Trump revives ‘Willie Horton’ tactic with ad linking illegal immigrant killer to Democrats

The Washington Post

By Allyson Chiu

Nov. 1, 2018

Pinned at the top of President Trump’s Twitter feed Wednesday was a video. The man on the screen has a shaved head and a mustache and long chin hair. Smiling, he announces, “I killed f‐‐‐--- cops.”

The man is Luis Bracamontes, a twice-deported Mexican immigrant who was given the death penalty in April for killing two California law enforcement officers in 2014. At the time of the shootings, Bracamontes was in the United States illegally — and now, with the midterm election approaching, he’s the star of the GOP’s latest campaign ad.

“Illegal immigrant, Luis Bracamontes, killed our people!” reads text on the 53-second video, which is filled with audible expletives. “Democrats let him into our country. . . . Democrats let him stay.”

The text is superimposed over videos of Bracamontes appearing to show no remorse for his crimes, and even declaring, “I’m going to kill more cops soon.”

More footage follows: Throngs of unidentified people rioting in unidentified streets and pushing down fences in undisclosed locations. A Fox News Channel correspondent interviewing a man identified only as “deported immigrant in caravan,” who asks to be pardoned for attempted murder.

“Who else would Democrats let in?” the video asks. An image of Bracamontes smiling reappears before being replaced by text, “President Donald Trump and Republicans are making America safe again.”

The video, which the president promoted Wednesday afternoon to his 55.5 million Twitter followers, came with a message from Trump to “Vote Republican now!” As of early Thursday morning, the video had been viewed more than 1.8 million times, drawing widespread condemnation.

Trump and Republicans were criticized for “fearmongering,” and the ad has been decried as “racist,” with many likening it to the infamous “Willie Horton” ads supporting George H.W. Bush in the 1988 presidential election. Only the video Trump shared, critics say, is “far worse.”

About 30 years ago, William Horton, a relatively unknown African American felon in Massachusetts, became “Willie Horton,” the focal point of attack ads from Bush’s campaign against Michael Dukakis, the Democratic presidential nominee and governor of Massachusetts.

Horton, a convicted murderer serving a life sentence, was temporarily released from prison in June 1986 as part of Massachusetts’s weekend furlough program, which Dukakis supported. Horton escaped while on furlough and in April 1987, he raped a white woman and stabbed her white fiance.

The “Revolving Door” TV ad accusing Dukakis of being soft on crime showed convicts coming in and out of prison through a revolving door made of prison bars, and was meant to allude to Horton, Rolling Stone reported. The ad was largely masterminded by Roger Ailes, who founded Fox News Channel in 1996.

“The only question is whether we depict Willie Horton with a knife in his hand — or without it,” Ailes once told a reporter, according to Rolling Stone.

Another ad called “Weekend Passes,” run by the National Political Action Committee, took things a step further and included Horton’s mug shot. That ad was created by Larry McCarthy, who had worked under Ailes for six years during the 1980s, the New Yorker reported.

“This was a classic example of racial cuing,” Claire Jean Kim, a political-science professor at the University of California at Irvine, said in a 2012 PBS special. “The insinuation is, if you elect Governor Dukakis as president, we’re going to have black rapists running amok in the country. It’s playing to white fears about black crime.”


Days after synagogue massacre, online hate is thriving

AP News

By Jay Reeves

Nov. 1, 2018

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A website popular with racists that was used by the man charged in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre was shut down within hours of the slaughter, but it hardly mattered: Anti-Semites and racists who hang out in such havens just moved to other online forums.

On Wednesday, four days after 11 people were fatally shot in the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history, anonymous posters on another website popular with white supremacists, Stormfront, claimed the bloodshed at Tree of Life synagogue was an elaborate fake staged by actors. The site’s operator, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, said traffic has increased about 45 percent since the shooting.

The anti-Semitic rhetoric was just as bad on another site popular with white supremacists, The Daily Stormer, where a headline said: “Just go, Jews. You’re not welcome.”

Trying to stop the online vitriol that opponents say fuels real-world bloodshed is a constant battle for groups that monitor hate, and victories are hard to come by. Shut down one platform like Gab, where the shooting suspect posted a message shortly before the attack, and another one remains or a new one opens.

The problem dates back to the dawn of the internet, when users connected their computers to each other by dialing telephone numbers. A report issued by the New York-based Anti-Defamation League in 1985 found there were two online “networks of hate” in the United States, both run by neo-Nazis who spread anti-Semitic, racist propaganda.

The Neuroscience of Hate Speech

Opinion - The New York Times

By Richard A. Friedman

Oct. 31, 2018

Do politicians’ words, the president’s especially, matter?

Since he has been in office, President Trump has relentlessly demonized his political opponents as evil and belittled them as stupid. He has called undocumented immigrants animals. His rhetoric has been a powerful contributor to our climate of hate, which is amplified by the right-wing media and virulent online culture. 

Of course, it’s difficult to prove that incendiary speech is a direct cause of violent acts. But humans are social creatures — including and perhaps especially the unhinged and misfits among us — who are easily influenced by the rage that is everywhere these days. Could that explain why just in the past two weeks we have seen the horrifying slaughter of 11 Jews in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, with the man arrested described as a rabid anti-Semite, as well as what the authorities say was the attempted bombing of prominent Trump critics by an ardent Trump supporter?

You don’t need to be a psychiatrist to understand that the kind of hate and fear-mongering that is the stock-in-trade of Mr. Trump and his enablers can goad deranged people to action. But psychology and neuroscience can give us some important insights into the power of powerful people’s words. 

We know that repeated exposure to hate speech can increase prejudice, as a series of Polish studies confirmed last year. It can also desensitize individuals to verbal aggression, in part because it normalizes what is usually socially condemned behavior.

Reeling From Tragedy, Many in Pittsburgh Say Trump Should Not Visit

The New York Times

By Trip Gabriel

Oct. 29, 2018

PITTSBURGH — Still reeling from the horror and grief after Saturday’s massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue, Pittsburgh is now dealing with something else: the barbed politics of the 2018 midterms and widespread opposition to President Trump’s plan to visit here Tuesday.

Jewish leaders said that President Trump was not welcome in Pittsburgh and accused him of stirring up extremism.

Mayor William Peduto, who strongly rejected Mr. Trump’s suggestion that armed guards in houses of worship are the answer to violence, warned that the president would be a distraction from funerals taking place Tuesday.

Many in the Jewish community in Pittsburgh cited what they saw as the president’s divisive rhetoric, which they feel had a role in enabling the violence here, as well as other recent episodes including the mail bombs sent from Florida to prominent Democratic figures and what appears to be the racial killing of two black shoppers near Louisville, Ky. Interviews in Florida reflected a similar urgency and unease about the intersection of violence in American life and the looming midterm elections.

Anti-Semitic Incidents Were on the Rise Even Before Shooting

Oct. 29, 2018

AP News


NEW YORK (AP) — Swastikas scrawled into Jewish students’ notebooks. Headstones toppled and desecrated by vandals at Jewish cemeteries. Jews falsely blamed for challenges facing the nation.

The shooting rampage that killed 11 people at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday is being decried as the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history, allegedly carried out by a virulently anti-Semitic gunman. The carnage, however unprecedented, is not an aberration.

Year after year, decade after decade, anti-Semitism proves to be among the most entrenched and pervasive forms of hatred and bigotry in the United States.

Jews make up only about 2 percent of the U.S. population, but in annual FBI data they repeatedly account for more than half of the Americans targeted by hate crimes committed due to religious bias. The Anti-Defamation League identified 1,986 anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. in 2017, up from 1,267 in 2016, and also reported a major increase in anti-Semitic online harassment.

Anti-Semitism surfaces often in the research conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks various U.S. hate groups, including neo-Nazis, white nationalists, skinheads and others.

On Instagram, 11,696 Examples of How Hate Thrives on Social Media

​Oct. 29, 2018

The New York Times

By Sheera FrenkelMike Isaac and Kate Conger

On Monday, a search on Instagram, the photo-sharing site owned by Facebook, produced a torrent of anti-Semitic images and videos uploaded in the wake of Saturday’s shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

A search for the word “Jews” displayed 11,696 posts with the hashtag “#jewsdid911,” claiming that Jews had orchestrated the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Other hashtags on Instagram referenced Nazi ideology, including the number 88, an abbreviation used for the Nazi salute “Heil Hitler.”

The Instagram posts demonstrated a stark reality. Over the last 10 years, Silicon Valley’s social media companies have expanded their reach and influence to the furthest corners of the world. But it has become glaringly apparent that the companies never quite understood the negative consequences of that influence nor what to do about it — and that they cannot put the genie back in the bottle.

“Social media is emboldening people to cross the line and push the envelope on what they are willing to say to provoke and to incite,” said Jonathan Albright, research director at Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism. “The problem is clearly expanding.”

Stephen Miller Is an Immigration Hypocrite. I Know Because I’m His Uncle. If my nephew’s ideas on immigration had been in force a century ago, our family would have been wiped out.



August 13, 2018


I have watched with dismay and increasing horror as my nephew, an educated man who is well aware of his heritage, has become the architect of immigration policies that repudiate the very foundation of our family’s life in this country.

I shudder at the thought of what would have become of the Glossers had the same policies Stephen so coolly espouses— the travel ban, the radical decrease in refugees, the separation of children from their parents, and even talk of limiting citizenship for legal immigrants — been in effect when Wolf-Leib made his desperate bid for freedom. The Glossers came to the U.S. just a few years before the fear and prejudice of the “America first” nativists of the day closed U.S. borders to Jewish refugees. Had Wolf-Leib waited, his family likely would have been murdered by the Nazis along with all but seven of the 2,000 Jews who remained in Antopol. I would encourage Stephen to ask himself if the chanting, torch-bearing Nazis of Charlottesville, whose support his boss seems to court so cavalierly, do not envision a similar fate for him.

White Supremacists’ Use of Campus Propaganda Is Soaring, Report Finds


By Julia Jacobs

New York Times

White supremacist groups are increasingly using propaganda like fliers and posters to spread bigoted messages on college campuses, a new report by the Anti-Defamation League found.


In the past academic year, 292 such incidents were reported — a 77 percent increase from the previous year, according to the report, which was released on Thursday. The stickers, banners and other physical materials included racist and anti-Semitic messages and often targeted Muslims, nonwhite immigrants and L.G.B.T. people.

White Supremacist Propaganda Nearly Doubles on Campus in 2017-18 Academic Year


ADL’s Center on Extremism continues to track a growing number of white supremacist propaganda efforts targeting college campuses, including the distribution of racist, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic fliers, stickers, banners and posters. The 2017-18 data shows a 77 percent increase of incidents from the previous academic year, with 292 cases reported, compared to 165 in 2016-2017.

Family auctions Nobel medal for $187,000. Donates it to fight hate.


By Kwegyirba Croffie and Madeleine Thompson, CNN


A year and a half after his death, a Nobel laureate's legacy lives on.

Thomas Schelling won the Nobel prize in economics in 2005 for his work on game theory in relation to conflict resolution and avoiding war. He died at age 95 in 2016. Last week, his family auctioned off his medal and donated the $187,000 in proceeds to a cause close to his heart.

"Tom, a most rational man, was also someone who felt empathy, especially towards those whom he perceived to be unjustly treated," his widow, Alice Schelling, said in a statement. "For that reason, he and I have been longtime supporters of the Southern Poverty Law Center and it was Tom's wish that his Nobel medal be auctioned off and the proceeds donated to the SPLC. Hate and extremism should have no place in our country."

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© 2016 by the Coaltion Against Hate

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“Together, the Coalition Against Hate will meet with news media network executives to make sure that our voices are heard over the rhetoric that misinforms, prejudices, and energizes those who would commit hateful acts. It is infecting our workplaces, classrooms and homes, and we are joining groups that represent women, people of color, LGBT individuals, and people of every faith and walk of life to say enough is enough. It's high time we restore a civility to our public discourse that accurately represents and respects all people."


Alex Nogales, President & CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition