While running for office in 1924, the KKK approached Harry Truman and offered to support him if he joined their group.
“They were congenital racists,” Truman said, “and I believe their philosophy to be the ultimate in vulgarity. I looked at those miserable creatures and told them that they could take their support and stick it where the good lord intended such things to be stuck.”
Truman later heard that some of them wanted to kill him. “I knew that you have to draw the line when your life is threatened, and my only choice was to confront them head on.”
He did so at one of their own meetings. He wanted to go by himself, but his Jewish friend, Eddie Jacobson, refused to let him go alone, and later relayed what Truman had said to them, including the “colorful” language Truman thought appropriate for such situations. Sensitive readers may want to cover their eyes while reading.
“I understand that some of you have threatened to kill me. Well if you want take your lives in your hands, let’s have a go at it right now! Telling me I can’t hire a Catholic or a Negro or a Jew is undiluted bull—t, cause I’m going to hire anyone I damn well please. Those jobs are for all the people, not just a few hooded bastards like you — Shame on you.”
Truman’s stance was courageous by any account. We need only contrast that to Trump cowering in his White House bunker during the protests.