GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump set off more than a firestorm when he claimed to have “no knowledge about” the Ku Klux Klan and its former leader, David Duke.
He also spurred the New York-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to spring into action with its own campaign to provide informatio to every presidential candidate (including Trump) on hate groups and other extremists.
The trigger for this brouhaha began with last week’s expression of support for “The Donald” by former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard Dr. David Duke.
Trump disavowed the support on Friday, but in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, seemed to forget the entire affair and also disavowed any knowledge at all about David Duke or the KKK – a stumble that raised a firestorm.
“David Duke is a notorious anti-Semite and racist and his name is synonymous with bigotry,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL’s CEO. “Duke is a perennial candidate for elected office and perhaps America’s best known racist and anti-Semite. He is a former Imperial Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. His message is racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-American to its very core, and he’s clearly exploiting Mr. Trump’s candidacy to get publicity for himself and his hateful ideas.”
ADL’s Center on Extremism monitors and exposes extremists and hate groups.
The group said it is providing for the public at large, including the Trump campaign, information about extremists “so that all candidates can be fully aware of these individuals and have a more complete picture when determining whose endorsements they should accept or reject.”
Greenblatt said the ADL hopes it can prevent white supremacists from using the campaign to “mainstream their bigotry.
“It is imperative for elected leaders and political candidates like Mr. Trump and others in the public eye to disavow haters such as Duke and the other white supremacists who have endorsed his candidacy. By not disavowing their racism and hatred, Trump gives them and their views a degree of legitimacy. Even if it is unintentional on his part, he allows them to feel that they are reaching mainstream America with their message of intolerance.”