Trump hiring of white supremacist and threat to free speech should lead Collins and King to respond

Donald Trump speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (Creative Commons)

Donald Trump speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (Creative Commons)

Last weekend brought two incredible moments for American democracy, and not in a good way.

1. Trump picked Stephen Bannon, a white nationalist who ran Breitbart News as a top White House advisor.

According to Ben Shapiro, who used to work for Breitbart, “Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart openly embraced the white supremacist alt-right.” Shapiro also called Bannon “a vindictive, nasty figure.”

The Anti-Defamation League denounced Bannon’s hiring, calling his views “hostile to core American values.”

John Weaver, a former top campaign staffer for John McCain, wrote, that with Bannon’s hiring, “The racist, fascist extreme right is represented footsteps from the Oval Office.”

The Union for Reform Judaism, the largest denomination of Jews in the United States, put out a statement saying it is “deeply disturbed by the Bannon pick. Moreover, looking back at Bannon’s career, they say “Bannon was responsible for the advancement of ideologies antithetical to our nation, including anti-Semitism, misogyny, racism and Islamophobia.”

2. Trump’s campaign manager threatened the free speech of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

As one newspaper explained:

Senior Donald Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway on Sunday appeared to threaten Senate minority leader Harry Reid with legal action for criticizing the president-elect, saying the senator should be “very careful about characterizing somebody in a legal sense”.

In response, a Reid spokesman said: “Trump owes the nation leadership, not petty attempts to silence his critics.”  [source]

Senator Susan Collins and Senator Angus King have been leaders in speaking out against intolerance and promoting democratic values. Now is again a time to speak out.

Note: The statement by the Union for Reform Judaism was added to the original blog post.

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.