This Duke Is One More Hazard for the Republican Party

By George McEvoy
Palm Beach Post, Wednesday, January 6, 1999
� Copyright 1999 The Palm Beach Post

As if we don't have enough problems in the country already, David Duke is back.

The former Ku Klux Klan leader is seeking the Republican nomination for the House seat vacated by Robert Livingston of Louisiana.  Rep. Livingston had been selected to succeed Newt Gingrich as speaker of the House but resigned from Congress after admitting to a series of adulterous affairs.  David Duke is no stranger to politics.  He served one term in the Louisiana House of Representatives, then ran for the U.S. Senate in 1990 and lost to J. Bennett Johnston.  In 1991, he ran for governor of Louisiana and lost to Edwin Edwards.  And, in 1996, David Duke came in fourth in a field of nine candidates for the U.S. Senate seat won by Democrat Mary Landrieu.

So, last Saturday, according to The New York Times, he traveled to Arlington, Va., in an effort to raise some campaign money for his congressional campaign.

He spoke to a crowd of about 100, and the makeup of that gathering is interesting.   The organizer of the event, Mark Cotterill, is the former chairman of the national capital region chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a racist group that grew out of the White Citizens Council.  Mr. Cotterill said that, while the Council of Conservative Citizens did not sponsor this event, many in the audience were members of that organization.  They paid $10 each to hear David Duke and another racist rabble-rouser, Edward Fields, of Kennesaw, Ga.

The Council of Conservative Citizens is the same group that was addressed in the past by Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi, and by Rep. Bob Barr, the Georgia Republican who was one of the leaders of the move to impeach President Bill Clinton.  As Senate majority leader, Mr. Lott would play a powerful role in an impeachment trial.

After it was revealed that they had addressed the council, Sen. Lott and Rep. Barr attempted to disassociate themselves from the organization and denounced the racial views of its members.

Both the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League have accused the council of having ties to the Klan, the National Association for the Advancement of White People and other hate groups.

David Duke and Edward Fields blasted the Democratic Party in their speeches to the crowd in Arlington. Mr. Fields said, at one point, "This country has been gutted by Jews who vote Democrat."  Mr. Duke told the crowd he would be the first person in Congress "to stand up openly and proudly" to defend the rights of Christian whites.

"If we can get just one person in Congress," he said, "it will be like opening the floodgates.  It could change this country overnight."

But the former KKK grand dragon apparently spent most of his time hawking copies of his book at $35 a copy.  Also on sale at the gathering were publications put out by the National Alliance, a vicious anti-Jewish and anti-black group headed by William Pierce of West Virginia.

He is the person who wrote The Turner Diaries, an infamous book about a futuristic race war that has become like a bible to the hate groups.  Timothy McVeigh, convicted of blowing up the federal building in Oklahoma City and killing 168 people, had a copy of the book with him when he was arrested.

Although more moderate Republicans in Louisiana said they would try to defeat any candidacy by David Duke, he is not all that much of a long shot.  The district he would represent is said to be 85 percent white, and he claims that the voters there supported him in his past campaigns.

What a crew - David Duke, the Council of Conservative Citizens, Trent Lott, Bob Barr, William Pierce.  It makes one wonder whether Hillary Rodham Clinton was that far off the mark when she said her husband was the victim of a right-wing conspiracy.