Since David Duke decided to run for Congress, some of my republican friends have warned not to give him the exposure he craves because by mentioning his name it gives him oxygen to propel his white supremacist message. I take their claims more seriously than others from my own political knowledge and experience. And, I know the reasons why the toxic message can be more potent than the messenger.
Over a decade, I have devoted substantial amounts of my time without desire of compensation to aid in the defeat of David Duke. On election day, John Treen, his then opponent, was in my vehicle when we came upon Duke on Veterans and Bonnabel. A photo grab of me clinching Treen seconds after losing the race was front-page news the following morning.
I researched with Beth Rickey, worked with anti-Duke organizations, aided Edwards’s campaign and got very close to being pummeled with a cane by one of his top henchmen, after an Angela Hill interview with Duke.
I gave area speeches explaining why Duke was not the person he claimed. Others would claim how he had changed; however, my research and analysis, proved this to be a falsehood.
The Southern Region of B'nai Brith‘s “Newsmaker of the Year” honored me with an award for my efforts of which I did not even know existed.
Yes, I have my anti-Duke scar tissue. And, deplore his presence back in the political arena. I never imagined I would need to revisit making him politically irrelevant, yet again in 2016!
So, of late, whenever I am accused of “fanning the flames” by my reporting on the US Senate election - and now, discussing Duke, I wonder how many complainants (which as of now is only coming from the pro-Trump camp), actually voted for Duke? Or, if they had made any effort at all to ensure he became insignificant? Who, if any, would now admit to having supported Duke in his bids for Governor and Senator?
The fact remains, I am not the only one talking about David Duke over the past few days. Let me see— Roger Villere, the Louisiana Republican Party Chairman sent over an email stating Duke has no support from the GOP. The same sentiment was stated by the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
And, so did US Senate candidate, Colonel Rob Maness, Tea Party candidate. Interestingly, RNC Chairman, Reince Priebus deliberately slammed him!
During this same time period, Donald Trump seemed to be able to find time after winning the GOP presidential nomination to smear his own party. Beginning once more to accuse Ted Cruz’s father of a far-fetched and disproven conspiracy theory involving JFK. It continued with a battery of slams towards John Kasich and Ted Cruz. Notably, though, not David Duke – not until he was pointedly questioned on ‘Meet the Press’. (See video below)
After David Duke widely announced his Louisiana Senate bid, Roger Villere sent over this message:
I also received this in one of my social media feeds:
On twitter, Colonel Rob Maness has engaged in virtual hand-to-hand combat with Duke. Given the fact that some of the same voters could choose the Tea Party candidate, instead of Duke, I give Maness tremendous credit for risking the backlash from Duke voters. I also credit those GOP leaders for standing up immediately and taking him on.
So, I hope those who attacked me in the past (or, future) for discussing Duke regarding his presence in an ill-fated bid for a Senate grab, will also question why party leaders are sending over GOP statements to publish?
At the time when I helped fight against Duke in the 80’s and 90’s, I was not involved in the media. But, now I am. As a result, the obligation is to deliver the announcement because it is news. Not all news is worthy, as we know. When we hear those criticizing media for discussing Duke in fear of his gaining newfound recognition, I wonder how they would feel in a different situation?
Suppose we had done the same with Trump, and gave him no free airtime or media share coverage? Wouldn’t we have been blasted for being “politically correct” and unfair?
So, how do we tell the story of this US Senate election? Do we ignore Duke altogether, even if his presence would impact the tenor, the politics and possibly the outcome? We view him as the elephant in the room (not a slight to the GOP logo). Should media just go dark on him and ignore what is going on?
So, now the election has a candidate who is extremely controversial, to state the obvious. As the author of two books about Duke, Tyler Bridges told me in a recent interview, Duke might be the most high-profile person from Louisiana. What rationale should I utilize to discriminate against Duke regarding press coverage? Should I say it is because he is racist and anti-semitic and I don’t like his positioning?
If I (or media, in general) were to do anything of this sort, his supporters would accuse us of censorship. And, how do I honor free speech if I am bent on ignoring his presence in an important decision for Louisiana voters?
Also, the media has a commitment to provide information, especially if the subject is topical. Duke has qualified as a GOP candidate, yet Roger Villere has been cogently responsive to what Duke calls LAGOP bias. How can we whisk away these political topics as irrelevant?
Duke, like everybody else should be covered. The more newsworthy the subject, the greater the coverage. People have a right to know what they consider to be important and if I don’t publish the relevant story, you can bet, it will still go public. I loathed the free media share coverage Trump constantly received, which I believe greatly benefited the rise of his campaign. Fox News and countless outlets covered him almost exclusively. But, I didn’t hear a single complaint from the pro-Trump supporters.
Possibly, the most important reason Duke is suddenly politically relevant is the very fact that he is a candidate for US Senate, not local dogcatcher. He and the other candidates will be discussing national issues -- just like the Presidential candidates. Doesn’t the media now have an obligation to look at the various statements from those at the very top of the GOP ticket to those running for US Senate, to contrast and compare philosophies, perspectives and opinions? Even if those views we find to be repugnant? Unfortunately - and absolutely.
TRUMP IS NOT DUKE; HE REPUDIATES DUKE
True. But, the obvious question to ask, how are Duke’s views different from Trump’s and his swelling population of supporters?
It is undeniable, Duke and his followers are ardent Trump supporters. Duke, his direct followers and those who make up that far-far right extremism worship him like a religion. They defend his every word. They intimidate others online and face-to-face who oppose Trump. David Duke stated if whites don’t support Trump, they would be committing treason against their heritage (white race). Judging from the strident, almost spiritual way they back Trump, their “Messiah” has arrived.
The support is almost irrational. How can Duke and the rightwing extremists around the world back a man from the so-called liberal New York and with a heavy Queens accent? The answer is obvious: On most important issues, they speak the same language and are joined at the hip. Trump favors policies that are very attractive to David Duke and his followers and constantly blows his dog whistle to keep them on the chain.
The one major area of disagreement that splits many of his racist and Neo-Nazi supporters and those who support his policies and statements, but who surely do not fall in the pathetic population, directly relates to Israel, the Middle East and Jewry. Duke loathes Jews, Israel and Zionism. His supporters and many occupying that extreme, extreme right, do likewise. The Internet is littered with anti-semites who say the most hateful words to anybody they suspect to be Jewish, especially when it comes to the issue of Trump. They remind Jews on twitter and social media that their grandparents were turned into lampshades, gassed, and enslaved.
Yet, many of the mainstream Republicans and social and religious conservatives, for many reasons, are Israel’s and American Jewry most loyal supporters. I humbly thank them for their tenacious backing.
Compared to the Democratic Party, they are loyal. You feel their commitment. Not the Democrats under Obama. The school is out on Clinton and Trump. Both have made overtures. Trump, however said he wanted to be a neutral broker, a statement of which Rubio and Cruz--two of his presidential primary opponents-- harshly repudiated him. They seemed to side with Israel unconditionally. Not Trump.
Other than the religious and mainstream GOP support for Israel, on so many other issues, I honestly do not know where and how the Duke and some of the ardent Trump supporters diverge. Now that Trump is the GOP nominee, unfortunately, a dark question mark shadow falls directly upon the Republican Party.
While many of the avid Trump supporters have taken issue with this following statement—in my opinion, it is true as the sky is blue: Trump has made confusing statements about Duke. While at times, he has uttered the words of repudiation, he still reaches out to Duke’s far right wing mass of haters with tweets and campaign statements. Trump is attracting the alt-right fanatics the same way flies circle trash.
While I acknowledge Trump has uttered the words of repudiation towards Duke, the controversies surrounding the right-wing haters’ support Trump’s fumbling with the issue. This has spoken volumes! A simple comparison of his emotional display of contempt for others compared to his “repudiation” for Duke only tells a part of it . (see video below)
When his campaign was recently criticized for tweeting out another mime from a hate site, this one sporting a Star of David in front of a pile of money slamming Hillary Clinton, instead of acknowledging people could reasonably be offended by the image, he showed more contempt for those criticizing him than he has ever shown against Duke or his followers!
Words have meaning, but actions speak louder. We all know how angry he got and how sharp his words were when he excoriated Cruz, Bush, Rubio and the gang of what he called “losers”. Or, perhaps he called them crooked. Or liars. Or cheaters. Or, blood coming out of their, “whatevers”. Those excoriations were intended to belittle his opponents and to get him votes. By contrast, compare Trump’s responses and repudiations with those of Colonel Maness. You know exactly how he feels about Duke and thank the lord he does.
However, looking at the string of his repudiations of Duke compared to his other slashing retorts against his opponents, the media and everybody he decides to attack and his distancing from Duke, is, at best suspect. Obviously, cowardly repudiating is one thing, but forcefully criticizing him and encouraging him and his type to leave the Republican Party, (as Maness has done), is an animal of a different color.
DON’T LINK DUKE TO THE GOP
I know that some of my ardent Republican Trump supporter friends are going to be upset when I say this, but, in many ways, so many—you created Duke’s presence and his current run, as a Republican, for US Senate. You made the field fertile for him to toil. The far left-wing of the Democratic Party and some of its outrageous followers have their share of responsibility, too. They stirred the pot with their politics and theatrics, which has only resulted in predictable over-reactions. Still, Dukism and its hate-extremism didn't just surprisingly materialize over night, in time for the Louisiana contest. It has been festering, seeping into our soil, by talk radio, on Facebook, Twitter and hate TV.
Nonetheless, You glow with pleasure when Trump says whatever he wants, no matter how inaccurate or how hurtful his words might be. When the media and others show outrage, you rebuke them with—“Trump won’t be “politically correct”, you say, “Trump is speaking for me, he is saying things I’ve wanted to say, now for years”.
These are the exact words that many of you have also said about David Duke.
They both claim their words and their ideas will make America great. Trump has even adopted (perhaps knowingly) Duke’s slogan, “America First” a reminder of the pro-Nazi-Germany movement last century. The Anti-Defamation League have urged Trump to discontinue using that tag for obvious reasons. Trump has demurred.
In truth, their words and their actions have helped make America hate.
Recently, you’ve blamed President Obama for the recent cop killings. No, Obama did not carry the gun. Nor did he shoot. Nor, is he a gun. But, somehow, many of you blame the president for the rash incidents of racial violence. Yet, when it comes to Duke, you want no responsibility.
When Donald Trump talks about illegal alien Mexicans being rapists and killers (and some good people), you applaud and scream, Trump, Trump, Trump. When he talks about how an illegal alien has killed, you get “as mad as hell, you’re not going to take it anymore”. Nobody should be breaking the law and, yes, undocumented immigration is a problem, needing fixing. But, there are millions of good examples of immigrant students doing well, parents working two jobs and Hispanics continuing to help America be great. Trump has played your emotions exactly as Duke (and his type) have played their followers’ emotions, with xenophobic images of hate and anger and nativism. Is it any surprise we would equate Trump (and you) with David Duke and his ilk?
When Trump says he will stop Muslims from entering the country based upon race and his lapdog, Gingrich said Muslims should be tested to see if they support Sharia law, they simply work the soil for the haters. Do we need protection from terrorists? Yes. Are we doing a good enough job? No. But, a total ban? Indeed, when Trump promoted those bizarre ideas to get primary votes, many Republicans, Democrats and Independents screamed racism and bigotry. We wondered if David Duke and those like him invaded the body of Trump and those of his angry supporters? We wondered about the parallels of Trump and the rise of Nazism in Germany. We called the idea unconstitutional and impossible to implement and said it could actually cause greater harm, than good.
In response, the hard-core Trumpers denied our concerns, called us names and even questioned our love for America. Now, the primary is over, and Trump outflanked his opponents to their political right, his softening of the ban has become apparent. Trump denied the sincerity of his own outrageous policy, saying he was only making “a suggestion”. Then, he said, he will deal with terrorism by nation, not religion. Nonetheless, you blasted us for condemning a radical right-wing hate monster for an unworkable policy. Now, that he has moved more towards the opposite, we do not hear the term extremism. So, Trump will make America great, my friends? Is it any surprise to equate Trump and you with the likes of David Duke and his ilk?
Indeed, I don’t know anybody saying that Trump has Duke’s background. Duke has made some incredibly offensive statements. Just peruse his website. His life is full of anti-black, anti-semitic and neo-nazi experiences. Twisted thinking and hate speech populate his website. His name is synonymous with racism, bigotry and intolerance. Many of you who have been Trump’s loyal and long-term supporters (and even some of you who are new loyalists) forever post your disgust for Obama, call him “Hussein” to suggest he is a Muslim. You have shown repeated contempt for democrats, blacks, Muslims, gays and so many others. You call Muslims evil. You say Islam is a religion of hate. You call Hillary Clinton, a killer with blood on her hands. You scream at Hispanic kids who were being bussed into the country from oppression.
You call anybody with a different view, libtards. You love Donald Trump and will follow him to the end of the earth, ignore his impulsive rants, and his subtle nod towards violence during many of his rallies. You laugh when he calls the media crooked and liars. Is it any surprise that we equate Trump and you with the likes of David Duke?
You’ve been told that you can’t win the presidency unless you become inclusive. Expert pollsters have warned, especially after 2012 elections, that you must bring in more Hispanics and blacks and yes, other minorities. However, instead of electing candidates like Jeb Bush or John Kasich who could reach out to this population, you doubled-down when Trump doubled down. You attacked, when Trump attacked. You decided to change strategies and seek a different population of voters, to win. You fail to embrace minorities and the only pickings are more white voters. Many of those voters obviously respond to your angry messages that the outsiders are to blame for our economy, the violence, and whatever ails us all. They have lived on the extremes of the political landscape and you join them with your calls “Lock her Up”. These voters will follow and do follow David Duke and his right-wing haters and in some ways, we can’t distinguish them from you. them.
Instead of displaying a big tent of inclusion, the images coming from your convention was startling. Your convention was not made up of blacks, Hispanics and other people of color. It was plainly as white as a Klan sheet. Like it or not, the convention image and the Trump road to victory is making the party into the image of the right-wing David Dukes of the world.
And, you’re surprised that David Duke and his gang have found comfort in your party? And, you’re surprised that Duke now wants to become a US Senator-- to protect the rights of whites? Even Duke himself made the admission regarding Trump’s relevance to his own campaign and obviously vice versa. Even Duke knows the land is fertile as it has been cultivated and refined for him to walk.
From a recent ABC.com article:
“Yet Mr. Duke argued Friday that his long-held and contentious views had merged recently into the mainstream of American political behavior and thought. “I’m overjoyed to see Donald Trump and most Americans embrace most of the issues that I’ve championed for years,” said Mr. Duke….”
And David Duke just might be right—in many ways, his policies and beliefs might be the present or the future of the party. And now that the GOP has caved in to honor Trump with the most important position in the party, is it any surprise that we equate Trump and you with the Dukes of the world? And, again, you’re surprised that David Duke has found comfort in your party and now wants to become a US Senator to protect the rights of whites?
REPUBLICAN HOUSE ON FIRE
Sorry, the party of Lincoln is fast becoming the party of Trump and the Dukes of the world.
Yet, ever since Duke made his announcement, Republican politicians and party members and others have made efforts to disclaim him. All over the web, you read from many of those same staunch Trump supporters, “Duke doesn’t represent me, I hate David Duke, I would never vote for David Duke, Duke is not a republican”. Amazingly, they are angry that his name is even being raised in association with the party. Clearly, Duke’s presence in the US Senate race, as a Republican, is predictable. Instead of the Republican Party moving to the center, it’s been eaten up by those who see compromise as a weakness, who call moderates RINO’s, and who want radical change to revolutionize the party. You insist upon political purity yet, Duke is a real embarrassment to both you and the party. In reality, the cock has come home to roost.
Indeed, Duke is in it for the publicity and the money. And, I agree with them, he won’t win. But, when he says he is standing up for the White Race and it needs a voice, just check Trump supporter Facebook pages to see who agrees with Duke on this issue.
But, why will Duke not win? Not because some of you don’t quietly support many of his positions and comments, but because he is a mirror image of you, and his victory would bring down the party. It is no surprise that when the third most important Republican Congressman, Steve Scalise, said he was like David Duke - but without the baggage and he meant it. Many of the belief systems are the same, just more civilly articulated. And unquestionably, Scalise is and has been a loyal supporter of Israel and a friend of the Jewish people.
Sure, Scalise, Donald Trump and you--many of his arch-supporters, don’t have the same history peddling hate. None of you have ever donned Nazi uniforms. Nor joined the Klan. Nor sold hate books from legislative offices. Nor went to Iran and fomented against the Holocaust. Nor spent time in jail for tax evasion.
But, that really is not the issue at all. The real problem is, Trump and many of you are buying Duke’s world views, but won’t admit it. You share many of the same angers, feelings of hate - and yes, solutions.
You support Trump, repudiate Duke because you can’t look in the mirror. You fear the image looking back.
In so many respects, some of you are David Duke, just without the baggage.
THE US SENATE RACE
I take no pleasure seeing the Republican Party in anguish. My favorite candidates (and probably my likely vote) lost in the GOP primary. Hillary Clinton has the email sword of Damocles hovering over her head. The nation is at odds. The extremes are fighting each other and neither one of them will be able to govern such a fractured country.
The Senate race and the presidential race are speaking the same national issues. The major question that will be asked, the focus will be--exactly how do the Louisiana US Senate and Presidential candidates’ positions differ from one another on the issues.
Like it or not, David Duke, is a candidate.
Remove the Klan, neo-Nazi, Iran holocaust denier, his focus upon white rights -- many of us just don’t know how the world of David Duke differs from the world of Donald Trump and some of you? Many of us don’t know how the respective US Senate candidates’ views differ from the views of the GOP nominee?
Perhaps and hopefully, we will soon find out.
As election season approaches, all the candidates for president and US Senate will take positions on the same issues. We will know how, on the question of policies, Duke differs from Trump and how Trump differs from the individual US Senate candidates.
It is understandable why the Republicans and the supporters of Trump don’t want to talk about David Duke and his world. Indeed, they don’t want him resurrected, the same as very few of us do.
But, he is here. He thanks Donald Trump and his supporters and he claims he represents the party more than the likes of Roger Villere.
He will be defeated.
But, I am quite fearful, his policies, some of them mainstream in the GOP, just won’t be.
Please watch this video--You can click on link or the image above.