Donald Trump’s campaign has often been criticized for refusing to denounce white supremacists forcefully enough, and rightfully so. Now, in what may be an instance of overcompensation, Eric Trump has denounced David Duke, one of the nation’s most prominent white supremacists, but in the worst, most unacceptable way possible. In a radio interview Thursday, Eric said that Duke “deserves a bullet.” And, just, no. Bad Eric! Go to your room!
Duke is running for a Senate seat in Louisiana, and though he has about as much of a chance of becoming the state’s next senator as I do, his candidacy has received outsized media attention, in part because of his vocal fondness for Donald. A convicted felon and former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, he’s heartily endorsed the Republican presidential candidate, explaining that white voters will be committing “treason to [their] heritage” if they vote for anyone other than Donald.
Since the real estate tycoon has made it clear that he’ll only denounce Duke reluctantly, Eric has apparently stepped in to help convince voters that, for real this time, the Trump campaign doesn’t like white supremacists.
“The guy does deserve a bullet,” Eric said during a radio interview with Ross Kaminsky. “I mean, these aren’t good people.”
To be clear, Duke is a bad candidate and a bad human being. He’s a Holocaust denier who says things like "the Jews are trying to destroy all other cultures" and "we don't want Negroes around." Those are among his more tame, publishable quotes. He's a racist asshole, in short, and deserves to be denounced as strongly as possible.
But there’s a difference between denouncing someone and calling for their death. One of the nice things about democracy is that divisive candidates don’t get shot in the head; they simply lose their elections, which Duke is on track to do without Eric’s help. By calling for Duke to be killed, Eric is not speaking against white supremacy. He is speaking against civil society and democracy itself. He’s advocating political violence in place of elections and the peaceful transition of power.
Sadly, this is nothing new for the Trump campaign. On several occasions, Donald has encouraged his supporters to physically assault people who don’t support his campaign. He has twice made comments implying that Hillary Clinton should be assassinated, which earned him a visit from the Secret Service. Eric’s comments suggest that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree — or, to use a more apt metaphor, that the fish rots from the head down.
Duke is a racist, anti-Semitic piece of scum. But in America, we don’t settle our differences by killing politicians with whom we disagree. We settle them at the ballot box. To suggest otherwise isn’t just inappropriate — it’s anti-American.