Update: Oct. 1, 2020
Black Twitter balked at South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott’s response to President Trump’s messaging to Proud Boys groups to “stand down and stand by” during the presidential debate Tuesday night.
Many people thought of it as dogwhistle moment and felt Scott, a Republican didn’t go far enough to condemn Trump when he said that he “misspoke,” and should “correct” what he said.
Many outright rejected what Scott said.
Other Black Twitter users wanted to let Scott know that they felt he is playing right into Trump’s racial rhetoric.
So far Scott has had no further comments on the issue.
At least one Black Republican is addressing President Trump's remarks during Tuesday night’s debate where he signified to the right wing fringe group Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.” Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, who is the only Black GOP member in the Senate, released a statement Tuesday morning calling for Trump to walk back what he said.
“White supremacy should be denounced at every turn,” said Scott in the statement. “I think the President misspoke, and he needs to correct it. If he doesn’t correct it, I guess he didn’t misspeak.”
The Proud Boys are a hate group who have gained a reputation for violence at protest rallies and have been identified by the FBI as an extremist group. The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies them as a hate group. They have been known to embrace white supremacist and misogynistic rhetoric and align themselves with other fringe groups, including those at the deadly 2017 “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va.
Scott is not the only one in Black Republican circles to have responded to what many are saying was a dangerous dogwhistle to the group, that is reportedly celebrating the shout out.
Candace Owens, a controversial conservative commentator and author, defended Trump and criticized Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden, saying that ANTIFA was behind violence at protest rallies and that Biden would not disavow them.
Paris Dennard, Senior Communications Advisor for Black Media Affairs with the Republican National Committee, said that Trump's comments were, in fact, a misstateement and that he likely meant to say something else that would show his disavowment of white supremacists.
"Last night at the debate, President Donald J. Trump did something he has been asked to do, and has done several times, as a private citizen, candidate in 2016 and President of the United States, condemn white supremacists by name," said Dennard in a statement sent to BET.com. "When the moderator asked him to tell the proud boys to stand back, the President misspoke and said 'stand back and stand by' instead of 'stand back and stand down.' "
But he noted that left wing demonstrators were who he wanted to place some focus, saying the president "tried to bring attention to ANTIFA who has been on the ground infiltrating the peaceful protests and demonstrations in Black communities by looting, rioting and destroying black owned businesses, churches and committing acts of violence."
However, Michael Steele, the former chairperson of the RNC apparently joined Democrats in their swift criticism of the president, going as far as calling his entire performance at the debate a “disgrace.”
Steele also targeted Trump’s comments about the Proud Boys.
Angela Stanton King, a Georgia Republican who is running for the House seat vacated by Rep. John Lewis, stood behind Trump and joined in the criticism of Biden, posting several tweets indicating where she stood.
She also attacked Biden on the 1994 Crime Bill, which Trump used in the debate, while erroneously saying the former vice president called Black Americans “superpredators.”
Finally, rather than calling out the Proud Boys herself, she attacked Black Lives Matter groups and ANTIFA, categorizing them as instigators of violence.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has been following the group for a long time and said they purposely provoke violence in many places they have gone. Ahead of another rally in Portland, Oregon, the organization said that the Proud Boys have made the city a focus of their agitation, while bolstering President Trump.
“Groups like the Proud Boys have been emboldened by President Trump’s recent announcement that Portland, NYC, and Seattle will be designated ‘anarchist jurisdictions,’ the SPLC said in a media statement.
In response to the president’s dangerous directive, members of the group posted an emblem with what instantly became a slogan on Telegram.
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 Credit: Daniel Pier/NurPhoto via Getty Images; Olivier Douliery / AFP