Independent politician Rick Tyler, who is running for Congress in the northeastern part of Tennessee, has garnered controversy for putting up a billboard alongside a highway in Polk County that says, “Make American White Again,” playing off of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.
After garnering criticism from community and state leaders, the billboard was taken down Tuesday night, according to ABC affiliate WTVC.
In an interview with WSMV-TV, Tyler said that he does not have any hatred of ”people of color” and instead created the billboard “expecting it to do exactly what it has done, [which is for it] to go viral and go far and wide.” He posted a statement, which he has since taken down, on his Facebook page explaining his motives for creating the billboard.
“The Caucasian race has been inordinately blessed and favored by the God of scripture” the post said. “Tyler for Congress candidacy [sic] is a last ditch effort to challenge the descendants of America’s founders to ‘return to the ancient landmarks.’”
Tyler’s campaign has also put another billboard along a different highway that showcases the White House surrounded by Confederate flags. At the top of that billboard are Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous words: “I Have a Dream.”
In his Facebook post, Tyler — who ran as an independent in the 2014 Senate race in Tennessee, getting less than half a percentage point of the vote against Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) — credited Trump for his billboard slogan. “Clearly we are in uncharted waters, in that there has never been a candidacy like this in modern political history,” he wrote. “Of great significance, as well, is the reality of the Trump phenomenon and the manner in which he has loosened up the overall spectrum of political discourse.”
His platform calls to ban same-sex marriage, dubbing it a “collective form of insanity gripping our nation,” and supports home schooling and private Christian education to “supplant and challenge the hegemony of corrupt and subversive state education.”
Trump has yet to explain exactly what part of American history he is referring to when he vows to “Make America Great Again.” But throughout his now year-long campaign, he has disparaged women, Latinos, Muslims, and various other ethnic groups. Trump voters are more likely than other Republicans to have negative feelings towards feminists, Muslims, Latinos, gays and lesbians, and transgender people.
Tyler isn’t the one person who has been influenced by Trump’s racist and xenophobic rhetoric. ThinkProgress has been tracking violent and hateful incidents inspired by Trump across the country. In Alabama, for example, members of the crowd at a Trump rally yelled out “white power!” multiple times. And in North Carolina, a Trump supporter sucker-punched a black man at a rally. The supporter later said in an interview that “next time we see him, we might have to kill him.”
Across the pond, one pro-Brexit commercial featured a white woman who takes her sick mother to the local hospital. The next scene displayed a split screen, with two alternative stories about what happens next — one with Britain outside the EU, and the other with it still inside. In the future where Britain is outside the EU, the couple wait a short time with a few other white people before being seen by a doctor. In the other, the woman and her mother wait for hours to be seen in a waiting room packed with people of color, the implication being that minorities and immigrants hurt the well-being of the British people.
In a similar vein, earlier this month Nigel Farage, the head of the U.K. Independence Party, released a photo that claimed England was at its “breaking point” and that the “EU has failed us all." Accompanying the text was a photo of immigrants who were mostly racial minorities.
The seat Tyler is seeking is held by Republican Charles Fleischmann. Tyler is widely seen as a long shot candidate.
Author: Valcy Etienne