Experts respond after President Trump fails to condemn white supremacist groups at debate

Experts respond after President Trump fails to condemn white nationalist groups at debate
Posted at 8:23 AM, Oct 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-01 08:23:41-04

The country is still buzzing about Tuesday’s presidential debate, in particular, a moment when President Trump refused to condemn white supremacist groups.

“I’m willing to do anything, I want to see peace,” Trump said.

“Well then do it, sir,” said moderator Chris Wallace.

“Say it. Do it. Say it,” said formr Vice President Joe Biden.

“You want to call them – what do you want to call them, give me a name. Give me a name,” Trump said. “Who do you want me to condemn?”

“White supremacists and right [sic] militia,” Wallace said.

“Proud Boys,” Biden said.

“Proud Boys-- stand back and stand by,” Trump said.

The Anti-Defamation League said after that, the Michigan Proud Boy chapter immediately incorporated the president’s words into their logo.

“The answer was not an immediate and resounding ‘yes I condemn white supremacy.’ That is a very big concern. It’s a concern for me at ADL and it should be a concern for every person in the country,” said ADL Michigan Director Carolyn Normandin.

Normandin says the Proud Boys can be found all over Michigan, and she says the ADL considers them dangerous.

“It’s a hateful group, it espouses ideologies of misogyny and white supremacy and anti-Semitism,” Normandin said.

Meanwhile, local political consultants say that while the president’s comments may fire up his base supporters, they can have the opposite effect with other voters.

“That is going to drive the Black and brown communities to the polls even more," said Detroit political analyst Mario Morrow. "I think he made a crucial mistake by not condemning white supremacy. This is something that he had a clear opportunity to capture some of those undecideds.”

“Whatever he needs to say, whatever he believes will help him win, he will say it. He has said some racist things, and he has said some things that don’t sound so racist,” said Wayne State University Sociology Professor Kahari Brown.

Brown studies race, religion and politics. He says he doesn’t like that Trump failed to condemn white supremacist groups, but he also says both candidates lost a major opportunity to talk about issues that matter to African American voters.

“It’s a form of political theater,” said Brown about the Proud Boys reference. “When you ask people in surveys what are the issues that are most concerning to you, it’s the economy, it’s public education for African Americans, it's public safety. These are the issues. The fact that there are wide disparities in the quality of life on these basic bread and butter issues, these are the racial issues that most African Americans talk about and think about on a regular basis.”

Meanwhile, the ADL Michigan says anti-Semetic incidents have increased seven-fold since 2015. They’re hoping everyone can just take a breath and stop encouraging any group that’s driven by hate.