David Duke, a former Grand Wizard in the Ku Klux Klan and one of America's most infamous white supremacists, announced on Friday that he was running for Senate in Louisiana. He did so in a video that showed him to be the same notorious racist he's always been.
The video starts out innocently enough. "I believe in equal rights for all, and respect for all Americans," Duke says. Hey, that's not so bad! Maybe he's thought it through, and decided hating black and Jewish people isn't the best move.
Duke, admittedly, has learned to better mask his views and dress them up for a mainstream audience. Maybe he picked up some tips from his buddy Donald Trump, who he shouts out in one excerpt of the video:
As Gawker pointed out last night, the man once said “Our clear goal must be the advancement of the white race.” He doesn't say anything that explicitly outrageous in this announcement, but it's clear the only thing that's changed is his rhetoric.
An excerpted passage:
However, what makes me different is I also demand respect for the rights and heritage of European-Americans. I passed the only bill in America forbidding affirmative action programs that racially discriminate against the best qualified. Thousands of special interests groups stand up for African-Americans, Mexican Americans, Jewish Americans, et cetera, et cetera. The fact is that European-Americans need at least one man in the United States Senate—one man in theCongress—who will defend their rights and heritage. We must stop the mass of immigrations and ethnic cleansing of the people whose forefathers created America.
Wee! That's a lot to unpack. First, it should be clear what he means by European-Americans. (He means white people.) Duke is declaring himself to be the candidate for white people who feel like they're not getting a fair shake in America.
We also get a little dose of Duke's classic anti-Semitism here. (Sample quote from the past: "They're trying to exterminate our race. I think, probably in a moral sense, the Jewish people have been a blight. I mean as a whole, not every Jew. And they probably deserve to go into the ashbin of history.") For some reason (he hates Jewish people), Duke separates Jewish-Americans from the European-Americans he seeks to protect. Though there are millions of European and Jewish Americans, Duke does not care to represent them.
And finally, Duke evokes the phrase "ethnic cleansing" to describe the effects of immigration on the United States. Hmm, you know who else pushed back against a perceived imposition of "ethnic cleansing?"
Anyway, this is, as many have pointed out, a main reason why Donald Trump is dangerous, even if he doesn't win: this white supremacist, anti-Semitic bullshit is now running freely, unburdened by Mr. Trump's normalization of hatred and discrimination.
Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.