Many are calling Donald Trump’s refusal to denounce white supremacy and telling the Proud Boys hate group to “stand back and stand” by during last night’s presidential date with former Vice President Joe Biden a new low. And for Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, the president’s words were a clear and dangerous message.
During an interview on MSNBC after the debate, Harris made it clear: “What we saw was a dog whistle through a bullhorn. Donald Trump is not pretending to be anything other than what he is, someone who will not condemn white supremacists, someone who cannot say the phrase Black Lives Matter."
Last night, when moderator Chris Wallace about whether or not he would be willing to denounce Antifa and other left-wing, political extremist movements and finally condemn his association with white supremacy by announcing that racist groups need to stand down and not incite further violence as has been seen in Kenosha, Wisconsin and Portland, Oregon, the president’s answer caught many by surprise.
“I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace,” said Trump who then followed that statement with, “Proud Boys! Stand back and stand by” before then saying that someone has to do something about Antifa and acknowledging that it’s not his problem, it's “a left-wing problem.”
Biden followed by saying that Antifa is “an idea not an organization,” before Wallace then moved the conversation forward. It was enough to get Twitter reacting with many saying that Trump’s inability to provide a hard and fast condemnation of the Proud Boys only further contributes to the notion that he embraces white supremacy and supports their anti-Muslim, misogynist, and racist ideologies and endeavors.
Even dictionary Merriam-Webster joined the backlash tweeting the definitions “stand down” and “stand by.”
While some supporters say the Proud Boys are not an “alt-right” group of white supremacists, they have been associated with inciting violence at extremists gatherings like the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“Their disavowals of bigotry are belied by their actions: rank-and-file Proud Boys and leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists. They are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric,” the SPLC says.
Trump’s comment is of particular concern given he refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses the presidential election when asked by a reporter last Wednesday.
"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," Trump said. Trump has also previously refused to say whether he would accept the election results and has joked about staying in office past two terms.
(Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)