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When Will Donald Trump Denounce Islamophobic Robocalls?

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Registered voters across Iowa received a strange phone call over the weekend; a robotic message from a white nationalist super PAC, urging them to vote for Donald Trump for president in 2016.

“I’m Jared Taylor with American Renaissance,” the 50-second call begins. “I urge you to vote for Donald Trump, because he is the one candidate who points out that we should accept immigrants who are good for America. We don’t need Muslims, we need smart, well-educated white people, who will assimilate to our culture. Vote Trump.”

The message, sponsored by the American National Super PAC, includes voices from farmers, religious figures, and other white nationalists. Just before the concluding beep, a voice says, “this call was not authorized by Donald Trump.” While the presidential candidate has not endorsed the white supremacist group, he also hasn’t spoken out against them.

The Reverends Emmett G. Price III and Irene Monroe joined Jim Braude and Margery Eagan on Boston Public Radio for their regular Monday feature, All Revved Up. “The message was kind of sickening,” Price said. “But I appreciate that we live in a country that has freedom of speech. I think the challenge is, we’ve raised a number of generations where people don’t interrogate ideology. So yes, the robocall is fine. People don’t have to believe that, but when you take it to believe that this is something that is fair and equitable and democratic, then I have a problem.”

According to Price, the problem is more with impressionable voters than with Trump himself, as Trump hasn’t endorsed the group. But does his silence speak volumes? “He enables it,” Monroe said. “While he’s an equal opportunity offender, he never said, ‘look, this is not what you do.’”

When Senator John McCain was running for president in 2008, a woman at a rally called Obama an ‘Arab,’ saying that she couldn’t trust him. McCain famously took the microphone from her and responded, "No, ma'am. He's a decent family man [and] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign's all about. He's not [an Arab]."

Trump has not made a similar response of disavowing the robocalls, but then...Trump is not McCain. In the words of Emmett Price, “Why would you expect Trump not be Trump?”

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To hear All Revved Up, click the audio link above. Rev. Emmett G. Price III is a professor of music at Northeastern University, and the author of The Black Church and Hip Hop Culture. Rev. Irene Monroe is a syndicated religion columnist who writes for Huffington Post and Bay Windows.

WGBH News coverage is a resource provided by member-supported public radio. We can’t do it without you.
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