Thomas Robb (center in dark glasses) outside the federal court in Los Angeles in April 1993 during the Rodney King trial. (AP file photo by David Longstreath)
Trump could promote “fairness to all people,” he says
The election of Donald Trump as the United States’ 45th president isn’t a mandate for white supremacy nor does Thomas Robb, he insists, wish it were.
In fact, the Harrison-based minister and KKK leader believes Mr. Trump’s ascension portends good for some minorities — as well as many white people.
“There’s many reasons to support Donald Trump besides the solitary issue of race,” Mr. Robb told me in a phone interview the day after the election. “His policies that we support would be beneficial to all people. The destruction of ISIS. … Restore the rule of law to our country and our community. The Second Amendment, the right of the citizens to own guns for self-defense.”
Since the early 1980s, Mr. Robb has led a branch of the Ku Klux Klan near Harrison, The Knights Party, which Mr. Robb says is a “white heritage” organization.
Mr. Trump’s popularity was fueled not only by an “anger among white people,” Mr. Robb said, but also by a longing for a return to conservative values that whites, blacks, and Hispanics – especially those in the “working class” – embrace.
As recently as a week ago, however, in denouncing “hate in any form,” Mr. Trump disavowed the endorsement of The Crusader, the KKK’s newspaper.
Mr. Robb insisted the organization he leads is different from the original KKK.
Primarily, The Knights Party doesn’t promote hate or violence. The Knights Party sells “Heritage Not Hate” T-shirts on its website.
The organization has suffered from an inaccurate portrayal of it as a group of “evil people, nasty people, hateful people, people that wanted to do harm to everybody that wasn’t white and Christian,” he said. “That is simply not true.”
“I think most people of our persuasion just have a feeling that [they wish] the government would just pull back … [and] not attempt to stick its face into every local issue — like Obama has done several times with various police shootings with young black men.
“I’d like to see a return of our public schools back to local control, see perhaps the dismantling of the [U.S.] Department of Education and allow local communities to make the decisions for how the children will be taught.”
If this leads to voluntary racial segregation, Mr. Robb said, so be it.
“I don’t think sitting next to a white child is going to make blacks perform any better,” he said. “In fact, they can perform better being among their own people, and so [bring an end to] the programs from the government that forces the government’s will upon the people,” Mr. Robb said. “I think, and maybe I’m wrong, could be wrong, but I think that most white people prefer being around white people and most black people or people of color prefer being around their own people — people they can relate to, that they share life experiences with.”
He wants America to return to what he believes was the prevalent “white Christian compassionate nature” of decades ago. Trump can help accomplish that, he said.
“This doesn’t mean I believe in discriminating against black people,” Mr. Robb said. “I think black people like to love their heritage, culture, to work for their own interests. I believe black people have a right to possess guns, to protect their families, same as a white person. … I don’t think we need a policy of discrimination. I think we just need a policy of fairness to all people.”
For a different perspective on the racial dynamics of Donald Trump’s ascendancy, see the AMP interview with Arkansas Judge Wendell Griffen, a long-time champion of minority rights.