News & Politics

Is Trump Trying to Avoid Offending White Supremacists?

FILE - In this May 29, 2004 file photo, Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke speaks to supporters in Kenner, La. AP Photo/Burt Steel, File)

On Thursday, notorious white supremacist and former grand wizard of the Klu Klux Klan David Duke gave a ringing endorsement of Donald Trump, saying that voting against Trump was “voting against your heritage.”

Of course, the media was all over it. The implication was clear: since a white racist endorsed Trump, the candidate must be a white racist too.

The next day, Trump was asked at the press conference where Chris Christie endorsed him if he would disavow Duke’s support:

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Trump, how do you feel about the recent endorsement from David Duke?

TRUMP: I didn’t even know he endorsed me. David Duke endorsed me? OK. All right. I disavow, OK?

OK. Except in an interview with Jake Tapper on Saturday, Trump either suffered a convenient memory loss or didn’t want to disavow support from David Duke and the racists he represents.

CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Trump, “I want to ask you about the Anti-Defamation League, which this week called on you to publicly condemn unequivocally the racism of former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke who recently said that voting against you at this point would be treason to your heritage. Will you unequivocally condemn David Duke and say you don’t want his vote or that of other white supremacists in this election?”

Trump replied, “Just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, ok? I don’t know what you’re even talking about with ‘white supremacy’ or ‘white supremacist.’ So, I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know, did he endorse me, or what’s going on? Because, you know, I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about white supremacists. And so you’re asking me a question that I’m supposed to be talking about people that i know nothing about.”

Tapper replied, “But I guess the question from the Anti-Defamation League is, even if you don’t know about their endorsement, there are these groups and individuals endorsing you. Would you just say unequivocally you condemn them and you don’t want their support?”

Trump dodged again. “Well, I have to look at the group. I mean, I don’t know what group you’re talking about. You wouldn’t want me to condemn a group up that I know nothing about. I’d have to look. If you would send me a list of the groups, I will do research on them and certainly I would disavow them if I thought there was something wrong. But you may have groups in there that are totally fine and it would be very unfair…

Tapped interjected, “The Ku Klux Klan?”

Trump continued, “So give me a list of the groups and I’ll let you know.”

Tapper clarified, “I’m just talking about David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan here.”

Trump ignored the KKK part, and said, “honestly, I don’t know David Duke. I don’t believe I’ve ever met him, I’m pretty sure I didn’t meet him, and I just don’t know anything about him.”

Is Trump really unaware of what a “white supremacist” is? Trump has always been loathe to apologize for any insults or lies that he tells, so his claim that he doesn’t know David Duke or know what white supremacy means could simply be reflexive.

Or it could be that he doesn’t want to offend racists and kluxers.

His opponents pounced:

Realizing no one remembered that he had sort of disavowed Duke’s support on Friday, Trump tweeted:

So why disavow Duke on Friday and not know who he is on Saturday? People will draw their own conclusions, but this statement from a member of the Stormfront community gives us a hint about the method to Trump’s madness:

How many white supremacist voters are we talking about? Perhaps thousands who are stupid enough to let us know they’re ignorant haters. But probably a few million who keep it to themselves. Republicans have been accused for decades of blowing dog whistles for white southerners about race — after Democrats did it for 100 years.

Trump isn’t blowing a dog whistle. He’s sounding Joshua’s trumpet, telling the white supremacists it’s OK to hate.