An elderly Massachussetts woman who wrote a letter to the Boston Globe denouncing Donald Trump now fears for her life after the Ku Klux Klan responded to her legitimate criticism of their favored presidential candidate. Louise Mayerson has been through a lot in her 84 years on this planet, coming from a family who was forced to flee Austria when she was a child to escape Adolf Hitler’s regime — but now she is forced to relive the terror her family felt as they fled the Nazis.
Mayerson ‘s letter, published March 2, criticizes Trump’s initial reticence in denouncing the numerous, numerous white supremacists who have publicly endorsed him:
I AM an Austrian refugee from the time of Hitler who has been a US citizen for more than 70 years. I have found some alarming rhetoric coming from Donald Trump that is apparently finding approval from large numbers of my fellow Americans. With Trump’s rather ambiguous response concerning his disavowal of the support of former Klansman David Duke, I have reached my breaking point (“Trump wavers on disavowing ex-KKK member,” Page A2, Feb. 29).
We all know the opinions and actions the Ku Klux Klan stands for. Among the fellow Americans the KKK has sought out for its venom are American Jews. Trump’s failure to immediately repudiate Duke chilled my blood.
I can see myself needing to flee once more and perhaps return to my native country in Europe, where hateful rhetoric is now strictly forbidden and punishable by law.
“My outrage grows and grows and grows,” Mayerson said in an interview following the publication of her letter. “And it’s flamed by the irresponsible actions, frankly, of Donald Trump.”
Unfortunately, the 84-year-old’s expression of her completely legitimate misgivings about Trump’s association with white supremacists was enough to throw them into a fit of rage. Days later, she received an envelop postmarked in Boston, There was no return address — after all, the Klan isn’t exactly known for being forthcoming with their identities. There wasn’t even a letter. Enclosed was a single Klan symbol:
The meaning was clear: Don’t criticize Donald Trump.
“I believe somebody just read that letter, it touched a nerve, and that’s the way they reacted,” Mayerson said. She contacted Arlington police, who are currently investigating the matter. They also contacted the Human Rights Commission, which assists hate crime victims. Mayerson says she is pleased with law enforcement’s response, and that she is distressed by the “poisonous atmosphere that has been created” by Trump’s rhetoric that can ” lead to some pretty unpleasant things for all of us.”
Robert O. Trestan, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, says that Trump’s rhetoric will help this sort of thing to become commonplace:
“The more that hateful and denigrating speech becomes commonplace in the public realm from leaders, the greater the likelihood that people will start acting up, whether it’s harassment via the mail or violence.”
A Trump spokeswoman refused to comment on the incident, though she did point out that the candidate did finally denounce his David Duke endorsement after he was unable to handle the media scrutiny:
“Mr. Trump has disavowed David Duke, the KKK and all other groups that espouse similar views. He will continue to do so.”
Trump may say he disavows the KKK and other white supremacists, but in the past he has tweeted some of their propaganda. In fact, based on a week of data collection, 62 percent of the people Trump retweets are white supremacists. Unfortunately, The Donald is exactly the sort of person who is popular with the White Power Rangers in the United States — and as long as we tolerate his hate speech, we can expect that this sort of thing will become the new normal.
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