Iraq War Veteran and Purple Heart recipient Zach Choate says he was kicked out of a Trump event this week to say no to racism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia
JAISAL NOOR, PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Jaisal Noor in Baltimore. Donald Trump is heading into Thursday night’s Republican debate after a dominating performance on Super Tuesday, where he secured a wide lead in superdelegates, throwing the GOP establishment into further disarray. Mitt Romney came out of retirement of sorts on Thursday morning to take him on. MITT ROMNEY: Here’s what I know. Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. [Applause] NOOR: Also on Thursday, MSNBC’s, on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Trump said he hasn’t ruled out a third party run. But what’s gotten less attention in the mainstream media are Trump’s racist and xenophobic comments against immigrants and Muslims, and the violence that protesters at Trump events have faced. Among those videos that has gone viral recently is that of an African American student from Louisville Kentucky you can see or hear getting pushed and shoved out of a Trump rally by what is basically a white mob. They also called her racial slurs. [AUDIO CLIP: Donald Trump speaking in background. Foreground includes shouting, racial slurs] NOOR: Well, now joining us to discuss this is another one of those protesters who was also kicked out of a Trump rally earlier this week. His name is Zach Choate. He’s an Iraq War veteran who was awarded the Purple Heart and overcame many challenges when he returned home from war. Now he’s a peace advocate. Zach, thanks so much for joining us. ZACH CHOATE: Thanks for having me. NOOR: So we want to get you to respond to this video, which has now gone viral all over the internet. It’s of an African American woman, a student from the University of Louisville of Kentucky being harassed at a Trump rally. [AUDIO CLIP: Donald Trump speaking in background. Foreground includes shouting, racial slurs] NOOR: So we wanted to get your response. The man pictured in that video is a veteran himself. He was a veteran of the Korean War. How do you respond to this situation, and to Trump’s rhetoric overall? CHOATE: Well, I think it’s got to stop, you know, the hate speech. And, you know, the fact that this is the norm for anybody who opposes any of Trump’s ideas that attend their rallies. And the fact that this is, we’re seeing this almost immediately after any one of his campaign rallies, it’s just the norm now, and people are saying, well, look, that’s just a Trump rally. That’s just what happens. The hate is becoming more acceptable, you know, the violence. And it’s unsettling to me. NOOR: And the fact that the man pictured in that video, he himself is a veteran. He was a veteran of the Korean War. How do you respond to that? CHOATE: Right. Well, as I’ve said before, wth a couple of other interviews, these Trump rallies are supposedly filled to the brim with America’s so-called patriots. That’s how they see themselves, and you know, for a veteran of any generation, conflict or no conflict involved in their terms, that’s not the way that you show your patriotism. I myself, not to take away from that, I myself and another veteran, actually three other veterans were forcibly removed from a Trump rally in Alabama. And you know, the fact that 32 thousand people all were in applause of that, you know, kind of takes you back and makes you wonder. NOOR: And so we’re going to play a bit of that video of you getting kicked out for our videos. DONALD TRUMP: Tell me, tell me. Isn’t it fun to be at a Trump rally? Isn’t this [inaud.]? [Applause] NOOR: And so Donald Trump is sort of celebrating you being thrown out. People are cheering all around. Describe exactly why you were there. You obviously knew you were kind of putting your body on the line. Whenever people disrupt Trump rallies they are forcibly thrown out, and actually now when Trump holds a rally, the first thing they announce is like, “Please don’t beat up the protesters. Surround them and yell, ‘Trump.’” CHOATE: Exactly. NOOR: So just describe what led you to do this and put your body on the line. CHOATE: Well, you know, immediately after my return from Iraq and out of the army in 2008 I became kind of, you know, engulfed in what it is that we were actually doing there. And that’s aside from the question you’ve asked, but I kind of got into that, the world of peace activism, the world of actually practicing my democratic rights, because I believe veterans do have a voice and should, on all accounts, be listened to for their experience, especially when we’re talking about middle eastern issues. Back to your question, you know, Trump, I think his whole campaign was started on a joke, and he might be able to agree with that too, but now it’s taken hold, and it’s taken hold based on the fact that he’s openly hateful. His hate speech, his bigotry, his anti-Islam and xenophobic comments are very, they’re becoming accepted, and I believe the people that feel this way, his followers [who] maybe aren’t so vocal about it, now they’re seeing that they have a voice, and they can come out there and be as vocal as they want about this. You know, I was describing to the other veteran that’s pictured in that video as well, at one point before we did the banner drop, that I closed my eyes for a moment. And just being in that environment, because we were in the same section as some Black Lives Matter protesters–I’m not even going to call them protesters, some Black Lives Matter members. And, you know, hearing their reaction to them, and just opposition in general, it almost sounded like I was in a Klan rally. Or, you know, I couldn’t imagine that that was my country and that was what I was hearing so open and so accepted. NOOR: And so not only is Trump, you know, full of this vitriol and this xenophobia, but he’s also tapped into this real sense of economic despair, the lack of jobs, the lack of opportunities that many even white Americans are facing throughout this country. You know, millions of jobs were lost due to free trade agreements over the last 20 years. This entire country’s been affected by that. Talk a little bit more about why that does have an appeal, in your opinion, to people, and how combining that and the vitriolic rhetoric, why people feel like Trump could be a solution for them, or could help solve their problems, give them a voice. CHOATE: You know, you’d have to ask them. It’s kind of obvious why, when a job’s taken away from an American they, people like to point the finger, you know? But away from that, it’s all about the hate speech that he’s spreading. That’s what the real issue is here. NOOR: All right, well thank you so much for joining us. CHOATE: All right, thank you. NOOR: Thank you for joining us at the Real News Network.