(Huffington Post) — Donald Trump had a history of racially insensitive remarks long before he kicked off his invective-filled presidential campaign by calling Mexican immigrants “rapists.”
But there is now abundant evidence that as a presidential candidate, Trump is poisoning American politics in a way he could not have achieved as a mere mogul-cum-entertainer. His ersatz presidential campaign is winning the support of America’s most prominent white supremacists and neo-Nazis — and in so doing, reviving dark forces in American politics that had become increasingly marginal in recent decades.
While Trump denies that he is racist and would no doubt disavow the support of white supremacist groups, his race-baiting, immigrant-bashing rhetoric has clearly struck a chord within their ranks. These predominantly white and male individuals and organizations — who sometimes call themselves “white nationalists” or defenders of “European American identity” — differ on some of the details, but are united in their belief that white people are under attack from the country’s growing minority groups and an elite power structure that does those minorities’ bidding. Although these white supremacists have a long list of groups they hate — including African Americans and Jews — they are mostly drawn to Trump for his anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies.
David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux klan and perhaps the most famous face of the American white supremacy movement, said that while Trump was “untrustworthy” he was also “the best of the lot” running on the GOP side.
“Immigration is an existential threat for our people in every way,” Duke said during his radio show on Aug. 18.
“I’ve said from the beginning I think his campaign is good in the sense that it’s bringing these issues to a discussion which we have to have in America,” Duke said of Trump’s high-profile immigration remarks. “And he’s continuing to move the envelope further and I think he understands the real sentiment of America.”
Trump’s immigration platform includes building a wall on the Mexican border, ending birthright citizenship, implementing mass deportations and tightening the rules on those seeking asylum in the U.S.
Duke said his views on Trump were “evolving” and at other points in his show pointed out some concerns with the hotel mogul, including what he called “deep Jewish connections.” Still, his overall assessment of Trump — or, at least, his immigration stance — was positive.
“I’m thinking more and more that this candidacy is a really good thing for us,” Duke said.
A spokesman for Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Duke is the just one high profile individual in a long line of similarly extreme figures who have warmed to Trump’s candidacy.