A Tennessee congressional candidate has caused uproar with a billboard advertisement that states "Make America White Again". Rick Tyler, an independent running for the seat held by Representative Chuck Fleischmann, is hoping to energise the white "sleeping giant" in the US.
Tyler claims he does not have hatred in his heart for "people of colour" but rather hopes the sign brings back a return to a "1960s, 'Ozzie and Harriet,' 'Leave it to Beaver' time when there were no break-ins, no violent crime, no mass immigration." His sign, which was located near US Highway 411, was removed earlier on Wednesday (22 June), without his prior authorisation, he claims.
"My main impetus would be to stop the cessation of all non-white immigration into the US," Tyler said. He then asked, "What's the big deal with make America white again?"
According to The Times Free Press, Tyler has a second sign on US Highway 64, which features Martin Luther King's famous "I Have a Dream" quote above a rendition of the White House surrounded by Confederate flags.
"I'm doing something that in modern political history no one has ever done. I'm laying out the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth," Tyler said in an interview, in which he described himself as "an insurgent candidate." He added, "There are certain issues that are verboten in modern politics, race obviously being one of them."
Tyler told reporters he believes that a large majority of white Americans agree with him but are cautious about saying so publicly.
Fleischmann, a Republican, denounced his rival candidate and his "Make America White Again" billboard. "I totally and unequivocally condemn the billboard and Mr Tyler's message and will vigorously fight any form of racism in the 3rd district of Tennessee or anywhere else in the nation," he said in a statement.
Tyler was also denounced by Tennessee Republican party Chairman Ryan Haynes. "There's no room for this type of hateful display in our political discourse," Haynes said. "Racism should be rejected in all its heinous forms in the Third Congressional District and around the country."
According to The Hill, a local Kiwanis club announced on Facebook it would boycott Tyler's restaurant in response to the billboards. Tyler previously ran for US Senate in 2014 but only won 0.4% of the vote in the general election. He is one of three independent candidates running against Fleischmann in the November general election this year.