This was the week the Ku Klux Klan became a partisan issue. After Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump declined the chance to distance himself from the KKK and former Grand Wizard David Duke in an interview this past Sunday, one of his most vocal cable news supporters came to his defense in what ended up being a heated CNN segment on Super Tuesday.
As CNN’s Van Jones attempted to highlight the dangers of “playing games” with the Klan, Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord repeatedly argued that the KKK was nothing more than a tool of the political Left.
“One minute they were talking about whether or not Trump was cool with racism,” The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah said Thursday night after playing a portion of the exchange for his viewers. “And the next thing you know, the Trump supporter is basically blaming the Klan on liberals.”
When Lord said the Klan lynched and killed African-Americans to “further the progressive agenda,” Noah stopped the tape to shout, “What the fuck?!” The host called “bullshit” on the suggestion that Democrats are the “real racists.”
“A lot of people like to skip over the fact that when it comes to race relations, historically Republicans and Democrats switched positions,” Noah said. “Yeah, Republicans were basically Democrats and the Democrats were basically Republicans.”
“What happened was, Lincoln, way back in the day, the first Republican president,” Noah continued. “He did free the slaves and the Democrats of the time spent the next eighty years busting on black people, instituting segregation and founding terrorist groups like the KKK, who hated black people and proper spelling.”
Turning to Lord’s argument specifically, Noah said that he may have been right about the Democratic Party of the early 20th century. But once presidents like Lyndon B. Johnson started to back civil rights legislation, “that lead to a mass exodus of racists from the Democratic Party.” His prime example was Strom Thurmond, a “huge racist” who ended up switching parties to become a Republican.
Noah spelled out the issue in the most basic terms, perhaps so Trump’s followers could understand: “Just because something used to be something doesn’t mean it still is. What matters more is what it is now.”