A candidate for U.S. Congress from Tennessee on Tuesday erected a highway billboard prominently displaying the slogan “Make America White Again,” a statement widely interpreted to be the real meaning of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” dog whistle.
The man responsible for the billboard is Rick Tyler, a restaurant owner running as an independent candidate to represent Tennessee’s 3rd District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Following criticism from residents in Polk County, the billboard was taken down less than 12 hours after it went up, but not by Tyler, according to local NBC affiliate WRCB, which said the owner of the billboard will not confirm if or why his company removed the signage. The station added that Tyler said he paid for the sign to be there until after the November election and wants it back up.
Rick Tyler (WSMV)
On his congressional campaign website, which also has since been taken down, Tyler named Trump as his influence and explained “The Billboard Strategy,” according to local ABC affiliate WTVC, which accessed the site before it was removed.
“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.”
Tyler went on to explain: “The Make America White Again billboard advertisement will cut to the very core and marrow of what plagues us as a nation. As Anne Coulter so effectively elucidates in her book, Adios America, the overhaul of America’s immigration law in the 1960’s (sic) has placed us on an inevitable course of demise and destruction. Yes the cunning globalist/Marxist social engineers have succeeded in destroying that great bulwark against statist tyranny the white American super majority. Without its expedited restoration little hope remains for the nation as a whole.”
In a statement to WRCP, Tyler said he has no hatred for “people of color” and the message expresses a longing for a “1960s, Ozzie and Harriet, Leave it to Beaver time when there were no break-ins; no violent crime; no mass immigration.” Meanwhile, he also yearned for a time when there was an “85 percent super white majority.”
According to WTVC, Tyler’s website features additional billboard ideas with bigoted slogans, including “Fight federal tyranny / Stop the Muslim invasion” and “Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be miscegenators.” Another billboard idea depicts two hands of different races holding one another with a circle and slash superimposed over it.
Tyler also erected a second billboard with an image of the White House surrounded by Confederate Flags and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words “I Have a Dream” emblazoned on top. A similar image with the U.S. Capitol is also part of his campaign.
Tyler’s restaurant, Whitewater Grill, in Ocoee, Tennessee, received a barrage of criticism, and its profile page on Yelp was besieged by bad reviews. The page is currently suspended.
The Kiwanis Club of Ocoee posted on Facebook that it will no longer hold meetings at the restaurant: “[We] will never meet there again. We are a civic club of inclusion and not exclusion and find these statements repugnant.”
Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Ryan Haynes released a statement following the uproar saying, “There’s no room for this type of hateful display in our political discourse. Racism should be rejected in all its heinous forms in the Third Congressional District and around the country.”