Seeing as how, some of the younger members of the family aren’t old enough to remember David Duke, it seems that it is an opportunity to introduce them to some history. I do not seek to give a comprehensive history; many books can be found on this man. My intention is to give a history lesson for the ADD Generation. Therefore, this will be first of a three-part refresher course on David Duke.
In the last week, the name David Duke has resurfaced again. His profile seems to match that of the organization he ran–The Ku Klux Klan. He undergoes periods of irrelevance and obscurity, and then…resurfaces like a boil on the body politic.
The man, who would become better known as America’s most foremost racist, was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His family eventually settled in New Orleans.
While attending Kennedy High School (Considering the pre-Katrina racial makeup of Kennedy, one might find that hard to believe) he met Dr. William Pierce. This was a very influential meeting, as Pierce inspired Duke to go beyond simply espousing white supremacist views; he taught him how to organize like-minded individuals in that aim. But, he would not be the first person that Pierce would have a dark influence on.
Pierce was the leader of the National Alliance, however; he was much more infamous for authoring The Turner Diaries. Originally written under a pseudonym, the novel is believed to have inspired Robert Matthews and his group, The Order. Matthews was killed in a shootout with police while other members of the group were arrested and convicted of the murder of Denver talk show host Alan Berg and numerous bank robberies.
The book also inspired Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols to commit what was until the 9/11 attacks, the greatest mass murder in U.S History. 168 people were killed in the Oklahoma City bombing.
But before all of that, there was David Duke.
According to Tyler Bridges (1995), Duke was highly influenced in his ideology by his ultraconservative father and was inspired by the activities of the local White Citizen’s Council headed by George Singelmann. What is still a mystery is the origin for his hatred of Jews (page 9). What is clear is that he fully embraced Nazism, and if that had a rule book, rule #1 would surely say, “Must blame the Jews for everything… maybe even for the original Sin.”
Duke, joined the Ku Klux Klan in 1967, and over the next decade, he aimed to take the Klan “out of the cow pastures and into hotel meeting rooms.” Duke was originally titled, Grand Wizard (later retitled as Executive Director), but he was rarely seen wearing the familiar hood and robe. I would argue that he was deeply influenced by Pierce, who came from the halls of academia. His was an attempt to appeal to reasonable folks who would never consider openly joining the Klan. Essentially, he wanted to put an “intellectual” spin on plain old racism.
Duke was an articulate speaker and a somewhat of a telegenic figure. This helped him to be a frequent guest on talk shows throughout the nation. Duke was even coined, the “Robert Redford of the Klan” by some. That moniker would seem to strengthen my argument that the media and Duke used each other with maximum effect. Eventually, Duke fell out of favor with his fellow haters and was expelled (He claims that he left) from the Klan in 1979. He immediately began a new group called the National Association for the Advancement of White People (NAAWP). Now, there’s an example of originality, right? Even with all of these changes, one thing remained constant, his hatred of Jews and white supremacist views disguised as “racial realism.”
As early as 1975, Duke had run for several offices, including President. Meanwhile, he was running a not so thriving mail order business. One of the books, a self-help sex manual, was authored by him under a female pseudonym. Though he denied it and claimed he only “consulted” his college friend and had nothing to do with the sex parts.
Author’s Note: “Oh, ok.”
After toiling away with his mail order business, and with several failed campaigns under his belt, events began to take shape that would make Duke into a conservative rock star, and leave controversy and embarrassment in their wake. In 1987, Duke got embroiled in the opposition to protest marches in Forsythe County in Georgia led by civil rights leader Hosea Williams. Duke underwent plastic surgery to soften his looks, and with his renewed national profile, he made another run for the Louisiana legislature.
(End of Part I)
Next, the meteoric rise, and crushing fall of David Duke.
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