It must be another weekday. Or weekend. Donald Trump has said another two controversial things.
Today, he refused to renounce David Duke's endorsement, and he tweeted a quote from Benito Mussolini.
I am no fan of Trump, but I think getting excited about these two things in particular is silly.
First, Duke himself says he did not endorse Trump, He just says he will vote for him. Why is it u to Trump to refuse his vote? As if that were even possible. Why is it up to Trump to take this opportunity to condemn him?
All reports have described Duke as “a former Grand Wizard of the Klan. Duke is clearyl anti-Semitic, but this leaves a bit of a false impression. First, former is the word for it. He was in the Klan in his twenties, renounced it by his thirties. He is now 65. He was not Grand Wizard of “the Ku Klux Klan,” but of the “Knights of the Ku Klux Klan,” a local Louisiana group he himself founded. The KKKK, unlike the KKK, allowed women and Catholics to join. They cast off the traditional pointy robes for business suits.
Trump, confronted with the fact that Duke “endorsed” him, said he had no idea who Duke was. This has been challenged, because when he left the Reform Party in 2000, he said that the fact that Duke was a member was one reason he left. Obviously, then he knew who he was.
I suspect his point was simply that he had nothing to do with all of this. Asking him to condemn Duke made no more sense than asking Rubio or Cruz to do the same. It was just not his affair. Which seems to me right. But it is also entirely possible, it seems to me, that he had forgotten who Duke was, or perhaps was not current with his positions today.
As I noted, Duke remains profoundly anti-Semetic, and I certainly cannot go along with his views here. Still, it is hard to see how he has become a unique poster baoy for "hate," while equally anti-Semitic views are mostly ignored when expressed by blacks or Muslims.
As to the Mussolini quote: it was a deliberate “gotcha” by Gawker, admitted to be so. In any case, rejecting the quote just because Mussolini said it is a classic ad hominem. It might still be a good and moral quote. Hitler built the autobahns. Does it follow that we are obliged to reject all divided, limited access highways as an evil idea?
There are reasons to be very concerned about a Trump presidency. But this stuff is just static.