KKK paper the 'Crusader' endorses Donald Trump for president

 KKK paper the 'Crusader' endorses Donald Trump for president
Source: AP
Source: AP

The official newspaper of the country's oldest and most infamous hate group, the Ku Klux Klan, has issued a de facto endorsement of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

The Crusader, which is published by the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, devoted the entire front page of its current issue to a "lengthy defense of Trump's message" under the banner "Make America Great Again," the Washington Post reported.

"'Make America Great Again!' It is the slogan that has been repeatedly used by Donald Trump in his  campaign for the presidency," wrote the KKKK's head and Christian Identity pastor Thomas Robb. "You can see it on the shirts, buttons, posters and ball caps such as the one being worn here by Trump speaking at a recent rally ... But can it happen? Can America really be great again? This is what we will soon find out!

"While Trump wants to make America great again, we have to ask ourselves, 'What made America great in the first place?' The short answer to that is simple. America was great not because of what our forefathers did — but because of who our forefathers were. America was founded as a White Christian Republic. And as a White Christian Republic it became great."

Robb told the Post the op-ed was not a formal endorsement, since there were parts of Trump's platform he disagreed with, but Trump nonetheless captured the zeitgeist of "a surge of nationalism worldwide as nationals reclaim their borders."

Trump formally denounced the endorsement Tuesday, calling the Crusader "repulsive."

In the late 1900s, the Klan split into numerous lesser organizations, of which the KKKK is one. An article in the Washington Post in February noted that while the KKK historically issued endorsements for the presidency and other offices, that practice faded as the national prominence of the Klan diminished.

But with Trump's campaign, replete with thinly veiled racial rhetoric, offensive statements about minorities and women and several incidents in which he tweeted out white nationalist propaganda, times have changed.

Far-right extremists have been vocal in their support for Trump, with white nationalist organizations like the American Freedom Party and National Policy Institute endorsing Trump's message. In August, American Nazi Party leader Rocky Suhayda called Trump a "real opportunity" for U.S. fascists to put their ideals into action.

In a series of interviews with Mic, Robb said Trump's message is "tapping into [the] voice" for the anger of white supremacists, adding "I've never been more encouraged in the last 50 years than I've been in the past year and a half. ... I don't like to use the word radicalize, but I believe that Trump will advance the narrative."

Notably, the Crusader shares its name with another far-right entity recently in the news: a white nationalist group busted by the FBI in October for planning to blow up a mosque and apartment building inhabited in part by Somali refugees.

Trump has at times offered a mixed message on his support from the racist far right. When asked to disavow the KKK or its onetime leader David Duke in February, he pretended to know nothing about either and only later denounced him.

Correction: March 15, 2017
A previous version of this article misstated Thomas Robb's title. He is the chief of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Harrison, Arkansas.