Bill Knight column for Mon., Tues. or Wed., Sept. 26, 27 or 28
A friend of some 50 years took offense at Hillary Clinton’s Sept. 9 remark that half of Trump’s supporters are deplorable. My buddy said, “I was a school teacher; I was an officer in the U.S. Navy; I worked for 13 years with handicapped teen-age boys; I worked as a TSA security guard for Homeland Security. Forget her. Vote for Trump.”
Clinton had commented, “To just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables.’ The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic – you name it. Unfortunately, there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”
The rest of Trump’s backers are looking for change because of economic anxiety, she added, urging her supporters to empathize with them. The Right Wing outrage machine quickly went overboard with indignation, but research actually shows she isn’t far off. University of California-Irvine professor Michael Tesler and Washington Post pollsters show that Trump does best with those who express racial hostility, and Pew Research found that 58 percent of Trump supporters didn’t feel that the treatment of minorities was an important issue (compared to 79 percent of Clinton backers).
Regardless of exact numbers, there are well-known Trump supporters who are white supremacists, etc. A few days after the release of the remake of “The Magnificent Seven,” here are seven Deplorables, as reported by AlterNet Washington bureau chief Adele M. Stan, and they seem more like those who’d run roughshod over regular people than heroes on horseback out for justice:
1. Steve Bannon: Bannon was a Breitbart News executive this summer when Trump named him head of his campaign. During the GOP convention, Bannon bragged to journalist Sarah Posner that after he took over Breitbart News, it became “the platform for the alt-right” (alternative right, which considers conservatives too weak in promoting a white ideology).
2. Pamela Geller: A New Yorker who became prominent when she led the effort to block an Islamic community center planned for Manhattan, her vendetta stooped to falsely claiming Muslims engage in bestiality, reports the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which lists her “Stop the Islamization of America” organization as a hate group.
3. Alex Jones: A radio host who’s said that the 9/11 terror attack was conducted with government help (during the Bush administration!), as was the assassination attempt on Arizona Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords (maybe as a ruse to enact gun regulations), Jones also speculated that Texas Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’ father was part of the 1963 plot to kill President John F. Kennedy. Trump’s been a guest on Jones’ program and promised not to disappoint him.
4. Troy Newman: Trump backer and president of the anti-abortion Operation Rescue group, Newman in 2003 co-authored the book “Abortion Free” with Cheryl Sullenberger, who plotted to blow up an abortion clinic and was sentenced to a three-year prison term in 1988. The book says “that the government has a responsibility to execute abortion providers.”
5. Richard Spencer: Head of the National Policy Institute, Spencer calls for an “Aryan homeland,” according to the SPLC, and advocates for so-called peaceful ethnic cleansing. Spencer recently commented about Trump, “We’re inspired by him. This is what we want in a leader.”
6. Jared Taylor: Taylor has said that Trump should “concentrate on his natural constituency, which is white people.” Editor of the “racialist” American Renaissance magazine, Taylor in a radio interview said the alt-right rejects “the idea that all races are exactly equal."
7. Milo Yiannapoulos: The alt-right’s gay enfant terrible, according to Peter Montgomery from People for the American Way, Yiannapoulous made racist comments on Twitter, which banned him from posting.
There are other high-profile figures, from ex-Fox News chief Roger Ailes and author Ann Coulter to one-time Ku Klux Klan leader David Dukes and GOP “dirty trickster” Roger Stone, so – as Clinton campaign chair and Knox College alum John Podesta said – “It’s no surprise that Donald Trump is defending his most offensive views and extremist allies. This is the man who has spent 15 months insulting nearly every group in America.”
For her part, Clinton said she shouldn’t have generalized, but “I won’t stop calling out bigotry and racist rhetoric in this campaign. I also meant what I said last night about empathy, and the very real challenges we face as a country where so many people have been left out.”
And my old friend read about these ne’er-do-wells, and he came to see Clinton’s point.
“There are a bunch of nuts,” he said. “I am not surprised.”
[PICTURED: Photos of Trump and Bannon from forward.com.]