A coalition of human rights groups urged president-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday to make a clear break from the hateful and racist rhetoric that marked his presidential campaign by forcefully denouncing white nationalists and taking steps to mend the nation’s fraying race relations.
“Instead of pretending to be surprised by the pervasive hate that has infected our country, Mr. Trump needs to take responsibility for it and repair the damage that he has caused,” said Richard Cohen, the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist groups and hate crimes. “He needs to speak out forcefully and repeatedly against bigotry. He needs to apologize to the communities he has injured and demonstrate that they will be protected and valued in his administration.”
Last week, when pressed by New York Times reporters, Trump finally disavowed support specifically from white nationalists and other extremists comprising the so-called “alt-right” movement. But his comments came after more than a year of courting them on social media and beyond. And Trump has in no way conceded that his demagogic campaign energized and emboldened hate groups, nor has he distanced himself from the alt-right with anything approaching the vituperative force that he has directed at protesters and the media.
According to a report released Tuesday by the SPLC, the 10 days following Trump’s election resulted in “867 bias-related incidents.” They include multiple accounts of black children being asked to ride in the back of school buses, the words “Trump Nation” and “Whites Only” being painted on a church with a large immigrant population, and a gay man being pulled from his car and beaten by an assailant who told him “the president says we can kill all you faggots now.”
A second report, from the SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance Project, detailed the results of a post-election survey of 10,000 educators: 90 percent reported that their schools’ had been negatively affected since the election, and 80 percent described heightened concern among minority students about the impact of the election on their families.
Other groups that participated in the event at the National Press Club on Tuesday included the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Council of La Raza, Muslim Advocates, and the American Federation of Teachers. The SPLC’s Cohen called on Trump to reach out specifically to communities that he targeted rhetorically during his campaign, including Muslim Americans, Mexican Americans, and African Americans. He also called for the resignation of Trump’s incoming chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, who formerly helmed Breitbart News and remains a highly controversial and polarizing figure. “If he doesn’t do those things,” Cohen said, “the hate Mr. Trump has unleashed during this election season will continue to flourish.”