“Well, just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke,” he said in an interview with CNN. “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.”
And there you have it—Donald Trump. He doesn’t know anything about anything except making money—which he also doesn’t know anything about. (Trust me. Read. it’s true.)
Later that same day, when Trump realized that even his Teflon coating could not repel the poison of David Duke, he altered his opinion, tweeting “I disavow.”
A tweet. No denial of Duke’s long-standing white supremacist views or connection with the Ku Klux Klan, the hate-mongering or unabashed segregationist views—just a tweet. My bad. Oops. OMG. ☹
That’s how Trump runs his campaign—on soundbites and tweets that bully and intimidate, mixed with just enough ignorance of the facts to make him sound new and refreshing. But ignorance is neither new nor refreshing. Ignorance, I’m pretty sure, is still ignorance. If it’s not, I want all my high school and college grades changed to reflect that fact, for if I had answered an exam question concerning David Duke as follows: I don’t know David Duke. I don’t believe I have ever met him. I’m pretty sure I didn’t meet him. And I just don’t know anything about him, I can guarantee that my professor would not have suggested I run for president.
And that’s not the worst part. At the risk of having buried the lede, there’s more, and it’s scarier, and it’s something we ignore at our own peril. On a night when Spotlight won the Oscar for best picture, when we realized how important it is for the press to protect our rights to basic human dignity, Donald Trump wants to weaken the libel laws so that he can sue anyone who criticizes him.
You need to read that last paragraph again and understand how that contradicts our basic right of free speech. Not the Boston Globe’s right, or Fox News’s right, or MSNBC’s right—yours and mine, and maybe SNL’s, and Rush Limbaugh’s, and Bull Maher’s, yes and even David Duke’s.
Claiming ignorance of some Klansman won’t hurt us—we know who is and what he stands for. Claiming ignorance of the fascists who fought to control Europe and the rest of the world seventy years ago and murdered upwards of ten million people in the process—that’s not something we should laugh off. It’s not Trump being Trump—it’s Trump stealing a basic freedom that generations of Americans have fought to preserve.
Whenever someone mentions gun control, the firearms brigade rallies behind the Second Amendment. Could they also please rally behind the First? If they do, maybe we can find some common ground and keep the remainder of the Constitution from being shredded.