For those of you unfamiliar with their work, The Southern Poverty Law Center is one of the premier groups fighting hate crimes and racial violence. They are responsible for the financial takedown of the Ku Klux Klan in numerous wrongful death cases against African-Americans.
And surprise! They are outright alarmed by the Trump presidency.
CAROL COSTELLO: Richard Cohen is President of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Thank you so much for being with me this morning. So we have been talking a lot about Steve Bannon. Used to run Breitbart. He said he's a member of the alt-Right, White nationalists embrace him. What do you know about Steve Bannon?
RICHARD COHEN, SPLC: You know, Bannon said he is providing a platform for the alt-Right and the alt-Right is nothing more than White supremacy rebranded for a digital age. He's been their mouthpiece. Mr. Priebus saying -- I feel sorry for Mr. Priebus because now he's made a deal with the devil. He has to support Bannon. But I think anyone who goes to the Breitbart website and looks at the kind of things that are out there I think would be shocked.
COSTELLO: So I have heard people say we have checks and balances in this country so why are we worrying so much, this is just one voice in Mr.Trump 's administration.
COHEN: Well, the white supremacists on Stormfront today are saying Bannon has Mr.Trump 's ear. It's not entirely surprising what Trump has done. Trump ran a racist campaign from the first day he came down that escalator at Trump Tower. He brought Mr. Bannon in not simply because Mr. Bannon is smart, not simply because Mr. Bannon is talented but because Mr. Bannon himself is a White nationalist. So it's disheartening to see him in the administration, especially after Mr.Trump said oh, he was going to bind the wounds of division. It's disheartening but quite frankly not entirely surprising.
COSTELLO: For a lot of Trump supporters, they don't believe Mr. Trump ran a racist campaign. He was just saying things that needed to be said, that needed to be out in the open so that we could deal with it as a nation, to even the playing field.
COHEN: Look, when you start calling Mexicans rapists, when you say that we should ban Muslims from the country, when you say horribly misogynist things and when you mock the disabled, I don't see how people of good will can defend you.
COSTELLO: So in real world terms, because your organization keeps track of the number of minorities who are harassed in this country, what are you seeing?
COHEN: We are seeing a lot of ugliness and it's widespread. We have tracked more than 300 incidents since Mr.Trump was elected of anti-immigrant vitriol, of vandalism, anti-immigrant, anti-black, anti-LGBT and it's incredibly widespread. We are seeing it at Walmart, seeing it on the street and seeing it most especially in schools and universities.
COSTELLO: How much has it spiked? Is it just in a few cities across the nation? Is it -- like how would you characterize it?
COHEN: It's really something that we are seeing across the country from New York to California, from Michigan down to Florida. It's very very widespread and very very ugly. I wish Mr.Trump would speak out forcefully. Yesterday on "60 Minutes" he said he had seen one or two instances of it. He must not be reading the newspaper or getting his news feeds because it's quite widespread.
COSTELLO: Now, some Trump supporters might suggest that you are ignoring the attacks on Trump supporters out there on the part of minority groups.
COHEN: We are not. We have them on our website as well. We are not ignoring anything. But the attacks from theTrump people are much greater. Let me say, it's not surprising. White supremacists out there are celebrating Mr.Trump 's people are saying he's given them new hope. Some white, very prominent white supremacists have told their people go out and make people feel unwelcome. Go out and make them feel afraid. Unfortunately, that's what's happening.
I highly recommend following the SPLC on Twitter and keeping up with their defense against hate crimes based on bigotry and racism:
The KKK and American Nazi Party have come out with a full endorsement of the Steve Bannon appointment.
Bannon will “push Trump in the right direction,” suggested Richard Spencer, president of the white nationalist National Policy Institute. “That would be a wonderful thing.”
“It makes sense to me,” added Brad Griffin, author of the white nationalist website Occidental Dissent.
Bannon “will hold Trump to the promises he has already made during the campaign,” Griffin added.
“We endorse many of those promises like building the wall, deportations, ending refugee resettlement, preserving the Second Amendment.”