Look, we haven't been nice to your candidate. When Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign, we stuck him in our Entertainment section, and since then, we've appended an editor's note to every story about him that links to all manner of vile stuff the guy has said. Let's stipulate that there are not many Trump supporters here at The Huffington Post.
But let's also put something else out there: We understand that people are hurting. Wages have barely budged for decades, and jobs have gone overseas. No matter who controls the White House or Congress, the rich keep getting richer and the cost of everything that matters -- college, day care, housing -- just keeps going up and up.
Meanwhile, things are changing fast. Just believing the same things your parents and grandparents believed gets you labeled a bigot now. We think that what you call "political correctness" is a part of that arc of history bending in the right direction, but just a few years ago, even Democratic hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton were against gay marriage, so we get that you might be feeling whiplash. We also know that most police officers get into the profession for the right reasons, they're underpaid and they're asked to solve social problems that would be better handled by better schools, a stronger economy or functional mental health providers -- but we put it all on cops, instead.
And we know that you've been lied to and betrayed. For nearly 50 years, since Republicans decided to make a play for the white working-class vote, they've been talking directly to you. Richard Nixon called you the silent majority, and now the slogan is everywhere at Trump rallies. He's promising to make America great again -- which was actually Ronald Reagan's campaign slogan, and the middle class has gotten a little more hollowed out every year since. In 2010, the tea party took over Washington and you were promised things were going to change, and they haven't.
Trump is giving a big middle finger to all of it, a clenched fist right to the face of the establishment. What could be more satisfying than that?
But take a look at this video from a recent Trump rally in Louisville, Kentucky.
The way that University of Louisville student Shiya Nwanguma is treated here is surely unacceptable in the eyes of all decent people. Nwanguma claims in a Facebook video that she was called a “n****r” and a “c**t” as people shoved her out of the rally on Tuesday. Judging from the looks on the faces of the people assaulting her, that's not a hard claim to believe. And her treatment was not an isolated incident.
We've since learned that the people responsible were not your average Trump supporters. They were avowed, out-of-the-closet white supremacists. Matthew Heimbach, a prominent white nationalist, admits he was one of the people pushing Nwanguma out of the rally. In a blog for the Traditionalist Youth Network, a white power group, Heimbach asserts that Nwanguma and the other black protesters provoked the ensuing altercation.
"I’ll avoid any additional Trump events to ensure that I don’t become a distraction, but the entire point of the BLM’s tactics is to push people until they push back," he writes. "It won’t be me next time, but White Americans are getting fed up and they’re learning that they must either push back or be pushed down."
Is this man your ally? Does he speak for you? If the answer is yes, then this letter isn't written to you. But if the answer is no, then it's time to do some soul searching.
Heimbach’s presence and actions are symbolic of the biggest issue at hand: White supremacists feel comfortable at, and are allowed to attend, Trump’s rallies and love his message. On Saturday, they came to Washington for a conference to celebrate the boost Trump has given to the white power movement.
You may not physically assault anti-Trump protesters, think Abraham Lincoln’s decision to free enslaved African-Americans was hasty or want immigrants immediately deported. But you know as well as we do that a portion of Trump’s fans do feel this way.
It may not be fair, but it has fallen to you to disavow these people. Your silence is condoning a violent environment. You’re serving as a welcoming committee of sorts to new racists hoping to enter the party. From a crass political perspective, it's self-defeating: You will never win a national election on a ticket with the Klan. But it matters from a moral perspective, too.
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. watched the unleashed dogs, the firehoses, the lynchings and bombings, the civil rights leader said something we should keep in mind today: "History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."
Trump himself took a tortured route there, but he has disavowed the support of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, the KKK and white supremacists. But those groups don't think he was sincere. So it's up to you to speak up. The next time you're at a rally and you see a black person or a group of any race or religion being treated roughly or even just rudely, do something. If you see something, say something. Form a wall to protect them. Let the white power groups know they're not welcome, their message is not welcome, and they don't have the silent support of Trump's "silent majority."
Or take it a step further. As you mingle outside, bring a sign that shares how you feel: No Hate. No KKK. No Racism.
We're a viciously divided country today, but maybe we can begin the path to reconciliation with a baby step. Surely we can stand united, shoulder to shoulder, against the Ku Klux Klan.
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