Grand Wizard David Duke and Today’s GOP — The Similarities are Startling

davidduke1From the 1970’s to the 1990’s, David Duke, a prominent member of the Ku Klux Klan and barely unsuccessful Southern politician who ran for governor, US senator, and president in the early 90s, made many attempts to demystify and destigmatize uber-racism. He changed the name of the Grand Wizard position he held to “National Director,” promoted “White Rights,” and formed the NAAWP (three guesses what that stands for?). He was seeking to gain acceptance for his poison – an effort to push back against gains People of Color made from the mid-60s.

In his heyday, the official big-wigs in the Republican Party distanced themselves as far as possible from Duke. If asked, the GOP would still disavow any connections with such overtly racist White Supremacy and Separatist groups as the Klan, but – at least in regards to race – the current GOP is on board with the policies and even the rhetoric of the old Grand Wizard. Let’s look at a few issues.

– Black crime:

Though Republicans will never say out loud that Black crime is a result of the Black man “reverting back to his genotype,” their refusal to deal with any of the economic, judicial, and racial realities that disproportionately and unjustly land Black men in prison – and their barely masked celebrations in the shameful death of black youth by self-appointed vigilantes – leads one to believe that the entire party seems to believe that this disproportion is natural and genetic. Like David Duke, the GOP seems to indicate that Black people are dangerous and genetically predisposed toward violence. Both ignore White crime and violence, including massive-scale war, illegal foreclosures, redlining, unfair hiring practices, and grand-scale disinvestment in African American communities (eg, DetroitWest and South Side Chicago). Also, like Duke, they seem to deny that a White man would ever rape females.

– Immigration:

Who said this, Duke or Republican Steve King?

We are fighting for the preservation of our heritage, freedom and way of life in the United States and much of the Western World. Ultimately, we are working to secure the most important civil right of all, the right to preserve our kind of life. Massive immigration and low European American birthrates coupled with integration and racial intermarriage threatens the continued existence of our very genotype. We assert that we, as do all expressions of life on this planet, have the right to live and to have our children and our children’s children reflect both genetically and culturally our heritage.

If not for the mention of “reflect… genetically,” that speech could have been given by King (the guy who believes that scholastic DREAMers are just a front for drug mules with cantaloupe-shaped calves), as racial essentialists like King and Duke believe that all Latin immigrants are just seething natural-born criminals intent on destruction. King may believe that non-White Americans are not as intelligent or good as Euro-‘Murikans, but he’d never say it – he’s too good of a politician to be fully outed as an unrepentant racist.

For this reason, it is important to look at the conservative extremist not as an outlying phenomenon, but to notice the intersection of what he says with accepted trends and policies. Speeches and rhetoric like Duke’s are given at Republican and Tea Party anti-immigrant rallies throughout the land and by prominent anti-immigrant politicians and pundits speaking on behalf of Republican conservatism, like Pat BuchananLou Dobbs, Sarah Palin and Louie Gohmert. Quotes and policies by such public figures belie the fact that anti-immigrant status is barely-masked racism.

– Voting Rights:

Republicans throughout the land, before and after the practical revocation of the Voting Rights Act, have been content with winning their constituency of angry White people by catering to their racial standards. It’s a strategy they’ve employed off and on for decades. Republicans know that if the vote had been restricted to White males they would occupy the White House right now, and with the ways that districts are gerrymandered throughout red states, all they need to do is win the White vote in order to maintain control of the House. Voting restrictions and disenchantment is another means of depoliticization of Black and Brown people. It is the surest way for an entire party built on and energized by White and Male Supremacy to win the day. Any way that Black votes are discouraged is good to the GOP. State Republicans ensure this through imprisoning disproportionate amounts of Black males and revoking their rights to vote even after they have served their time (even for life), switching local voter laws to favor more wealthy and white populations, and falsely challenging voter registration movements and organizations that register large groups of disenfranchised urban populations (such as ACORN).

– Affirmative Action:

Ready for another round? Was this King or Duke? “There’s been legislation that’s been brought through this House [of Representatives] that sets aside benefits for women and minorities. The only people that it excludes are white men…Pretty soon, white men are going to notice they are the ones being excluded.” That, friends, was Rep .King. It may as well have been said by Duke – or by several of the conservative SCOTUS justices.

– Welfare “Cheats”:

The entire GOP platform this year seems preoccupied with the idea that every poor person on government assistance is cheating the system. This in turn is fueled by Reagan’s racist myth of the Welfare Queen. Duke himself took some credit for helping to bring about “welfare reform” – which began the clearing of the roles in the 90s. But at least in the Clinton/Gingrich compromise, there was some agreed-upon transition from welfare-to-work with concessions made for working mothers to get affordable day care, etc. Those concessions are being eroded as quickly as the amount of cash and food relief that poor people have left to fight over.

In the nineties, then-current President George H. W. Bush tried to distance himself far and good from David Duke’s history and stench:

When someone has a long record, an ugly record of racism and of bigotry, that record simply cannot be erased by the glib rhetoric of a political campaign. So I believe David Duke is an insincere charlatan. I believe he’s attempting to hoodwink the voters of Louisiana, I believe he should be rejected for what he is and what he stands for.

Of course, in 1991, the Republican party was trying to distance itself from an openly anti-Semitic, racist Grand Wizard.

However, the ugly history now does not just belong to Duke, but to Bush’s entire party.



Thanks in no small part to GHWB’s own tricks.

Remember the Willie Horton ads? They could have been run by the NAAWP.

However, that was just a warm-up. When the current GOP tries to distance itself from Steve King’s cantaloupe calves comments but votes along his lines, pay attention. He’s just saying what they’re thinking.

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When he’s not riding both his city’s public transit system and evil mayor, Jasdye teaches at a community college and writes about the intersection of equality and faith - with an occasional focus on Chicago - at the Left Cheek blog and on the Left Cheek: the Blog Facebook page. Check out more from Jasdye in his archives as well!


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