Monday 26 September 2016

Mixed message from Trump on racial tensions

Ruth Sherlock, Washington

Published 23/09/2016 | 02:30

Republican Donald Trump. Picture: AP
Republican Donald Trump. Picture: AP

In one breath yesterday Donald Trump was lamenting a "lack of spirit" between whites and blacks, and encouraging racial unity; in the next he was demanding that one of America's largest cities adopt "stop and frisk" policing tactics.

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He confronted racial tensions after police-involved shootings of black men in Oklahoma and North Carolina. The North Carolina governor activated the National Guard after another night of violent protests.

Trump, as he has for much of his unorthodox presidential bid, offered a decidedly mixed message as he confronted the delicate issue.

"It just seems that there's a lack of spirit between the white and the black," he said in a phone interview on Fox News's 'Fox and Friends'. "It's a terrible thing that we're witnessing."

The comments come as both presidential candidates court minority voters with election day less than seven weeks away.

Trump, in particular, has struggled to balance a message that appeals to his white, working-class base with one that improves his standing with minority voters and educated whites who may worry about racial undertones in his candidacy.

Trump was slow to disavow former KKK leader David Duke earlier in the year and has repeatedly promoted tweets by white supremacists during his White House bid.

Hillary Clinton has come under fire for saying half of Trump's supporters belong in a "basket of deplorables" because they are racist, sexist, homophobic or xenophobic.

The Democratic nominee has made curbing gun violence and police brutality a central part of her candidacy.

Ms Clinton told a Florida audience that the shootings in Oklahoma and North Carolina added two more names "to a long list of African-Americans killed by police officers. It's unbearable and it needs to become intolerable".

She has campaigned alongside a group of black women called the 'Mothers of the Movement', who advocated for more accountability and transparency by law enforcement. The group includes the mothers of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, black victims of high-profile killings.

Clinton had no public events yesterday as she focused on preparing for next week's opening debate. But her campaign unveiled plans to spend $30m (€26m) on digital advertising as she seeks to connect with young voters - including young African-Americans and Latinos - who increasingly get their news online instead of from live television.

She addressed racial tensions, albeit in a humorous way, in an interview released yesterday on comic Zach Galifianakis's web programme, 'Between Two Ferns'.

"When you see how well it works for Donald Trump, do you ever think to yourself, 'Oh maybe I should be more racist?" Galifianakis asked her. Clinton smiled and shook her head, but did not answer.

Later, the comedian asked what Trump might be wearing to Monday's debate.

"I assume he'll wear that red power tie," Clinton said. Galifianakis responded, "Or maybe like a white power tie."

"That's even more appropriate," Clinton said.

Yesterday, Mr Trump attacked plans for the US government to relinquish oversight of the internet's governing body, warning it could threaten the web's freedom and lead to Russia and China censoring the web.

The US presidential candidate has thrown his weight behind a campaign to block Barack Obama from transferring control of the domain name system, which controls website addresses, to an international consortium.

The DNS is effectively the web's address book, ensuring that typing an address directs a browser to the correct website. While it has been operated by Icann, an international non-profit organisation, the body has been ultimately answerable to the US government for 18 years.

Irish Independent

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