History of White Supremacy and Donald Trump

By Mark Liu

With the election of the next U.S. President coming November 8th, voters will be faced with an important decision about the direction of our country. While there has been much coverage in the Chinese newspapers of the two main candidates, Hillary Clinton of the Democratic Party and Donald Trump of the Republican Party, there has not been enough attention paid to the extremely anti-immigrant and racist views of Donald Trump and their roots.

As a candidate for President, Trump has squarely placed the blame for America’s problems on immigrants and people of color. In a speech talking about Mexican immigrants, he said, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” While data shows no evidence of immigrants committing more crime than native-born Americans, Trump proposes to build $10 billion wall between Mexico and the U.S. to keep immigrants out. He also plans to ban all Muslims from immigrating to the U.S., make it harder for immigrants to legally come to the U.S. and to end birthright citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants. He also has said that he believes that global warming is a plot “created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.”

While Trump’s ideas are out of the norm of American political discourse, they are not new to America. Blaming immigrants and people of color for America’s problems has deep roots and is supported by many white supremacist groups. White supremacists believe that white people are superior to other races. Throughout America’s history, white supremacy has justified inequality, slavery, and the killing of thousands of people of color. For example, when America was founded, only white men were allowed to vote and own property. The slavery and treatment of blacks as property was legal. Blacks were beaten, maimed, killed, and raped regularly by their owners under the law.

After the U.S. Civil War in 1865, slaves gained their freedom in the U.S. and were afforded more rights than ever before in the country before. With status of blacks elevated, whites thought their power and influence eroding and exerted their dominance over blacks. During this time period the Ku Klux Klan was founded, the U.S.’s largest and most famous white supremacist group. Groups of whites would dress up in white robes and terrorize blacks, killing and torturing them in gruesome manners. It’s been estimated that almost 4000 blacks were lynched (killed by action of a mob through a hanging) from 1877-1950 in the South without any repercussions for the murderers.

Around the same time as blacks, began to gain their freedom, violence was also extended to other groups of color being blamed for the problems of whites. With a bad economy and joblessness rates up, demonization and blame was placed on Chinese Americans in California and other states on the western part of the United States. Politicians, writers, and labor leaders referred to Chinese as machines, monsters, and rodents who were stealing jobs from white Americans. Groups inspired by the Ku Klux Klan carried out attacks on Chinese and their employers, beating and robbing them. In Los Angeles in 1871, 18 Chinese were killed by a mob of 500 people, the largest mass lynching in the U.S. Eleven years later, the U.S. passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first and only law to specifically exclude an ethnic group. More than 100 years later, Trump is proposing a similar ban on Muslims.

It is now the same groups that attacked and killed blacks, Chinese and others that are embracing Trump. David Duke, former top leader of the Ku Klux Klan, said Trump was the best candidate for President and inspired him to run for public office himself. Another white supremacist leader says Trump’s campaign has been their greatest outreach tool. While Trump has tried to plead ignorance to the support of white supremacists, he has also shared images and quotes from white supremacists on his social media accounts.

Trump’s ideas and rhetoric are part of a long history of white supremacy in the United States. They are dangerous and violent. Already there are hundreds of reported hate crimes attacks on Muslim Americans since the start of Trump’s presidential campaign, the most since after 9/11. When Trump promotes his campaign slogan of “Make America Great Again,” we must ask ourselves what “great” America does he want to go back to and for whom. The America Trump wants to bring back is one that is much more oppressive and hateful towards people of color and immigrants. When you cast your ballot on November 8th, do not vote to support hate.

(Sources: Boston Globe, New Yorker, New York Times, Washington Post, Wikipedia.)