Jason Edwards said of Trump, “I am supporting him […] He doesn’t need to support me” (emphasis his). Because Edwards understands the message Trump is sending to him and others: ‘The stupid media won’t let me openly support you, but I do.’
Who knows what Donald Trump actually believes. Probably: in nothing and no one except himself.
But the white supremacist support he encourages through his pathetic silence is a bigger indictment of his character than any of the thuggery that has filled all the rest of his life.
We should be very careful.
Photo: A picture of Donald Trump hangs outside a house in West Des Moines, Iowa. REUTERS/Jim Young