Southern Poverty Law Center
November 9, 2016

by Richard Cohen, President

With the election of Donald Trump, we're facing a new reality

Today, we’re facing a new reality – a president-elect who has denigrated people because of their race, their religion, their ethnicity, their gender, and more.

Our mission is to hold Donald Trump to what he is saying now – that he will be a president for all Americans and that he will work to bind the wounds of division, wounds that his own words have caused.

We’re already at work.

Today, we’ve provided resources to our nation’s teachers to help them begin to heal the scars that the campaign has left on their students.

And we’ve alerted the country to the reaction of white supremacists to Mr. Trump’s election in an effort to inoculate the nation against their growing influence.

Tomorrow, and every day in the future, we’ll fight for the rights of the most vulnerable people in America – those victimized by bigotry and discrimination.

We hope Mr. Trump truly means what he says about reaching out to all Americans.

But there is one group we hope he disappoints – the extremists who flocked to his candidacy and found in him a voice for their bigotry.

During his campaign, Mr. Trump named far-right extremists as advisers, re-circulated racist and anti-Semitic tweets, gave press credentials to a white supremacist radio host, and refused for months to disavow David Duke after the neo-Nazi endorsed him.

Now, white nationalists and the alt-right are celebrating his victory.

If he means what he says, Mr. Trump must make absolutely clear to them that neither their ideas nor anyone affiliated with them will have any influence or voice in his administration.

That is the first thing he must do to begin binding the wounds of division that his campaign has caused.

Southern Poverty Law Center
November 9, 2016

by Richard Cohen, President

White supremacists think their man won the White House

Yesterday, I watched Hillary Clinton give a gracious concession speech, one that was filled with hope and a touch of reassurance. It was, in some ways, a celebration of our democracy and its stability, which depends on the peaceful transition of power.

President Barack Obama, who campaigned fiercely against Donald Trump in the final weeks of the campaign, has been equally magnanimous, reminding us of the incredible dignity and grace with which he led our country over the past eight years.  

I share the sentiments they expressed. We do need to give Trump a chance, for the good of our country. Maybe he will surprise us and build bridges, not walls.

But we can’t suddenly forget or forgive what he said during the campaign.

We can’t forget that Trump called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and killers, or that he said a federal judge can’t decide a lawsuit fairly because he is a “Mexican” (he was born in Indiana).

We can’t forget that his signature campaign promise is to build a wall at the border with Mexico.

We can’t forget that he proposed banning Muslims from entering our country or that he suggested that the “Muslim community” was complicit in the terrorist attack in Orlando.

We can’t forget the despicable way he talks about women or that he bragged about sexually assaulting them.

We can’t forget that he mocked people with disabilities.

We can’t forget that he exploited ugly, racist stereotypes when he described African-American communities as “war zones” and “hell.”

We can’t forget that he failed to immediately disavow the endorsement of David Duke, a neo-Nazi and probably the most well known white supremacist in America.

We can’t forget that he named as his campaign manager a man who runs a website catering to the alt-right, a rebranded white nationalist movement.

We can’t forget that he re-circulated racist and anti-Semitic tweets.

We can’t forget that he went on Alex Jones’ radio show and told the far-right radio host that his “reputation is amazing.” Jones is, in fact, a fabulist, a con artist known for propagating wild conspiracy theories, such as his claim that the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting was the work of the government.

The point is, in Trump we suddenly face a president-elect who has been wallowing in the cesspool of hate and extremism.

White supremacists who backed his candidacy are jumping for joy. They think they now have their man in the White House.

Andrew Anglin, proprietor of the Daily Stormer, a truly sickening website popular among neo-Nazis, declared, “Our Glorious Leader has ascended to God Emperor. Make no mistake about it: we did this.”

David Duke was equally exultant, tweeting that “our people played a HUGE role in electing Trump!”

Kevin MacDonald, an outspoken anti-Semite and former professor, wrote,  “This is an amazing victory. Fundamentally, it is a victory of White people over the oligarchic, hostile elites.”

We can’t afford to take these statements as the ravings of extremists on the fringes of society. They are now at the gates.

But it’s not just sieg-heiling Nazis and cross-burning Klansmen who should trouble Americans concerned about what a Trump victory portends. It’s also the more polite, suit-wearing extremists who move in mainstream political circles and already have their nose under the Trump tent.

They’re people like Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state who birthed the viciously discriminatory, unconstitutional anti-immigrant laws enacted by Arizona, Alabama and other states several years ago; and Ken Blackwell, the former Ohio secretary of state who is now a senior fellow at the rabidly anti-LGBT  Family Research Council. Both are reportedly serving as key members of Trump’s transition team. 

As is customary, Trump has pledged to be a president “for all Americans.”

If he truly means it, he must first boot the extremists out of his tent and tell them in no uncertain terms that they will have no voice or place in his administration. If he does that, perhaps he can begin to stanch the bleeding from the wounds he ripped open in our country.

But, given the early signs, we’re not counting on it.

No, we’re going on what Trump has been saying all along. The time is now for progressives everywhere to unite and fight with everything we have.