NEW YORK (Jan. 24)
American Jewish leaders are concerned about an avowed white supremacist’s victory last weekend in a primary election for a seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives.
David Duke, former grand wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, won 3,995 votes in the special primary election Saturday, which was called to fill a vacancy in the statehouse. The seat represents the city of Metairie, a largely white suburb of New Orleans.
Duke received 3,995 votes, 33 percent of the tally in a seven-person race. He will face the first runner-up, John Treen, a longtime mainstream Republican, in a runoff election Feb. 18.
Last November, Duke, 38, was a candidate for U.S. president.
Duke has been for about eight years president of the National Association for the Advancement of White People.
According to a report prepared in 1987 by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, Duke has shied from publicly declaring his bigotry.
But the report said his group’s publication, NAAWP News, “reflects the true nature of his brand of racism,” including “numerous articles which attack blacks, Jews, Zionism and Israel, and exploit for propaganda purposes such controversial racial issues as busing, affirmative action and nondiscriminatory immigration laws.”
At Louisiana State University in 1970, Duke was listed as an organization leader by the National Socialist White People’s Party of Arlington, Va.
He then founded the White Youth Alliance and was photographed wearing a Nazi brown shirt and a swastika armband.
He began his own Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in 1975 in Louisiana, appointing himself grand wizard and sole decision-maker. He claimed in media interviews that the “new Klan” refrained from bigotry and violence.
MORE THAN A FORMER KLAN MEMBER
Jewish reaction to Duke’s electoral victory was one largely of concern, with a spokesman at the Jewish community federation in New Orleans registering a guarded reaction.
Ted Flaum, director of the Community Relations Committee of the Federation of Greater New Orleans, explained that the “organized Jewish community has not taken a stand on endorsing candidates.
“But there is a general concern of the image of someone who is a former Klan member to not only run but get the number of votes he did,” he said.
In New York, the ADL said it regards him as far more than a former Klan member.
David Lowe, associate director of the ADL’s fact-finding department, said, “Duke was the first guy who started this whole extremist thing of playing to the media and manipulating talk-show hosts.”
Lowe characterized Duke’s “statements that he’s put his extremist views behind him” as “pure deceit, but unfortunately, he’s managed to fool a lot of people in the process.”
Lowe described this as a tactic that is “obviously worrisome to us.”
The American Jewish Committee was quick to register “regret and dismay” at the election results.
“While there has indeed been significant progression in recent years in containing the scourge of racism in America, this distressing development reminds us that there is much more to be done,” said Ira Silverman, the organization’s executive vice president.