"Donald Trump's campaign statements...have shown that our views are not so unpopular as the Political Correctness crowd have told everyone they are!"
These are the words of head of the American Nazi Party, Rocky J. Suhayda. He and many other leaders of American hate groups have joined together in supporting the Republican Presidential Candidate in his run for office.
With the presidential election now just days away, it is tempting to be relieved that our national nightmare is coming to an end. Trump, after all, has been consistently slipping in the polls. The New York Times forecast currently has Hillary Clinton at around a 90% chance of winning, as of Thursday, October 27th.
With Trump so close to defeat, it’s easy to believe that a Clinton victory will put an end to the madness, and that all of the hateful rhetoric of his campaign can be forgotten.
This view ignores the fact that America was incredibly divided, and in many cases incredibly radical, before Trump ever proposed building a wall. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that there are currently 892 active hate groups in the United States. There is no plausible reason that they would all ever suddenly cease to exist. After all, Trump did not create white nationalism; he simply become a symbol for it.
To make matters worse, during his meteoric rise to the top of the ticket, Trump has emboldened hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Even David Duke, former Imperial Wizard for the Klan, has continually claimed to be a strong supporter of Trump. Trump, to his credit, has tried to distance himself after intense media scrutiny.
The problem with hate groups is that they often support or even perpetrate mass violence against minorities, women, and other vulnerable sects of society. If (and arguably, when) he loses his grasp on the White House, Trump will have still done enough damage by energizing white supremacists and racists. His words have contributed to a resurgence of hate, according to Heidi Beirich, the director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Intelligence Project.” This is because when he speaks out on national television on proposals like banning all Muslims from entering the United States, he makes these radical ideas seem “mainstream,” and thus validates them in the minds of those listening.
In May, for example, the Leader brothers were arrested in Boston for urinating on the face of a Hispanic homeless man and then beating him brutally with a metal pole. Authorities say that one of the brothers explained of his violent act: “Donald Trump was right. All these illegals need to be deported.”
There has also been an incredible rise in homegrown terrorism over the election cycle. Homegrown terrorism, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, is any extremist violence perpetrated by American citizens or legal U.S. residents. In the past year alone, there has been a litany of thwarted and successful radical-right terror plots.
As recently as October 14th, a group of men belonging to the “Crusaders,” a militia group with strongly held anti-immigrant beliefs, attempted to bomb a Kansas City residential building that housed 120 Somali immigrants. The men had been stockpiling weapons and explosives for months.
Now, sensing impending defeat, Trump supporters are warning of a “revolution” if Clinton wins, according to an October 27th New York Times article. This comes only days after Trump announced in the third Presidential Debate that he would not accept the results of the election, but only if he loses. His supporters’ threats, combined with his inflammatory comments, hint at more violence and instability to come in the days following November 8th.
With experts now warning that the real terror threat to Americans is from our fellow citizens, it is time to be diligent. If Trump loses, it is not enough to denounce him and move on with our lives. We must make sure to turn our attention away from his attention-seeking brand of misogynistic, Xenophobic, Islamophobic and ableist outbursts.
In addition, Clinton will need to address the Trump issue, while condemning him. Her role in mending the wounds this election cycle has cast on Americans is critical to ensuring that the 2020 election does not follow a similarly brutal path.
- Claudia Franke