As tens of millions of people watched “60 Minutes,” Donald Trump stared into the camera and plainly told any of his supporters who are committing racist acts in his name to “stop it.” It wasn’t nearly enough.
To understand why Trump must do more to calm the nation, take a spin through the news: “Vandals labeled water fountains ‘colored’ and ‘white’ at a Florida high school.” “Are you sick of anti-white propaganda in college? You are not alone,” exhorted fliers scattered around UC Davis.
At a UC San Diego bus stop, someone scrawled “Heil Trump” along with a swastika, The Times of San Diego reported. In Redding, a Shasta High School student handed out mock deportation notices. On the flip side, a Redwood City high school student beat another who supported Trump.
Racism is nothing new. The FBI issued a report earlier this week saying crimes motivated by disdain of others based on their ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation rose in 2015. But the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks the far right, counts 200-plus hate crimes since Trump’s election.
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“The white supremacists out there are celebrating his victory, and many are feeling their oats,” Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, was quoted as telling USA Today.
That is unacceptable, no matter one’s political persuasion. Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said as much this week, declaring that people responsible for racist graffiti have no place in the Party of Lincoln.
In his victory speech one week ago, Trump promised to be president for all Americans. Now, the president-elect, who so adeptly used the media and won over crowds during his campaign, must start making good on that pledge by employing his powers of persuasion.
Trump must address the nation, and denounce those who would call first lady Michelle Obama “an ape,” as did a pro-Trump mayor on social media in West Virginia, or brandish the Confederate flag at the Veterans Day parade, as Trump supporters did in Petaluma.
Alas, after his “60 Minutes” statement, the president-elect made Steve Bannon his chief strategist. Bannon, whose office will be in the West Wing, previously headed Breitbart News, which he has termed a platform for the so-called alt-right, a euphemism for white racists and anti-Semites.
Racism is repellent. Confederates were traitors. And white supremacist dead-enders should be shunned. Bannon is unfit for duty if he can’t urge Trump to take a stand, and do it now.