RACE

Former KKK Leader David Duke Is Running For Congress (Again)

And his campaign platform sounds a lot like Donald Trump's

RACE
David Duke — (REUTERS)
Jul 22, 2016 at 2:55 PM ET

David Duke, the former leader of the Ku Klux Klan and longtime poster-boy for racism in America, announced on Friday that he’s running for the United States Senate in a YouTube video featuring language that sounded strikingly similar to many of Donald Trump’s blustery speeches. The oft-failed political candidate even lauded the GOP nominee for “embrac[ing] most of the issues I’ve championed for years.”

“I believe in equal rights for all and respect for all Americans,” Duke said in a video posted on his website on Friday. “However, what makes me different is I also demand respect for the rights and the heritage of European Americans.”

This is Duke’s fourth bid for a seat in Congress in what has been a long, failed, and currently stagnant political career that dates back to 1975, when he ran as a Democratic candidate for the Louisiana State Senate. In 1988, Duke launched a failed run for president, participating in the Democratic primaries. After losing the primary, Duke changed his party affiliation to Republican and was elected to the Louisiana State House where he served one term.

Despite being “overjoyed to see Donald Trump and most Americans embrace” his brand of white nationalist politics, Duke’s critics see his latest run for Congress to be little more than a political stunt piggybacking off of a political climate that has been pushed further to the extreme right thanks in part to Trump’s racially charged campaign rhetoric.

“David Duke never misses an opportunity to draw attention to himself,” Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, told Vocativ. “Like many other extremists, he is trying to exploit the current political climate to highlight his classic racist and anti-Semitic views. While he is one of the most well know haters in the country, for those that may not know him, it won’t take much for them to figure out what he is all about.”

Duke’s notoriety dates back to the 1970s, when he founded the Louisiana Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and became the group’s “Imperial Wizard.” He went on to launch the National Association for the Advancement of White People, which he described as “primarily a white rights lobby organization, a racialist movement, mainly middle class people,” according to the ADL. He went on to write several books, including 2002’s “Jewish Supremacism: My Awakening to the Jewish Questions.”

Following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 27 people—many of whom were children—were murdered by a deranged gunman, Duke blamed the shooting on “Zionist media.”

“Lead bul­lets are not mur­der­ers. The real mur­der­ers are not the bul­lets, but the Bul­lies of the Zio Media,” Duke posted on his website following the shooting. “Guns did not cre­ate the hor­ror in that lit­tle school in Sandy Hook, Con­necti­cut. The Zio mas­ters of the media did. They have devoured the real Amer­ica. The mas­ters of the media con­tinue to take us down the path of human depravity.”

In his announcement, Duke discusses many of the same themes that have been used in Trump’s campaign like his opposition to immigration and globalization, both of which are agendas of the white nationalist movement. He even claimed in the YouTube announcement he coined the term “America first,” a staple of Trump’s often fiery campaign rhetoric.

“That will be the foundation of every decision that I will make,” Trump said during a campaign speech in April. “America First will be the major and overriding theme of my administration.”

In February, Duke endorsed Trump in the GOP presidential primary—an endorsement Trump initially declined to disavow despite the former Klansman’s racist past. Asked about the endorsement, Trump told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So I don’t know. I don’t know — did he endorse me, or what’s going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists.”

A few days later, after taking the political hits for not immediately disavowing the endorsement of a former leader of one of the most historically racist and hateful groups in America, Trump said he did not accept Duke’s endorsement, and blamed his initial failure to do so on a “bad earpiece.”