Last night during the 2020 presidential debate, President Donald Trump and Sen. Joe Biden spoke on the Supreme Court, COVID-19, the economy and “race and violence in our cities,” and more, as shared by the Commission On Presidential Debates. The event is being described by many as a “shitshow” for how frequently the president spoke over Sen. Biden, general callousness, and also the president’s refusal to decry white supremacy.
“Are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and groups to say they need to stand down and not add to the violence and number of the cities as we saw in Kenosha and as we’ve seen in Portland?” asked the debate’s moderator, Chris Wallace. This was an opportunity for Trump to say that he could not support white supremacy in any form and acknowledge their penchant for violence, but instead, he blamed leftist organizations.
“Sure. I’m willing to do that,” Trump began. He then noted, “Almost everything I see is from the left wing. Not from the right wing.” This statement is appalling, given that we are only one month out from Kyle Rittenhouse shooting multiple people at a protest for Joshua Blake, a Black man shot by police in Wisconsin. There is no denying that placing the crux of the blame on the left is in alignment with White supremacy.
After more commentary from Wallace, who continued to push the president to at least acknowledge supremacy, Trump also added, “Proud Boys — stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what. I’ll tell you what. Somebody has to do something about antifa and the left. This is not a right-wing problem. This is left wing.” According to BBC, the Proud Boys are a “far-right, anti-immigrant, all-male group with a history of street violence against its left-wing opponents.” To tell them to “stand back and stand by” is to say that they are welcome and will be indirectly called upon to wreak havoc against Black people and people of color.
CNN reports that the Proud Boys are feeling especially emboldened by the flagrant display of support. “Proud Boys organizer Joe Biggs also posted after the debate that he was ‘standing by,’ and he said the president “basically said to go f— them up,” they wrote. Biggs also wrote that “”President Trump told the proud boys to stand by because someone needs to deal with ANTIFA… well sir! we’re ready!!”
We cannot pretend as if the president didn’t know what he was doing when he showed public support for a known hate group. He encouraged them with only a few words and has given them a pass to continue in the future.
This is far the first time that Trump has made it known that he is tolerant of supremacy.
In recent years, there have been multiple comments made by President Trump that are flat out racist. From telling Black women and women of color that they should “return to their countries” (when three of them are U.S. citizens and the fourth is a naturalized citizen,) to his widely publicized remark on America allowing people from “shithole” African countries to immigrate, he has consistently supported the very framework of supremacy and allowed it to thrive during his time in office.
While it is true that violent racism is weaved into the fabric of America, for some, it is still alarming to see it take form in the highest ranking office. It is horrifying to know that the elected leader refuses to call it what it is, and will even go as far as to ensure that a hate groups continues to mobilize. President Trump simply could not speak against supremacy because he would be cutting into the percentage of people who support him and also, those that he supports.
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