Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump shows no signs of abating, despite his divisive, racist rhetoric and the increased violence taking place at his campaign events—part political theater, part Nazi rally, part Ku Klux Klan rally. Rather, he is defending his hateful words and the actions of his supporters who have assaulted protesters. Not since the 1968 campaign of Alabama Governor George Wallace has the nation seen such racial hatred and violence emanating from a presidential campaign. The white supremacy of Trump supporters is raw and unfiltered, and here for the world to see.
“We’re not provoking. We want peace. … We don’t want trouble,” Trump told a large crowd in Bloomington, Illinois, as the Associated Press reported. His remarks came after a Friday rally in Chicago that he cancelled due to clashes involving his supporters, police and protesters. “We have protesters so mean. They are so bad,” Trump added, as Fox News reported. “Our people started swinging back, and the next day we are the bad guys.”
This past Friday, hundreds of protesters filled seats at the University of Illinois at Chicago for the Trump rally, which the campaign cancelled a half hour before it was scheduled to begin. Four people were charged in connection with unrest at the venue, according to CNN, with the police charging people with offenses ranging from aggravated battery to resisting arrest.
This comes as the GOP frontrunner faces primaries in Ohio, Illinois, Florida, Missouri and North Carolina that could determine whether he wins his party’s nomination outright with 1,237 delegates and without a brokered convention. Over the weekend, Trump blamed the media, protesters and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders for creating unrest this campaign season, defended his supporters for their rage, and characterized his critics as “bad people” that “do harm to the country.”
At a campaign stop in Kansas City, Missouri, on Saturday, Trump demanded the arrest of protesters. “I’m going to ask that you arrest them,” Trump said to the police, as CNN reported. “I’ll file whatever charges you want. If they want to do this … we’re going to go strongly for your arrests.” He added that arresting protesters would “ruin the rest of their lives” by giving them a “big arrest mark.”
“Once that starts happening, we’re not going to have any more protesters, folks,” Trump said. Police reportedly used pepper spray on peaceful protesters that evening.
@kcpolice As you can see, we were far from what happened and peaceful and lawful and he still walked up to spray us pic.twitter.com/9EECz8167Z
— Chris (@stokith) March 13, 2016
“We’re all together and we want to get along with everybody, but when they have organized, professionally staged wise guys, we’ve got to fight back, we’ve got to fight back,” Trump said in Dayton, Ohio, on Saturday. “They want me to tell my people please be nice, be nice. My people are nice,” Trump added. “They were taunted, they were harassed by these other people.”
The bellicose, acerbic and caustic candidate’s rallies have become increasingly vitriolic in tone, causing his security to be on edge, and his family to call for more protection, as the New York Times reported. In Dayton on Saturday, the Secret Service tackled a man who attempted to rush the stage. All the while, Trump has employed a new phrase—“Get ‘em out”—to replace his iconic reality show phrase, “You’re fired.” Moreover, the security tactics at his rallies raise serious questions about the rights of protesters, given the ejection of Black students at Valdosta State University in Georgia and other venues, and the assault on a young Black woman by white supremacists at a rally in Louisville earlier this month.
Meanwhile, Trump supports his equally racist and violent followers. He told Fox News Sunday that Americans are “angry” about years of bad trade deals, stagnant wages, a lack of jobs and other issues. “The people are angry at that,” Trump said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “They’re not angry about something I’m saying. I’m just the messenger.”
“Nobody’s ever been hurt,” he told Fox News regarding his rallies. “Some of these protesters are bad dudes. They swing and they punch.”
On Saturday, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement that he hopes “all Americans exercise their First Amendment rights” but “in a manner that is respectful of our fellow Americans.”
“As we go further along in this election cycle, I ask those on my side of the political spectrum and those on the left to engage actively in the political process in a manner that continues to make our democracy the envy of the rest of the world,” Priebus said. “Leaders and activists in both parties bear a responsibility to ensure that the discourse we engage in promotes the best of America.” However, the RNC chair made no mention of his party’s own role in fomenting racial violence and white resentment of Black people through a Southern Strategy, and the Tea Party and Birther movements.
Even as Trump the candidate is receiving a great deal of attention for his own words and actions, there is a need to focus on his supporters, who take us back to the Jim Crow era with their feeling of racial superiority, a disdain for Black people, and a willingness to kill us if necessary, and preferably for them, to make their point. Take, for example, 78-year-old John McGraw, who sucker punched Rakeem Jones, 26, a peaceful protester at a Trump rally in North Carolina.
As ThinkProgress reported, McGraw said: “The next time we see him, we might have to kill him. We don’t know who he is. He might be with a terrorist organization.”
Appearing on Meet The Press on Sunday, Trump said McGraw is someone who “obviously loves his country” and “frankly wants to see America made great again.” Trump also said he is considering paying the white man’s legal fees, and described the Black protester as “very loud, very disruptive.”
As Time reported in February, nearly one in five Trump supporters opposed freeing the slaves. A January YouGov/Economist poll asked respondents if they supported or disapproved of “the executive order that freed all slaves in the states that were in rebellion against the federal government,” also known as Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
In addition, exit polls from the GOP South Carolina primary found that 74 percent of voters approved of the Muslim ban, with Trump winning over 41 percent of people in that group. Further, nearly half of people favored the immediate deportation of undocumented immigrants, with Trump winning 47 percent of those voters.
According to P.P.P.[Public Policy Polling], 70 percent of Mr. Trump’s voters in South Carolina wish the Confederate battle flag were still flying on their statehouse grounds. (It was removed last summer less than a month after a mass shooting at a black church in Charleston.) The polling firm says that 38 percent of them wish the South had won the Civil War. Only a quarter of Mr. Rubio’s supporters share that wish, and even fewer of Mr. Kasich’s and Mr. Carson’s do.
Nationally, the YouGov data show a similar trend: Nearly 20 percent of Mr. Trump’s voters disagreed with the freeing of slaves in Southern states after the Civil War. Only 5 percent of Mr. Rubio’s voters share this view.
Further, while the P.P.P. poll found that 78 percent of Republican primary voters disagreed with the idea that whites were a superior race–with 10 percent agreeing and 11 percent unsure, only 69 percent of Trump supporters disagreed, according to Daily Kos.
This is not the first time that unwashed, uneducated, underprivileged whites–sometimes known as “low information voters”– have believed they are superior to Black people. This is a time honored tradition, as poor whites, following emancipation, were intent upon keeping themselves above Black people. They allowed themselves to be manipulated by wealthy white elites who cared nothing about them, and convinced themselves that Black folks were out to take their power, rape their women and steal what was rightfully theirs. The Jim Crow regime of lynching, of depriving Black people of voting rights and other measures was an effort by the white underclass to take back their country, just as we are witnessing today with the Donald Trump phenomenon.
“Continuing in this legacy throughout the 50s and 60s, their minions emerged from the back woods of the American south to resist desegregation, toting the Confederate flag as a badge of honor, forming White Citizens Councils and committing sadistic and often murderous acts of violence to neutralize the Civil Rights Movement,” wrote Jasmine Nelson last year in Atlanta Black Star. “In the end, these predecessors laid the foundation for the advent of a new millennial terrorist like Dylann Roof, a feeble coward who feared that an evolving America would strip him of the only significant quality he possessed—the virtue of whiteness.”
As Fivethirtyeight reported, Trump supporters adhere to a particular demographic. Typically they are white men without college degrees, and disproportionately come from the ranks of registered Democrats who vote like Republicans. Further, the level of white prejudice among Trump supporters is greater than among Cruz or Rubio supporters. It does not take much expertise in history or politics to understand that at the current trajectory, more racial violence from white supremacist Trump supporters is on the way.