President Donald Trump faced a seemingly simple task of denouncing white supremacists during Tuesday's presidential debate. However, the 74-year-old fumbled the straightforward question and gave hate groups more ammunition to incite violence.
When moderator Chris Wallace repeatedly asked Trump if he would condemn white supremacists, the President shifted the focus to social justice advocates, saying he mostly sees violence "from the left wing."
He then delivered an encouraging message to a well-known hate group.
"Proud Boys, stand back and stand by," he said. "But I'll tell you what: Somebody's got to do something about antifa and the left."
According to NPR, the federal government has labeled white supremacists as one of the most serious threats facing the country. FBI Director Christopher Wray, who spoke to the House Homeland Security Committee recently, said domestic terrorism threats and violence mainly comes from "racially motivated violent extremism," particularly people who follow white supremacist ideologies.
In 2018, however, the FBI refused to designate the Proud Boys an extremist group, as Blavity previously reported. Special Agent in Charge, Renn Cannon, said at the time that the group has ties to white nationalism, but that it will not be labeled designated as an extremist organization.
Former Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes founded the Proud Boys in 2016, leading to violent clashes with protestors in New York City and Portland. Nine people affiliated with the extremist group were charged with assault in New York.
Although Trump has tried to blame antifa for causing violence, Wray described antifa as an ideology, not an organized group.
The Proud Boys didn't take long to boast their support for the President after his racist remark during the debate. The hate-group rallied on the internet to show off their new logo, featuring the words "Stand Back, Stand By."
— Alex Kaplan (@AlKapDC) September 30, 2020
While Trump failed to denounce the hate group during the debate, former vice president Joe Biden recalled the deadly white supremacist violence that broke out in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.
"Close your eyes. Remember what those people looked like coming out of the fields, carrying torches, their veins bulging, just spewing anti-Semitic bile," Biden said. "And the president said there were 'very fine people on both sides.' No president has ever said anything like that."
The President has a history of refusing to denounce racist white groups. One of his failures came in 2016 when he refused to condemn Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, NPR reported.
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