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June 15, 1990 - Image 62

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-06-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Ex-Klansman Attempting
To Spread Word On Duke

STEVE FELDMAN

Special to The Jewish News

I

n the early 1970s, a
smooth-talking, well-
dressed young man ap-
peared on a late-night, na-
tionally broadcast talk show
hosted by TV personality
Tom Snyder, bringing a
message of hate and
divisiveness.
Watching that evening
was a young Kensington
resident named Tom Mar-
tinez. Along with many
others, he was impressed by
the man and his message.
The man on TV was David
Duke, at the time the leader
of the Ku Klux Klan. Mar-
tinez was so impressed that
he sent for information
about the Klan and, shortly
thereafter, joined the group.
After a period in the hate
movement, Martinez has
changed his political think-
ing and his ways. He recent-
ly toured the state of Loui-
siana to warn the people
there not to be taken in by
that same well-spoken, good-
looking man, now a state
legislator running for a seat
in the U.S. Senate.
Duke is "handsome, very
articulate — like he just
came out of Hollywood,"
Martinez said after return-
ing from his visit to Loui-
siana, conducted under the
auspices of a group called
the Louisiana Coalition.
The Coalition, formerly
the Louisiana Coalition
Against Racism and Nazism,
is out to prevent Duke from
capturing the race for the
U.S. Senate, which will be
held in October.
A Jewish woman active
with the Coalition, who ask-
ed not to be identified, said
that the group's goal has
been "to get media exposure
so that we can reach the un-
converted — the Duke sup-
porters and those on the
fence."
Rev. James Stovall,
chairman of the Coalition,
said Martinez's talks
throughout the state rein-
forced the group's effort in
"telling truthful informa-
tion about Duke that he does
not tell about himself."
Martinez, Stovall said,
talked about Duke as a
former colleague. Duke's in-
volvement in the Klan and
in the neo-Nazi movement

Steve Feldman writes for the
Philadelphia Jewish Expo-
nent.

"shows the history of this
man," and is "not the kind of
preparation one should have
to be in the U.S. Senate."
Stovall said he is concern-
ed that, should Duke be
elected, he might become
"another Joe McCarthy,"
the Wisconsin senator who
in the 1950s accused people
in the political and enter-
tainment fields of being
communists on the basis of
their memberships or
associations.
Stovall, a Methodist min-
ister in the Louisiana capital
of Baton Rouge, said the Co-
alition "began as an infor-
mal group about five or six
months ago. In the last two
months, we have been for-

Martinez
expressed concern
over what he sees
as a failure among
Jews and blacks to
aggressively
combat Duke.

mally organized as a polit-
ical action committee."
He said the group consists
of a "good cross-section" of
people from various
backgrounds and economic
levels.
The anonymous Jewish ac-
tivist told the Philadelphia
Jewish Exponent that cur-
rently, "Duke is running a
very strong second" in his
bid for the Senate. Duke is
running as a Republican,
but in Louisiana, there is no
primary.
In the election, a candidate
with 50 percent of the vote or
more is declared the winner.
If no candidate gets 50 per-
cent, the top two contenders
— regardless of party — par-
ticipate in a runoff election.
Assessing the political
climate in Louisiana, Mar-
tinez said, "It's bad down
there. The average person in
Louisiana believes it's okay
to be a member of the Klan."
Martinez suggested that
"the only way to defeat
Duke is to bring out his
Nazism." He said it is a
common sight, especially in
rural areas, to see posters for
Duke on people's lawns, or
stickers on cars and trucks.
"Why don't they just add
another sign: 'I am a bigot'?"
Martinez asked.
Martinez also questioned
why Duke's group, the Na-
tional Association for the
Advancement of White Peo-

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