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white supremacists

As if the 2020 election season weren't quite wonky enough, infamous white supremacist troll Richard Spencer has decided to trade in his alt-rightness to go all-in on Joe Biden and the Democratic party. Unexpected—and yet not, considering the fact that Neo-Nazi attention whores aren't exactly known for making good sense.

"I plan to vote for Biden and a straight democratic ticket. It's not based on 'accelerationism' or anything like that; the liberals are clearly more competent people," he wrote on Twitter. I had to look up what "accelerationism" meant, so I started to read an article about it, but then I realized I was putting too much time into something Richard Spencer said and stopped. It doesn't matter. What matters is how the Biden campaign reacted to this "endorsement."

When white supremacist and former KKK grand dragon David Duke endorsed Donald Trump in 2016, Trump acted like he didn't really know who he was. How a candidate for the U.S. presidency would know nothing about one of the country's most famous white supremacists was a bit baffling, as was his wishy washy disavowal of his endorsement (which he blamed on a bad earpiece during an interview).

The Biden campaign probably wishes it could just ignore Spencer's clear cry for attention, but when a neo-Nazi says, "Hey, I'm on your team now!" it's necessary to say, "NOPE."


Director of Rapid Response for the Joe Biden campaign, Andrew Bates, tweeted a response to Spencer's announcement:

"When Joe Biden says we are in a battle for the soul of our nation against vile forces of hate who have come crawling out from under rocks, you are the epitome of what he means. What you stand for is absolutely repugnant. Your support is 10,000% percent unwelcome here."

Spencer had made headlines during the 2016 election for opening his alt-right conference speech with the phrase "Hail Trump," which was repeated by audience member who raised their hands in a Nazi salute.

It's also a bit hard to take Spencer seriously as supporting Democrats, considering he retweeted this message from Rose McGowan just four days ago:

"What have the Democrats done to solve ANYTHING? Help the poor? No. Help black & brown people? No. Stop police brutality? No. Help single mothers? No. Help children? No. You have achieved nothing. NOTHING. Why did people vote Trump? Because of you motherfuckers."

He may have simply jumped the Trump ship because he can see it sinking. "The MAGA/Alt-Right moment is over. I made mistakes; Trump is an obvious disaster; but mainly the paradigm contained flaws that we now are able to perceive. And it needs to end," he tweeted, according to Newsweek. "Walking into certain defeat, even death, is not heroic. It's foolhardy. I have no sympathy for martyrs. I admire winners."

He may admire winners, but he's getting no admiration from anyone at this point. The Biden campaign made it crystal clear that whatever game he's playing isn't going to fly. Denouncing neo-Nazis swiftly and definitively is what leaders should do, no matter what side of the political spectrum they're on.


The third time wasn't the charm for President Donald Trump when it came to addressing what happened in Charlottesville over the weekend.

People across the political spectrum were stunned with what amounted to a full-throated defense of white nationalists. The New York Post's John Podhoretz called it "horrifying," CNN's Chris Cillizza warned that the speech signaled that Trump's presidency could be "headed to a very dark place," and a number of Republican members of Congress publicly distanced themselves from the president after his impromptu press conference in the Trump Tower lobby.

Also, it's not a reporter's job to say something was "nice." Come on, man. GIFs from Jimmy Kimmel Live/YouTube.


Late night talk show hosts once again got in on the action of criticizing Trump's comments, but Jimmy Kimmel took a somewhat unique approach.

He began with what we all know: that Trump is volatile and at times, can seem "unhinged." He got in some substantial criticism of Trump's comments, such as Trump's claim that there were "very fine people on both sides" of the Charlottesville protest.

"If you're with a group of people chanting things like, 'Jews will not replace us!' and you don't immediately leave that group, you are not a 'very fine person,'" Kimmel said.

That's when Kimmel pivoted, choosing not to simply preach to the choir of "smug, annoying liberals," but instead addressing Trump voters directly.

"I get it. I actually do," he said, offering empathy for people who felt so disaffected by the political system in the U.S. that they just wanted to "shake this Etch-a-Sketch hard and start over" with a political neophyte like Trump. But what does not make sense is why so many are continuing to stick by his side.

Since taking office, Trump's threatened a number of countries via Twitter, called the media the "enemy," skirted nepotism laws, launched a bogus "voter fraud" investigation, repeatedly confused the concept of health insurance with life insurance, divulged classified information to the Russians during an Oval Office meeting, endorsed police brutality, and so much more.

This probably isn't what Trump voters actually voted for, and Kimmel gets that. He urged Trump voters to "treat the situation like you would if you'd put 'Star Wars' wallpaper in the kitchen: 'All right, I got caught up. I was excited. I made a mistake, and now it needs to go.'"

Trump voters: your voices matter, especially right now. He needs to hear from you.

Urge him to take the job seriously. This is not a vanity project to earn him praise. People's lives are at stake.

But if appealing to vanity is the only way to get through to him, well, Kimmel has a tongue-in-cheek solution to that as well: King Trump.

The whole segment is great and is worth a watch by everyone across the political spectrum. We're all in this together.

About 2,500 miles stood between the bright lights of Hollywood and the flickering candles at vigils in Charlottesville, Virginia, when Zendaya took the stage at the Teen Choice Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday.

The horrors of the weekend still wore heavy on the hearts of many in attendance, and Zendaya, who has never shied away from speaking her mind, didn't let her moment go to waste.


Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

The 20-year-old star won "Choice Summer Movie Actress" for her role in "Spider-Man: Homecoming" and used her acceptance speech to encourage young people to stand up for what's right.

“'Spider-Man' is about a young person," Zendaya began. "And so right now I want to talk to all the young people in the audience."

She continued (emphasis added):

"With all the injustice and the hatred and everything that is happening — not only in the world, but in our country — right now I need for you young people, I need you guys to be educated, I need you to listen, I need you to pay attention, and I need you to go ahead and understand that you have a voice and it is OK to use it when you see something bad happening."

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

Zendaya wasn't alone in her call to action. While no one specifically mentioned Charlottesville, a number of Teen Choice attendees alluded to the atrocities that happened there over the weekend and promoted hopeful messages of unity, including "Black-ish's" Yara Shahidi and Fifth-Harmony's Lauren Jauregui.

Their messages were ones Americans needed to hear.

The Teen Choice Awards aired as the country was still reeling from unconscionable acts of bigotry and violence.  

On Aug. 11, horrifying images of hundreds of white nationalists marching on the University of Virginia, burning torches in hand, went viral across Facebook and Twitter.

The following day, a "Unite the Right" conference in Charlottesville turned deadly, as alleged white supremacist James Fields ran over a crowd of protesters in his vehicle, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

President Trump's initial response to the violence and Heyer's death was ... not reassuring.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides," the president said on Aug. 12, doubling down on the idea that "many sides" are to blame. "It's been going on for a long time in our country. ... This has been going on for a long, long time."

Notably, there was no mention of white supremacy or racism in the president's initial remarks, which seemed to equivocate the hatred on display by literal Nazis with the actions of those protesting the alt-right conference.

A slew of leaders on both sides of the aisle were quick to criticize Trump, noting the president didn't go far enough in condemning the overt acts of bigotry, including Senator Marco Rubio, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, and Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer.

On Monday morning, Aug. 14, Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier quit the president's manufacturing council, siting Trump's weak response to the incidents in Charlottesville. (In true form, Trump quickly bashed Frazier on Twitter.)

Trump followed up with an additional statement hours after Frazier's decision, condemning white supremacy using more forceful language. But in a certain sense, the damage had already been done.

The president's reaction to the horrors in Virginia raises another question: Why not call Heyer's death an act of terrorism?

Several other leaders acknowledged that the murder certainly meets the definition of domestic terrorism; even Trump's own attorney general, Jeff Sessions — who carries his own appalling history of racist views — considers it such.

Why can't the president — who's always been quick to call out terrorism when it comes at the hands of Islamists (read: when it's more politically convenient) — call a spade a spade when it comes to Charlottesville?

Zendaya would really like to know.

The actor and singer ended her speech on Sunday reminding young people that they'll soon have the power to make an even bigger difference in our world.

"You’re the future leaders of the world; we are the future leaders of the world," Zendaya said. "You’re the future presidents, the future senators. And you guys are the ones who are going to make this world better. So I’m just letting you know right now that you are the future, OK? So take that very, very seriously, all right?”

Watch Zendaya's speech at the Teen Choice Awards below:

This is Mike Rawlings, the mayor of Dallas, Texas.

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images.


And if there's one thing Rawlings is certainly not afraid of, it's Syrian refugees.

In an interview with MSNBC on Nov. 21, 2015, Rawlings voiced concerns about how we're responding to the terror attacks earlier this month in Paris — namely, that some leaders are reacting in-line with how extremists want them to.

"ISIS wants us to be divided on this issue," he said, later noting that "ISIS is no more Islamic than the Nazi senior staff was Christian."

"ISIS wants us to demonize these Syrian refugees," he said.

In indirect fashion, Rawlings was referring to the several presidential candidates and governors (including his own state's) who've come out in support of a ban on Syrian refugees in the wake of the attacks.

But then, Rawlings said something truly ... well, out of the box.


Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

When asked if he had any safety concerns about allowing refugees to enter the country, he got candid:

"There is never a 100% guarantee [of keeping terrorists out], and safety is my #1 concern, as it is [Texas] Governor Abbott's. We've got to make sure [those entering the country] are safe. This is a 21-step process to get in. 18 to 24 months to jump through these hoops. This is a serious issue. I am more fearful of large gatherings of white men that come into schools [and] theaters and shoot people up, but we don't isolate young, white men on this issue." (Emphasis added.)

Yeah ... it's that last part that's really got the Internet abuzz.

And yeah. Rawlings actually ... he made a really great point.

Hear me out. I'm not saying anyone should fear all white guys (#NotAllWhiteGuys), and I certainly don't think the mayor is, either. But Rawlings is simply alluding to the fact that in the U.S., you actually are more likely to become the victim of a white male terrorist than an Islamic jihadist, statistically speaking.

Since 9/11, 48 people have died from radical right wing terrorist attacks while 26 have died from jihadists.

Throughout the past 14 years, nearly twice as many people in the U.S. have died at the hands of white supremacists or extreme anti-government terrorists (such as Dylann Roof, who murdered nine people at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, this past summer) than at the hands of jihadists (like the terrorists who bombed the Boston Marathon in 2013, killing four), according to a study released in June by the New America Foundation.

Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio hinted at that same statistic during a recent interview with NPR, according to CNN.

"I mean, since the beginning of the Bush administration when we were attacked, September 11th, we've not had any major terrorist attacks in this country. We've had individual crazy people ... they look more like me than they look like Middle Easterners — they are generally white males — who have shot up people in movie theaters and schools. Those are terrorist attacks, they're just different kinds of terrorists." (Emphasis added.)

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

In total, 48 people in the U.S. have died from radical right wing terrorists since 9/11 while 26 have died from jihadists. Although those facts may make some people uncomfortable, they certainly don't lie.

With his statement, Rawlings wasn't trying to imply white people are scary.

But white supremacists and extremists are just as much of a threat, if not more so. And yet, we do nothing to prevent all white men from accessing guns or even prevent white men with a history of extremism from accessing guns and weaponry. Rawlings was pointing out how ridiculous it is to fear (and ban) Muslims and Muslim refugees based on the harmful and false premise that many of them are extremists attempting to infiltrate the U.S. through our refugee resettlement program.

The good news is, there's no shortage of mayors from across the country who, like Rawlings, are committed to helping Syrian refugees.

Rawlings is one of 18 U.S. mayors, all part of the Cities United for Immigration Action initiative, who penned an open letter to President Obama, applauding his efforts to accept Syrian refugees and noting their cities will certainly accept more.

Mayors from cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Baltimore agree: Refugees aren't violent, and we should be doing more to help them.

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images.

"It sends a horrible message to the world," New York's Bill de Blasio said of some governors' refusing to take refugees, according to CNN.

"It means we're turning our backs on the people who are the victims of terrorism. We're not going to turn our backs on children and families. It's not the American way. It's certainly not the New York City way."

In may have taken Rawlings making a bold statement to point out a surprising reality, but I'm glad he did.

After all, facts should be the guiding light of our policymaking. Not fear.

“This is a big issue, and we as a nation must step up and make sure we're secure," Rawlings told MSNBC. "But we must not do things that change the soul of who we are as well."