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September 21, 1990 - Image 163

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-09-21

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

him at all hours at home for spiritual
support.
"Everywhere I go I hear comments
about how worried the Jewish communi-
ty is about Duke," says Jane
Buchsbaum, who emphasized that she
was speaking out not in her capacity as
executive director of the New Orleans
Jewish Federation but as treasurer of the
Louisiana Coalition Against Racism and
Nazism, a group opposing Mr. Duke's
campaign.
"People ask, 'What are we doing? What
will happen? Is he going to win?' "
She hesitates, then continues, "Well,
you have to be very careful when you're
dealing with Duke. The run-of-the-mill
Louisiana voter doesn't care about his old
Nazi stuff. It's much easier to fight him
on the gut issues of racism and Nazism
and, unfortunately, that's not what ap-
peals to voters. The last thing we want is
a backlash."
Rep. Duke says he's not surprised, giv-
en his past, that Jews would be chary of
him, but he only asks for a chance. He be-
lieves Jews agree with him on the issues
that have become the battle cries of his
campaign: that affirmative action pro-
grams are a great ill in society; that
America's prestige is suffering in the
world; and that the welfare underclass
threatens to sink the nation.
"I think Jews generally are well-
qualified," he says. "They work hard,
they're intelligent and educated, and
those quotas and affirmative action pro-
grams fall very much on their shoulders."
But there are those who feel his
reaching out to the Jewish community is
an example of the highest level of politi-
cal chutzpah. In the past Rep. Duke has
said, among many other things, that the
Holocaust never occurred. He's had for-
mer neo-Nazis in his campaigns, like
Ralph Forbes who managed the Duke for
President campaign two years ago, and
has sold Nazi publications out of the of-
fice of his National Association for the
Advancement of White People (NAAWP)
in Metairie, which doubles as his House
of Representatives office.
The NAAWP News, until recently, was
a fount of anti-Jewish diatribes, such as:
"One Klan family could easily overpower
a fat cat Jew and lazy nigger trash
families." A conference of Klansmen and
neo-Nazis organized by Mr. Duke in 1976
called for the legalization of The Third
Reich.
David Duke can be found on the second
floor of his combination campaign head-
quarters/home in Metairie, a virtually all-

white suburb 10 miles west of New
Orleans. The headquarters on the first
floor is a flurry of activity as volunteers
send out blue-and-white Duke stickers
and paraphernalia and toil away at com-
puters with mailing lists of up to 80,000
persons.
In person, Mr. Duke is a pale, athletic-
looking six footer who talks softly but
looks the questioner directly in the eye
and always seems to anticipate the next
question.
Why did he become a Nazi sympathiz-
er? "I became a very, very frustrated
young man," he answers. "My dad was in
Vietnam at the time and I came to believe
that the American fighting man was not
allowed to win that war. I was looking for
answers, was angry. I was so intensively
anti-Communist that I lost sight of how
to oppose Communists and it was not the
right thing to do. I was never a member
of any Nazi party but I did associate with
people like that. I spoke out on some of
those issues, I picketed (in a Nazi uniform
at Tulane University) William Kuntsler
(the Jewish civil rights lawyer and peace

Rep. Duke describes
himself as "a rascal" in
those early years, which
led to a decadeā€¢long
odyssey in far-far-right
wing politics.

activist), and I shouldn't have done all
that and I'm regretful."
Rep. Duke describes himself as "a ras-
cal" in those early years, which led to a
decade-long odyssey in far-far-right wing
politics. As for almost every other charge
against him, Rep. Duke responds that his
views have been misconstrued or misin-
terpreted by the media and his political
opponents.
Did he, for instance, say that the Uni-
ted States should be divided up among

In 1987, David Duke
announced his
candidacy for the
Democratic
presidential
nomination in front
of Georgia's state
capitol. He said the
contest would be
between himself
and Jesse Jackson.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

163

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