The Ku Klux Klan has received mainstream media attention for its perceived alliance with a presidential candidate and for a street fight that ended with three detractors stabbed.
This past weekend saw the Ku Klux Klan – often referred to as America’s oldest terrorist organization – receive many mentions in the mainstream media – via television, radio, print and digital – and some can argue the white supremacist group which sprouted up in the late 1800s has dominated the news cycles since Wednesday, February 24th, when Mr. David Duke, a former KKK grand wizard, said to the audience tuned into his radio program that voting for anyone beside Mr. Donald Trump, who since announcing his candidacy for the presidency has attracted the support of numerous white supremacists groups, is “really treason to your heritage.”
Though Mr. Duke hasn’t formally endorsed the Republican front-runner who has won three of the four early voting states, he does “support his candidacy,” and that was enough to get everyone talking, including other presidential candidates, like Mr. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Senator who’s seen as a long-shot in the race for the presidency, and Mr. Marco Rubio, a Florida Senator who since last Thursday at a GOP debate in Houston has shifted his behavior to become more Trump-like. Mr. Trump disavowed Mr. Duke’s support at a press conference where he was joined by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, though a day or two later during an interview on CNN, he pretended as if he didn’t know who Mr. Duke was.
Mr. Joe Scarborough of MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe,’ who has faced criticism for being too friendly with the New York City billionaire who plans to force Mexico to pay for a large wall that’ll mitigate illegal immigration, said that Mr. Trump’s refusal to condemn the Ku Klux Klan was disqualifying; Mr. Sanders, who lost decisively in the South Carolina primary to Ms. Clinton on Saturday, tweeted that “America’s first black president cannot and will not be succeeded by a hatemonger who refuses to condemn the KKK;” and Mr. Rubio’s super PAC today has launched an attack advertisement that highlights this very subject. Even those who were once allies of Mr. Trump have, in the wake of this controversy, come out against him.
Mr. Mitt Romney, a 2012 presidential candidate, tweeted that Mr. Trump’s “coddling of repugnant bigotry is not in the character of America.” And Ms. Nikki Haley, the Governor of South Carolina who Mr. Trump once characterized as a friend, said “I will not stop until we fight a man that chooses not to disavow the KKK. That is not a part of our party. That is not who we want as president.”
But the Ku Klux Klan hasn’t just acquired earned media because of the highly contested presidential campaign. Last Saturday, members of hate group ascended upon an Anaheim park for an anti-immigration rally where they were met with counter-protesters who attacked them, leading to a violent bloody brawl where KKK members, who arrived on the scene with signs that read “White Lives Matter,” stabbed at least three detractors with knives and the decorative end of a flag pole. According to police, six KKK members and seven counter-protesters were arrested following the incident. However, as of today, the jailed Ku Klux Klan members have been released, as police have evidence that they acted in self-defense.
As one would expect, given the history of the Ku Klux Klan, any mention of them elicits strong reactions from both sides of the aisle. And the fact that a former leader of a group with such a horrid history would find solace in Mr. Trump, who today claimed he still believes he’ll do well with black voters, means the Republican front-runner projects values and beliefs that are aligned with hate and white supremacy, and that, indeed, is disqualifying.
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