As historian and MSNBC contributor Jon Meacham appeared as a guest on Friday's Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, he repeatedly made references to racist public figures or groups from history like George Wallace and the KKK as he discussed modern-day political battles and President Donald Trump. At one point, he lectured about American history: "But the forces the President embodies -- and the forces that he marshaled and managed to become President -- are perennial ones. The American spirit isn't just about Martin Luther King Jr.-- it's also about the Klan. And the battle is between those two."
Earlier in the discussion, he dubbed the Trump presidency "America held hostage" as he complained that the White House is being "ostentatiously corrupt." A bit later, referring back to host Bill Maher's previous guests -- liberal protesters David Hogg and Cameron Kasky -- Meacham likened them to members of the Civil Rights Movement. Meacham:
These young men -- who are leading an extraordinary effort in terms of reform -- I have a feeling may take their place with the children of Birmingham who went into the streets and drew Bull Connor's wrath."
He then invoked Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and Abraham Lincoln, before lamenting that there is not currently a President who will take up the liberal activists' cause.
After fellow panel member and former Attorney General Eric Holder fretted that "Trumpism" has been "unleashed" and will not go away easily, Meacham added: "Trumpism is not new. Trumpism is an iteration of a theme of George Wallace and Strom Thurmond, all the way back."
After he and Holder worried that it is "worse" now because Trump actually succeeded in getting elected President, Meacham added: "I think it will help us remain somewhat sane if we remember, in context, this is a verse in an unhappy poem, but it is just a verse."
As Maher bemoaned that Trump is not like other Presidents of the past, Meacham made his KKK reference as he concluded:
But the forces the President embodies -- and the forces that he marshaled and managed to become President -- are perennial ones. The American spirit isn't just about Martin Luther King Jr.-- it's also about the Klan. And the battle is between those two.