..The Michigan Daily - Friday, November 22, 1991 - Page 5
Voices rom a divided state
by Andrew Levy
,Aaly Staff Reporter F X i
METAIRIE, La. - "He speaks
on the issues that all Americans feel
need to be addressed," Metairie res-
ident Jimmy Benoit said last Friday
night of his candidate, David Duke.
Benoit was working at a Duke
rally in the American Legion hall of
this middle-class New Orleans sub-
urb where Duke made his campaign
headquarters. His "Duke for Gover-
or" T-shirt, plastered with Duke
bumper stickers, was tucked into a
ragged pair of jeans.
Whether or not all Americans
identified with Duke's platform,
most kept a keen eye on last Satur-
day's Louisiana gubernatorial con-
test that pitted Republican Duke
against three-term former governor
Democrat Edwin Edwards.
As outsiders, many Americans
*ouldn't believe that "it could hap-
pen here," and wondered how
"those crazy Louisianians" could
give Duke 401percent of the vote in
his- losing bid.,
The issue in this election was
David Duke and what he stands for
- whether it is welfare reform,
crime crackdown, or his recently-re-
nounced history as a Nazi and Ku
EIlux Klan leader. Because for many
voters neither candidate was appeal-
ing - Edwards has twice been in-
dicted and acquitted on racketeering
charges - the election became a
contest between Dukes and No
Opinions varied widely. There
were people who could be character-
ized as racist. There were people up-
set by Edwards' history of corrup-
*ion. There were those attracted by
Duke's populist message. And for
some the' mere mention of Duke's
name turned their stomachs. But ev-
erybody had a reason.
Reason. In this colorful state,
and in an election that seemed to
defy reason, people struggled to
find a justification to vote for - or
against - either of the candidates.
What was it that made them pull
We lever one way or the other?
"The whole thing sucks, basi-
cally," said Amy Budow, a student
at New Orleans' Tulane University
and an Edwards .supporter. "I think
they both suck, but I don't think
there should be any question who
people should vote for."
Duke supporter William Max-
ivell, a Metairie resident, was
equally upset with the options.
"I voted for him because I
thought ie was the lesser of two
evils," Maxwell said. "They're
both two people who shouldn't
have been there. Edwards because of
his past and Duke, not because he has
a racist background - I don't be-
lieve that - but because he's not
But the majority of Duke sup-
porters simply liked his platform.
Cynthia McClure was also at the
Duke rally on Friday night. She, like
many others, supported Duke's pop-
"Everything he has to say - less
government, equal rights for every-
ne, taxes are outrageous - it needs
to be taken care of," McClure said.
"Quite frankly, Duke represents the
working people. And I underline
"My major concern is the new
civil rights bill. In other words, I'm
Billy Majors of
Port Allen, La.,
*displays a sign
his feelings at
autographs at a
interested in everybody getting a
fair shake," McClure said.
Many of Duke's proposals have
struck a nerve among Louisiana's
white middle class, which has been
hit disproportionately by the
At the rally, Duke commented
on the Pledge of Allegiance.
"When we said that pledge, we
said 'and justice for all.' And we
will have justice for all in
Louisiana, including the taxpayers."
He called for "putting vile crimi-
nals in jail - not more government,
not more taxes. We believe in equal
rights for everybody."
Duke would have cut funding for
welfare and ended affirmative ac-
tion hiring practices in the state.
That flared the race issue because the
majority of Louisianians below the
poverty line are Black, and because
many perceive affirmative action as
favoring minorities for some jobs.
John Mathews is a Black Tulane
senior. He acknowledges Duke's ap-
Still, many Duke supporters in-
sisted race was not an issue.
Benoit qualified his support for
Duke's platform by denying any
"His message is less government
and equal rights for all. Not that
I'm a racist, but that's a major con-
cern for us," Benoit said. "I'm tired
of the working class being blamed
for everything in this nation, and be-
ing taxed for it."
The race issue was more than just
an aside for some.
Larry Adams, a Metairie resi-
dent, supported Duke's plans to re-
form the economy and to crack
down on crime, but race weighed
heavily in his decision.
"You have so many people
against him, but his message tells
about how things should be
changed," Adams said. "We need to
have less government control.
"His past does make everybody
wonder, but it's just the tip of an
Joseph Alfone, an 18-year-old
resident of Harahan, La., believes
that Duke would have filled a gap,
representing a specific segment of
"The white middle class isn't be-
ing represented today. Duke's not
worried about the NAACP, or B'nai
B'rith - he's put all of this out in
the open. Other people, they're
afraid to say the same things," Al-
peal to the working class, but made iceberg. Listen, there's Black people
it clear that Duke appeals only to and there's white people. There's
the white working class in the state. white trash, and there's niggers. I
"It scares me that this guy really mean, I grew up here, and I can't
has a chance. What he speaks about, even go down to the (French) Quar-
'1 am a below-radar Duke supporter. Below-
radar is somebody who told every national
poll and everybody that I supported
Edwards, and I went Duke when I pulled the
- Paul Dileo
New Orleans schoolteacher
and what he says to the voters, these
people can really identify with,"
Mathews said. "If he's elected,
you've got to know that he was
democratically elected. But he only
represents half of the people - not
ter at night.
"I'm not talking about hard-
working Black people. I'm talking
about people who stick out their
hands, and say, 'give me something.'
Like I owe them something,"
Paul Dileo is a white teacher at a
predominantly Black inner-city high
school in New Orleans. He was
shopping at a Metairie Winn Dixie
supermarket on election day.
"I am a below-radar Duke sup-
porter," Dileo said. "Below-radar is
somebody who told every national
poll and everybody that I supported
Edwards, and I went Duke when I
pulled the lever.
"It wasn't a protest vote
(against Edwards), I just liked being
able to pull a lever for some new
blood. In Louisiana, the more green-
behind-the-ears you are, the more
likely you are to open some cans of
worms. People are tired down here
of the same, old, crooked politics.
"When I found out that Duke
hadn't earned enough money to pay
Louisiana income tax the last five
years, I knew that he wasn't in this
for the wrong reasons. He is really
committed to Louisiana.
"By the way, I'm not a racist. If I
told the students in my school that
I supported Duke, about 90 percent
of them would burn my car -
which is quite racist, by the way. Of
the other 10 percent, 5 percent
would be apathetic, and the other 5
percent were probably the most in-
telligent. And a lot of them have al-
ready said that it's time for a
change," Dileo said.
Time for a chanw There is nn
Duke supporters felt that it was
time for a change - 32 percent of
those who said they voted for Duke
claimed that their vote was primar-
ily anti-Edwards, according to exit
polls conducted by The (New Or-
"I'm voting for Duke because of
the fact that I don't like Edwards.
He really screwed things up during
his term, and I think Duke will do a
better job," said Karen Leto, a
Adams agreed. "(Edwards) had
three chances to do good for the
state. It's time to change things," he
"No Dukes" was the cry. It
could be heard all over. People wore
pins, held up signs, and had bumper
"I voted for Edwards - just be-
cause of the fact that he was running
against Duke," said Tom Dee, a New
Orleans resident who works in
Metairie. "Duke just didn't seem
like a person to be putting in
Anti-Duke. Many Edwards vot-
ers talked about David Duke, and
made apologies for Edwin Edwards.
"Vote for the crook - it's impor-
tant," read a popular bumper
"I'm very nervous about it,"'Re-
becca Malek-Wiley, a librarian in
New Orleans, said the day before the
election. "I know a lot of people
who are planning to move out of the
state if he wins."
Kennon Crockett, a Tulane ju-
nior, is concerned that Duke's appeal
will spread nationally.
"The bottom line is that Duke
has gotten what he wanted. I think
his goal wasn't to be governor - he
wants to be president," Crockett
said. "He's gone from step to step
to step, and he's already gained a na-
tional voting base."
Jesse Conerly is business owner
in New Orleans. He voted for Ed-
wards because he saw Duke as a
threat to the economic health of
"We need a governor who's go-
ing to be able to work with all
races," Conerly said. "I mean, our
state is in bad shape right now. He
talks about welfare reform, and
that's underway right now. And
some of the changes he says he's go-
ing to make, he can't do that.
"This is just not the time for di-
vision," Conerly added.
"He speaks on the issues that all
Americans feel need to be ad-
dressed," Benoit says.
And indeed the amount of sup-.
port David Duke enjoys suggests
thee is eQ m nt in fact h 1i_
In the Daily during the past
week, there have been several
stories about two reported sexual
assaults on campus - one in
front of East
front of Hill Stephen
Rumors of a
too bad that
front-page stories to bring an
issue as important as sexual
assault to the forefront of campus
discussion; the reports this week
don't signal a new problem. We
should always be awarethat sex
crimes are occuring in our
But in many ways, I think we
aren't aware. When sexual assault
isn't grabbing big headlines, we
seem to put it in the back of our
minds. We react to incidents
instead of doing what we need to
do to prevent them, and that's
With the hope of reversing
that process, I went over to the
Sexual Assault Prevention and
Awareness Center the other day
and picked up some information
that included steps we can all take
to try to prevent sexual assaults
from occurring. Some of the more
notable suggestions include:
If you walk alone at night,
look asservtive, confident and
aware of your surroundings;
E If you think someone is
following you, turn around and
confront them - the surprise of a
hostile look will deter most
assailants. Remember, their
greatest advantage is the element
In attempted sexual as-
saults, approximately 50 percent
of the women escape if they yell,
and up to 85 percent escape if
they physically resist quickly and
Know vulnerable targets of
the assailant: eyes, nose, throat,
stomach, and kneecaps.
And if you don't feel comfort-
able walking around alone at
night, services like Safewalk,
Northwalk or the Nite Owl bus
are readily available.
Kata Issari, the counselor at
SAPAC, said it's important to
always do what you feel comfort-
"We don't have the right
answer for everybody," she said.
"You have to decide for yourself
what's best for you," she ex-
Issari added that no matter
how many precautions you take,
you can never be completely sure
that you won't be raped.
"The only way to really ensure
that rape stops is to stop the
rapists," she said. "If you are
assaulted, you have to remember
that it's not your fault."
SAPAC also gives some
suggestions about how to prevent
acquaintance rape, which is the
most prevalent kind of sexual
assault committed on this campus.
Among them are: .
Be aware of your feelings
and express them assertively;
Say no when you mean no,
say yes when you mean yes;
Be alert to what is going on
around you, and;
Trust your instincts: Be
aware of specific situations in
which you do not feel relaxed and
All of this strikes me as sound
advice, especially when I look at
how frequently sexual assault
takes place around here.
According to SAPAC, 16
sexual assaults have been reported
since January this year; twelve
were first degree assaults involv-
ing penetration and 14 of the
victims knew their attackers.
Issari said SAPAC encourages
sexual assault victims to talk
about what happened to them with
someone they can trust.
"It doesn't matter if it's us or
the police. It could be friends or
family," she said. "You should do
what's most comfortable."