Mandeville, Louisiana , United States
|| July 01, 1950
|Last Modifed||Pennsylvania Historian|
Jan 13, 2019 08:55pm
Caucasian - Single - Imprisoned - Reprimanded - Christian - Protestant - Straight -
|Info||David Duke is a right-wing White nationalist politician in the United States. He is also a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, Louisiana State Representative, and ran unsuccessfully for various offices including the Louisiana Senate, Governor of Louisiana, and twice for President of the United States. |
David Duke was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma but his family moved at an early age and after a short period of living in the Netherlands, settled in Louisiana. He became interested in the white nationalist movement at an early age and in 1967 at the age of 17 joined the Ku Klux Klan. Duke went on to study at Louisiana State University and in 1970 formed a nationalist campus group known as the White Youth Alliance. He was involved in the campus ROTC and a year later he went to Laos and taught English to Laotian military officers. Duke returned to LSU and graduated in 1974. He was well known on campus for wearing a Nazi uniform and swastika paraphernalia, and holding parties on the anniversary of the birth of Adolf Hitler. The same year as his graduation he was elected to Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He became well known for trying to modernize the Klan and turn it into a modern nationalist political force. Some examples are changing the title of Grand Wizard to National Director and wearing a suit as opposed to the traditional white robe. In 1978 he left the Klan and two years later formed the National Association for the Advancement of White People. In 1988 he ran in the Democratic Party primary for candidate of the President of the United States. After losing he ran in 1989 and was elected to the Louisiana State Legislature.
A year later Duke ran for Governor as a Republican Party candidate, although never getting any official endorsement from that party. In the open primary, Duke was second to former governor Edwin Edwards in votes, thus he faced Edwards in a run-off. The election got national attention. While Duke had a hard-core constituency of devoted admirers, many more in Louisiana voted for him as a "protest vote" to register dissatisfaction with Louisiana's mainstream politicians. Some dismissed the reports of Duke having ties to Nazi and KKK organizations as simple mud-slinging. In the time from placing in the primary and the run-off election Duke had his greatest national fame. White power and far-right organizations from around the country contributed to his campaign fund. At the same time, Duke tried to distance himself from his more extreme views in public appearances while never officially repudiating them. When ever reporters asked about his Nazi and KKK ties, Duke gave an angry non-answer denouncing the reporters for trying to dig up dirt from the past. Meanwhile, a large anti-Duke coalition gave support to Edwards, who many were at best lukewarm about except in comparison to Duke. Edwards was largely perceived as corrupt, but the possibility of Duke as governor was widely seen as worse. A popular bumper-sticker read "Vote for the Crook. It's Important". Ads and documentaries aired on television showing footage of Duke from earlier years at Klan rallies and acting as a neo-Nazi spokesman. When a reporter asked Edwards what he needed to do to triumph over Duke, Edwards replied with a smile, "Stay alive". Duke lost the election by a wide margin, but claimed "I won my constituency. I won 55% of the white vote."
In 1998 he published his autobiography My Awakening: A Path to Racial Understanding. In 2002, Duke traveled to eastern Europe to promote his book and received an honorary Doctorate from the University of Kiev in Ukraine. While he was away Duke was charged with tax evasion from his 1998 income taxes. For a time he remained overseas to avoid prosecution, but later arranged to come back to the United States and in 2002 pleaded guilty in a plea bargain. It was discovered that he had funneled money donated to various political campaigns and white power organizations into his own pocket. Duke was sentenced to 15 months in prison. Following his release in May of 2004, he claimed publicly that his decision to take the plea bargain was motivated by the bias that he perceived in the Federal Court system instead of his guilt.
In 2004 David Duke published his latest book: Jewish Supremacism: My Awakening on the Jewish Question. While the book's title leads one to believe it is a continuation of his first autobiographical work, the book instead proports to be a collection of historical documents that detail religious beliefs of Jewish Supremacism since antiquity. The book is dedicated to Dr. Israel Shahak, an Israeli professor who was an ardent critic of supremacist religious teachings in modern Jewish culture. Duke denies the book is motivated by anti-semitism.
Two dates have been found for his birthday: July 1, 1950 and July 13, 1950.
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