Actor Jeff Daniels recently compared supporters of President Donald Trump to KKK members portrayed in the Broadway production of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Daniels, who portrays Atticus Finch in the drama based on Harper Lee’s novel, appeared on MSNBC Monday and responded enthusiastically after host Nicole Wallace mentioned a scene in which Scout, Finch’s daughter, sees a person that she knows in a group of Klan members.
Daniels then talked about how people revealed their true selves by celebrating Trump’s election in 2016.
“I live in Michigan. After the election, I was surprised at some of the people,” Daniels said. “You know I said, ‘Could you believe this election?’ And they go, ‘Yeah, isn’t it great?’ And you’re going ‘Whoa.’ And my wife’s on Facebook and she goes, ‘We’ve got another Trumper.’ You know, you didn’t see it coming.”
Daniels then linked the present and the play.
“Atticus goes through this,” he said, noting that the character’s mindset is, “I know these people, they’re good people.” However, Daniels denigrated Finch as “an apologist, he’s an enabler.”
Daniels then spoke directly to Trump supporters.
“And I think there are people in the Midwest, between the coasts, who don’t know anything about this, who don’t care about this, who don’t have any time for this, who have to make a decision now,” he said.
“You have to decide whether, like Atticus, you believe that there is still compassion, decency, civility, respect for others — ‘Do unto others,’ remember that? — ‘Do unto others.’ All that stuff you guys believe in, and you still voted not for Hillary or for Trump. Where are you now?” he said.
Daniels continued to equate the antagonists in the play with Trump and his supporters.
“A mob is a place where people go to take a break from their conscience,” he said, quoting from the play.
“That’s what I see when I look at Donald Trump’s rallies, that’s when I see the lies he’s spewing at these people, and people going, ‘I gotta believe in something,’ and he said he’d bring my manufacturing job back and she didn’t, and I’m all in,'” he said. “But at the end of the day, aside from ‘Yeah, I don’t want to pay taxes,’ it’s race. It’s race.”
Daniels then dramatized what he sees as the stakes in America’s current politics.
“If the big gamble is to go all the way to November 2020 … and lose, it’s the end of democracy.”
Daniels said the Republican Party bears some of the blame for the rise of Trump.
“This is about the Republican Party, or one wing of it, going, ‘This is our last chance to save the party. And if we don’t, it’s the end of the Republican Party.’ And the only way they can do that was to tap the race button and say, ‘Go ahead, it’s OK,’” he said.
Daniels voiced the hope that the unredacted report of special counsel Robert Mueller might bring about Trump’s downfall and wished for someone within the Justice Department to release it.
“I’m waiting for that guy,” Daniels said.
“I need people to stand up and be heroic. Because democracy is at stake.”
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