I’ve been on both sides of America’s racial problem, first as a senior figure within the Klan and more recently as a campaigner against the vile creed they espouse. And I can say with certainty that the recent support for Donald Trump put forth by a pro-Klan newspaper is nothing new.
The Klan has a plan and a habit of getting mileage out of these mainstream politicians, tapping into the ones who are doing well and saying things on race and immigration, things that they believe in.
Just look at David Duke, the former Klan wizard who is now running for Senator in Louisiana. If you look at David Duke’s campaign, he’s tried to make out that he and Donald Trump are the same. Duke also said on Twitter the other day that if Trump loses it’s time for all patriotic men to do their job. He’s talking about militia groups, calling for them to take up arms and attack the federal government by force if Trump loses.
There’s no doubt Trump has benefited the racists and white supremacists through what he's said. He hasn’t said anything that’s not been said in the past 25 years – if you look at the bigger picture, his comments on Muslims and the wall with Mexico have been made by politicians all over the country. But his notoriety, the media circus that surrounds him, and the fact that he’s representing a major political party has added weight to what he’s said.
The KKK will be very happy to jump on the Trump bandwagon; they’ll be delighted with the coverage he’s attracted and how his words have whipped up tension. In fact I believe that, even if Trump had been black, the white supremacists wouldn’t be attacking him right now, because he’s playing into their hands. As long as the candidate helps their cause, they don’t care who it is.
But they’ll also be happy to adapt to the election result; they may have piggy-backed on Trump’s success but they’ll have no problem taking advantage of a victory for Hillary Clinton as well. If Trump wins they’ll jump on his bandwagon and say the momentum is now running their way. If Clinton wins they’ll say it’s an injustice that needs to be avenged, a call to arms.
A tweet from David Duke, demonstrating his desire to jump on the Trump bandwagon
We had race problems long before this election started, from when unarmed black men were being gunned down by policemen. That was a terrible thing. In February the Southern Poverty Law Center claimed the number of Klan-affiliated groups in America grew from 72 in 2014 to 190 in 2015. We’ve had Black Lives Matter, which has really stirred up the white supremacists, and they’ve responded with their own group, White Lives Matter. It couldn’t have worked out better for them.
Trump may have kicked up a stir with his comments but racial hate groups were enjoying a resurgence well before he entered the race for the White House. The disenfranchised working-class voters who are responsible for this resurgence may be supporting Trump tonight, but they’re going to keep spreading their hateful message whatever happens.
If people think a victory for Hillary Clinton will lance the growing boil of racial tension, they’re very much mistaken.
Scott Shepherd was once Grand Dragon of Tennessee and an Imperial Wizard before leaving the Klan. He now campaigns to increase awareness around racism. You can find out more about him by visiting his blog here.