Hate Groups and Donald Trump

How hate groups around the country have cast a black eye on the President-elect

By Will Boling and Dominic LoBianco

The 2016 presidential election was one of the most polarizing in recent American history, according to Gallup Research. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were among some of the least liked candidates to run for president since Gallup began collecting data in 1956.

Despite this, one of the candidates had to win. And on the ninth of November, the United States elected Donald Trump for president.

But how did we get here? Almost every major media outlet agreed that Hillary Clinton was the resounding favorite. According to Nate Silver and FiveThirtyEight, her odds to win the day before the election were 71 percent.

Protestors clash for and against Trump on PED Walkway at the University of Tennessee

However, when it came time for voters to pony up, the odds dramatically started to shift. By 9:30 p.m eastern time, the New York Times forecast shifted in favor of Trump and he never looked back.

When we take a closer look at the exit polls we start to see how President-Elect Trump came to be. Although Clinton did well won many minority groups, she did not have nearly as wide of a margin as Barack Obama the previous two cycles. Additionally Trump’s margin of victory with key demographics such as white males without college degrees was a resounding 72 percent.

But we should have already known that. A week before the election, Trump received an endorsement from The Crusader, the official paper of the Ku Klux Klan. It comes as no surprise that the Crusader appeals to white, generally close-minded readers with traditional ideals of what America should be based on what is once was.

Additionally, former leader of the KKK and candidate for Senate David Duke has been one of Trump’s biggest advocates since the beginning. After Trump’s victory, Duke wrote this on Facebook:

This is one of the most exciting nights of my life -> make no mistake about it my friends, our people have played a HUGE role in electing Trump to the presidency! Now it’s time to do the right thing, we unquestionably have the moral high ground — it’s time to take America back -> it’s time to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!!!

We have seen examples like this in Tennessee as well. M. David Riden, a University of Tennessee alumni, was one of Donald Trump’s delegates for Tennessee at the Republican National Convention. Riden celebrated Trump’s victory on Facebook, posting this:

I REFUSE to accept that it can’t be done. This is the country that declared its independence, won two world wars, and landed a man on the moon. This is America. We can and we WILL get it done.
Now it’s time to start uniting our country and binding the wounds of our divided nation. I promise to be a president for ALL Americans. I will work for you. I will fight for you. And I will win for you.

Apart from being a decorated nuclear engineer, according to his LinkedIn, Riden also has a political background. Along with being registered with the Tea Party Command Center, he is known for being a strict constitutionalist.

He and 116 delegates from 48 states, hosted a ‘Continental Congress’ in 2009. At this event, they wrote their own “ARTICLES OF FREEDOM” calling for the abolishment of federal firearms law and replacing the Department of Homeland Security with citizen militias.

According to an interview with Mother Jones, although he is not a member, Riden has ties to the Tennessee militia. One of the 998 antigovernment ‘Patriot’ organizations registered with the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2016.

We’re seeing some of these antiquated ideals reach college campuses as well. On September 30, a student at East Tennessee State University was arrested civil rights intimidation. The student, identified by police as Tristan Rettke, attended a “Black Lives Matter” protest dressed like a gorilla. Before campus police arrived, Rettke tried to provoke protestors by handing them bananas wrapped in rope.

However, not all college campus protests result in troubling story lines. Students from the University of Tennessee from all backgrounds came to protest their displeasure for the election results. While many ‘Black Lives Matter’ students were in attendance to oppose to election of Trump, they were met by Trump supporters. In an attempt to not be characterized as racists, they tried to have a peaceful dialogue.

Ultimately the election results will stand. For now all we can do is give Donald Trump our support as President while holding him the highest accountability that comes with such a prestigious title.