By PAUL HOLSTON Associated Press
WASHINGTON – Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his campaign are expressing ideas similar to those espoused by white supremacists, legal, media and civil rights experts say.
In addition, the experts said Wednesday, white supremacists are using the 2016 presidential elections to attempt to control the culture of politics. “Many white supremacists see this as their last stand for controlling the country,” Heidi Beirich, head of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said on a conference call with reporters.
Representatives of Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee did not return calls seeking comment.
Beirich said Trump has flirted with these groups and their ideals through some of his campaign statements and platforms, including building a wall between the U.S.-Mexico border; a proposed ban on Muslims entering the country; planning to join Marco Rubio at what they consider an anti-LGBT event in Orlando on the tw omonth anniversary of the Pulse massacre; and the failure to immediately denounce the endorsement of David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
Angelo Carusone, executive vice president of Media Matters for America, a liberal advocacy group, noted that Trump has retweeted posts from white supremacist accounts on Twitter.
Twitter is Trump’s biggest microphone, and his rhetoric correlates with some of the beliefs of white supremacy organizations and communities, Carusone said. Sophie Bjork-James, a Vanderbilt University lecturer and expert in white supremacist social movements, said white nationalists are attempting to increase their numbers through Trump’s campaign.
“They are organizing online to rebrand to respectable politics,” she said. “Instead of being racist, they try to be respectable, but they are also using conspiracy theories to control the media through their social media handles for white nationalist ideas.”