June 21, 2013
David Duke, perhaps America's most well-known racist and anti-Semite, promotes anti-Semitic and white supremacist views as the leader of the white supremacist European American Unity and Rights Organization, as a writer of anti-Semitic tracts, and, in recent years, as an international figure who has promoted his anti-Jewish ideology in Europe and the Middle East, devoting particular attention to Russia and the Ukraine.
Duke has been active in the white supremacy movement for over 40 years. In the last two decades, he has tried to position himself as a new “respectable racist.” He pioneered the now common effort on the far right to camouflage racist ideas in hot-button issues like affirmative action and immigration, successfully appealing to race and class resentments. He w as instrumental in the Klan resurgence of the 1970s and was one of the first neo-Nazi and Klan leaders to stop the use of Nazi and Klan regalia and ritual, as well as other traditional displays of race hatred, and to cultivate media attention. Duke continues to write articles and books, to convene conferences, and to speak publicly for the purposes of demonizing Jews and other minorities.
Anti-Semite and white supremacist David Duke is very active, traveling the United States and abroad to spread his virulently anti-Semitic and racist worldview. He has convened and spoken at conferences with the purpose of demonizing Jews and minorities and denying the Holocaust. He has also visited Russia, the Ukraine, and other European countries to promot e his work.
In November 2008, just days after Barack Obama won the presidential election, Duke convened a conference in Memphis, Tennessee, for fellow white supremacists to discuss their movement’s plans for the future. In his keynote speech, Duke addressed the issue of Obama but reserved most of his venom for the Jews. Duke blamed Jewish control of the media and Hollywood for brainwashing white people into accepting Obama as their President. According to Duke, “The Jews were in charge of the election, we had no choice, but it is better for us now because we know who the enemy is.” He also expressed disbelief that Obama could win on his own merit but declared that he was “an affirmative action president.” In a post Duke made to his Web site before the conference took place, he explained that its purpose was “to issue a clarion call for a Movement across the United States, and indeed across the European-American world, to defend our heritage and freedom!”
Duke has been active in the white supremacy movement for over 40 years. In the last two decades, he has tried to position himself as a new “respectable racist.” He pioneered the now common effort on the far right to camouflage racist ideas in hot-button issues like affirmative action and immigration, successfully appealing to race and class resentments. He was instrumental in the Klan resurgence of the 1970s and was one of the first neo-Nazi and Klan leaders to stop the use of Nazi and Klan regalia and ritual, as well as other traditional displays of race hatred, and to cultivate media attention. Duke continues to write articles and books, to convene conferences, and to speak publicly for the purposes of demonizing Jews and other minorities.
Other attendees at the conference included Don Black, who runs Stormfront, the most popular white supremacist Internet forum, his son Derek, who has been active in local politics in Florida, James Edwards, the host of Political Cesspool, a white supremacist radio show, and Paul Fromm, a Canadian white supremacist.
Duke publishes the David Duke Report, a monthly newsletter that he fills with self-promotion and racist and anti-Semitic charges, including repeated references to the “Jewish-dominated media.” The August 2008 issue announced Duke’s alliance with Edward Fields, who joined EURO and merged his publication with Duke’s. Duke wrote that the merger will “make it easier for patriots to network in the efforts ahead to take our country back!” In an article Fields wrote announcing the alliance, he stated, “The man I believe who is accomplishing the most for our people and the man who has done more to oppose the Jewish extremists than any other person is Dr. David Duke. That realization is inescapable from almost every possible perspective.”
In April 2009, authorities in Prague arrested Duke, who was visiting the Czech Republic to deliver speeches promoting his racist and anti-Jewish ideology. The arrest came as a result of suspicions that Duke was denying the Holocaust, an offense that, if convicted, could have landed him in prison for up to three years. Neo-Nazis in the Czech Republic invited Duke to deliver lectures in Prague and Brno. However, Prague's Charles University cancelled Duke's scheduled appearance at the school, due to reports that neo-Nazis were planning to attend. According to a Czech police spokesperson, charges would not be brought against Duke, who was ordered to leave the country the following day.
In June 2008, Duke was the keynote speaker at the Euro-Rus Congress, a white supremacist conference that took place in Belgium. Racists and anti-Semites from the United States, Russia, and Europe convened for the meeting. Euro-Rus is an organization “aimed at propagating the idea of a European geopolitical axis,” to prevent the “downfall” of the white people. Duke spoke about how the survival of the white people “is directly at stake” and gave an overview of his racist and anti-Semitic ideology. A post to Duke’s Web site explained that, in his speeches at the conference, Duke “outlines some of the critical issues facing European mankind and gives us an understanding why Russia faces attacks from the Zionist-influenced press.”
In November 2007, Duke traveled to Spain to promote a Spanish-language edition of his anti -Semitic book Jewish Supremacism, originally published in 2002. During his tour, Duke repeated many of his standard themes such as Jewish government and media domination and social marginalization of the white race. He stated, in one speech in the Spanish city of Valladolid, that he was a better friend to the Spanish people than their own government. An appearance in Barcelona was cancelled by the organizers after the Attorney General of Spain threatened to issue an injunction out of concern for potential violence from protestors. Duke’s book tour coincided with the week commemorating the death of the late fascist Spanish dictator Francisco Franco.
In September 2007, Duke tried to exploit a racial controversy in Jena, Louisiana, that had gained national attention. Following a series of racially charged incidents, including the hanging of a noose from a tree at a high school, six black youths were initially charged with attempted murder for allegedly beating a white classmate. White supremacists and anti-Semites rallied in the town and Duke similarly exploited the issue to promote his views of black on white violence. In a September 2007 article posted to his Web site, he argued that “Whites are now deprived of human rights” and “are increasingly victims of Black racial violence and gang crimes.” One defendant pleaded guilty, and the other five individuals await trial.
David Duke has made a career out of spreading unabashed anti-Semitism and white supremacy. Concerning Jews and the State of Israel, Duke’s messages typically include conspiratorial depictions of Jewish power and Jewish hatred for non-Jews, a combination he refers to as "Jewish supremacism." In spite of repeated personal claims that he is not an anti-Semite and that not all Jews are bad, Duke has never hesitated to make sweeping generalizations alleging Jewish control of the media, banking, world affairs and governments.
Duke finds creative ways to exploit current events to spread these beliefs. For example, when Duke is not attacking Jews directly, he is spreading conspiracy theories about the Mossad, the Israeli government and unnamed “Zionists” and their role in various world events including the 9/11 attacks, the Iraq war, illegal immigration or any fluctuation in the U.S. economy. Since September 11, Duke has reiterated his belief that Israel and the Mossad perpetrated the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. He has insisted that the Mossad warned 4,000 Jews who worked at the World Trade Center to stay home on the day of the attacks, while allowing thousands of innocent Americans to die. Duke's "proof" further reveals his bigotry--he has said that since Jews control finance, more Israelis/Jews should have died in the World Trade Center. He has also stated that Israel carried out the attacks to turn attention away from its treatment of the Palestinians.
In addition to his anti-Semitic crusade, Duke consistently argues that white people are denied “human rights” in the United States, as employers, schools, and other social institutions favor minorities, particularly African-Americans. Duke has founded organizations and convened conferences with the purpose of defending and preserving the rights of his white “heritage.” Although Duke denies that he is a white supremacist and avoids the term in public speeches and writings, the policies and positions he advocates state clearly that white people are the only ones morally qualified to determine the rights that should apply to other ethnic groups.
For over forty years, anti-Semite and white supremacist David Duke has founded and led groups dedicated to promoting an anti-Semitic and white supremacist ideology. Through his leadership of these organizations, Duke has and continues to convene meetings, produce documents, and make posts to the Web that demonize Jews and other minorities. Most of these organizations were not viable organizations in their own right, but existed only to help provide Duke a platform for self-promotion and the spread of his racist and anti-Semitic viewpoints.
Duke currently leads the European American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), a Louisiana-based group created in 2001. Under the EURO name, Duke organizes conferences that bring together anti-Semites and racists from around the globe. Included in the group’s Web site are numerous anti-Semitic and racist articles and posts; two sections are entitled “white papers” and “jewish supremacism.” The Web site also provides links to the Web sites of several other anti-Semitic and racist entities, including the neo-Nazi National Alliance and the Holocaust denial publication The Barnes Review.
EURO was formerly called the National Organization for European American Rights (NOFEAR), which Duke founded in January 2000 and initially described as a "civil rights" organization fighting alleged "massive discrimination" faced by whites from the nation's growing population of minorities. In June 2001, threatened by a trademark lawsuit, Duke renamed his group the European-American Rights Organization.
Comparing NOFEAR to contemporary civil rights groups, Duke said that he formed the organization to address “European American” concerns. “Just as African Americans have the NAACP and Mexican Americans have La Raza,” Duke said, “European-Americans now have the National Organization for European American Rights, to actively defend their rights and heritage in the United States.”
According to Duke, “European Americans face a situation where we’re going to be outnumbered and outvoted in our own country.” He cited low birthrates, interracial marriages and immigration rates as key factors reducing the white population. The NOFEAR home page stated that “the civil rights of European Americans are being violated by affirmative action, forced integration and anti-European immigration policies.…We face cultural discrimination in the media and education.…An example is the media hate crime hysteria that highlights and publicizes any white crime against minorities.”
At the launching of NOFEAR, Duke told reporters at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. that the alleged ongoing destruction of white people was a “genocide.” In a January 2000 letter to the Louisiana-based Shreveport Times rebutting a critical editorial, Duke described European Americans as “internally displaced people” entitled to the same consideration as refugees.
Throughout his career as an anti-Semite and white supremacist, David Duke has cultivated relationships with a number of domestic and international extremists, whom he promotes and works alongside. Duke has also invited several of these individuals to speak at conferences that he organizes to stoke anti-Semitism and racism. Most notably, Duke has a long-standing relationship with Don Black, another former Klansman who has for over a decade operated Stormfront, the largest and most popular extremist Internet forum. Duke often appears on Stormfront’s Internet radio program with Black, and Duke has a weekly commentary on Stormfront radio’s “Town Hall” segment. Duke invites him to speak at conferences that Duke organizes under the auspices of his European American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO);
Black has, in turn, advertised Duke’s events on Stormfront. Duke has been a member of Stormfront since 2004 and has made over 1,600 posts to the forum. Black is considered a protégé of Duke, having taken over Duke’s leadership position in the Louisiana-based Knights of the Ku Klux Klan group when Duke left in 1980. Black is also married to Duke’s ex-wife.
In addition to appearing on Internet radio with Black, Duke gives interviews on television and Internet and AM radio shows hosted by virulent anti-Semites and white supremacists. He has appeared on the Political Cesspool, an AM and Internet radio show hosted by white supremacist James Edwards, who has interviewed a wide array of extremists on air. Additionally, Duke has given interviews to Oregon-based anti-Semite Ted Pike, who believes that Jews are engaged in a conspiracy for world-wide domination, specifically control of the American government, media, and financial institutions. Duke has been a guest on Current Issues, a Louisiana-based local cable television program hosted by anti- Semite Hesham Tillawi. The show has featured numerous guests espousing anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, and Holocaust denial conspiracy theories. On the show, Duke tried to convince his audience that the U.S. has more to fear from Jews and Israel than from Muslim extremists.
Duke has also made public an alliance he formed with Ed Fields, an anti-Semitic propagandist who has been active in the white supremacist movement since the late 1950s. In the August 2008 issue of Duke’s newsletter, the David Duke Report, he announced a merger with Fields’s publication and Fields’s new membership in EURO. Duke wrote that the merger will “make it easier for patriots to network in the efforts ahead to take our country back!” In an article Fields wrote announcing the alliance, he described Duke as “the man…who is accomplishing the most for our people and the man who has done more to oppose the Jewish extremists than any other person…”
Extremists from the United States and around the world have attended Duke’s EURO conferences. In addition to attending his events, several of these individuals have given speeches supportive of Duke’s ideology. The list of these affiliates and supporters includes the now-deceased John Tyndall, founder of the British National Party; neo-Nazi Kevin Alfred Strom; Don Black; virulent anti-Semite Willis Carto, who publishes the anti-Semitic newspaper American Free Press and The Barnes Review, a Holocaust denial publication; anti-Semitic attorney Edgar J. Steele; Holocaust denier Germar Rudolf; Nick Griffin and Simon Darby from the far-right British National Party; Karl Richter and Marcus Haverkamp from Germany's far-right National Democratic Party (NPD); Jean-Michel Girard of France's far-right National Front; and other similar figures.
David Duke has always been adept at modifying his tactics to further the white supremacist agenda. In addition to his work in the United States, he has traveled extensively throughout Eastern Europe and Russia to spread his message and gain support. Duke also takes advantage of technology to disseminate his ideology on the Internet and on Internet radio programs. He both organizes and attends conferences that attract extremists from the United States and Europe for the purposes of demonizing non-whites and Jews. In his books, articles, and newsletter, Duke reiterates his ideas and discusses the ways in which he works to spread them. Additionally, Duke has made repeated attempts to enter mainstream American politics—or attract mainstream attention—by running for various political offices.
Duke has spent a significant amount of time pursuing the spotlight and a new receptive audience in Eastern Europe. He has traveled throughout several countries making speeches to promote his ideology and works. Taking advantage of the social, political and economic instabilities that resulted from the demise of the Soviet Union, Duke has reinforced racist and anti-Semitic canards to a receptive audience. He has been able to portray the ills of Eastern Europe, past, present and even future as the fault of, primarily, the Jews.
Even though Duke spends much time attracting a following abroad, his judicious use of the Internet makes it appear that he is never far from his home audience. Technology allows Duke to post material and update the several Web sites he runs from anywhere in the world. Similarly, his interviews on domestic extremist radio shows and daily commentary appearing on Stormfront radio (an Internet radio program hosted on a popular extremist forum) keep him in front of a domestic audience.
Another way in which Duke seeks the spotlight in the United States is by organizing and attending racist and anti-Semitic conferences. Under the auspices of his European Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), Duke has organized meetings that bring together neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers, and white supremacists from around the globe to speak and strategize.
Duke has written articles, books, and other publications in which he spreads his views and attempts to engender hatred in others for minorities and Jews. In Jewish Supremacism: My Awakening on the Jewish Question, a book he wrote in 2002, Duke discussed the "Jewish threat," and offered misreadings of the Talmud and Bible in an attempt to portray contemporary Jews as haters of non-Jews and plotters of the downfall of non-Jewish culture. In December 2007, Duke re-released an “updated and expanded” version of the book and wrote on his Web site, “Specifically, Jewish Supremacism examines a long record of Jewish supremacist ideology and history that have had a powerful and damaging effect on both the Jewish and Gentile world.” His new preface was aimed at attacking the Chabad-Lubavitch movement as a manifestation of “Jewish supremacism.” Since its original publication, Duke has sought to have the book translated and reprinted in a variety of different languages.
Duke has capitalized on the media attention he receives for himself and his views as a political candidate. To that end, he has made repeated attempts to gain elective office at the state and national levels. In his writings, on the Web, and in interviews, Duke still draws on his time spent in the late 1980s as a member of the Louisiana State Legislature to call himself a Representative, attempting to gain a more legitimate public face.
Perhaps America's most well-known racist, David Duke was instrumental in the Klan resurgence of the 1970s. He pioneered the now common effort on the far right to camouflage racist ideas in hot-button issues like affirmative action and immigration, successfully appealing to race and class resentments. Similarly, he was one of the first neo-Nazi and Klan leaders to discontinue the use of Nazi and Klan regalia and ritual, as well as other traditional displays of race hatred, and to cultivate media attention.
Promoting anti-Semitism abroad
- December 2006: Duke traveled to Tehran, Iran, to address a Holocaust denial conference convened by the Iranian Foreign Ministry. The conference brought together a diverse group of anti-Semites, including white supremacists and neo-Nazis, radical anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian activists, and Islamic fundamentalists. Though the organizers insisted that their aim was only to “scientifically investigate” the history of World War II, the guests and speeches were universally devoted to either denying that Jews were the victims of genocide under the Nazis or to de-legitimizing the State of Israel. In his remarks at the Tehran conference, listed on the event program as "A Holocaust Enquiry," Duke repeated his anti-Semitic claims that “Zionists” control and manipulate governments, politics and media in the Western world. As proof that the U.S. State Department is "under thorough control of International Zionism" Duke cited the agency's statement that the Tehran conference was a "disgrace." He also maintained that repeated media references to the event as a "Holocaust denial conference" further demonstrate "Zionist control" of the media.
- November 2006: Duke embarked on a book promotion tour of Hungary in the cities of Budapest, Szeged, Miscolc and Gyor. During his tour, a television talk show host and one of Hungary’s leading newspapers challenged Duke publicly. He responded to these media outlets with his familiar rhetoric accusing them of being part of a Jewish-dominated media conspiracy. In addition to his usual themes, Duke also discussed the post-World War II Soviet regime that dominated Hungary, referring to it as a Judeo-Bolshevik and Jewish-Bolshevik government.
- October 2006: Duke addressed an audience at the MAUP, or the Interregional Academy of Personnel Management, a major private university system in Ukraine. He spoke on the topic of "Zionist influence in the United States" and opened his speech by declaring that "the powers of globalism and Zionism are reaching out and they are trying to control the lives, the values, the culture and the foreign policy of every nation on earth." MAUP awarded Duke a doctorate in history in September 2005 and he has taught at the university.
- March 2005: The Swedish "patriotic community" flew Duke to Sweden, according to his Web site, to promote his book Jewish Supremacism, which had been translated into Swedish. Duke gave speeches in Stockholm and in Helsingborg during his trip and hosted a daily Webcast featuring various Swedish “patriots.”
Promoting anti-Semitism in the U.S. and spending time in prison
- March 2006: Duke praised “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” a paper written by academics John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, which proved to be a conspiratorial anti-Semitic analysis invoking allegations of Jewish power and Jewish control. The paper claims that an “Israel lobby” controls American foreign policy and engineered the country’s military overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Duke claimed that the paper mirrored many of the assertions he had made over the years, and that he been “validated.” The media reported his plaudits for the paper and Duke himself made a rare appearance on mainstream television when he was interviewed that month by Joe Scarborough on the MSNBC program Scarborough Country.
- February 2006: Duke attended a Virginia conference convened by the white supremacist American Renaissance publication. About 300 white supremacists attended this biennial gathering promoting pseudo-intellectual racist theories and opposing non-white immigration. Although Duke was not an official speaker, he disrupted the event with anti-Semitic comments and became involved in a heated verbal exchange with a Jewish participant.
- May 2005: Duke’s most notable activity this year was his convening of the “2005 European American Conference” in New Orleans. Attended by over 300 white supremacists, the theme of the conference was the unification of Europeans and Americans in opposition to Jews, who were demonized as blood suckers and parasites who dominate media and government around the world. A significant number of politically affiliated European racists addressed the crowd, including Nick Griffin and Simon Darby from the far-right British National Party, Karl Richter and Marcus Haverkamp from Germany's far-right National Democratic Party (NPD), Vavra Suk and Lennart Berg of Sweden, Jean-Michel Girard of France's far-right National Front, and Deirdre Fields of South Africa.
- May 2004: Duke’s European American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO) sponsored a conference in Kenner, Louisiana, near New Orleans. Several significant neo-Nazi and racist figures attended the event, including speakers John Tyndall, founder of the British National Party; neo-Nazi Kevin Alfred Strom; Don Black, founder of Stormfront, the most popular extremist Internet forum; virulent anti-Semite Willis Carto, who publishes the anti-Semitic newspaper American Free Press and The Barnes Review, a Holocaust denial publication; anti-Semitic attorney Edgar J. Steele; and Holocaust denier Germar Rudolf. In his own remarks, Duke urged the audience of 250 not to characterize themselves as white supremacists and racists but as devoted to the "white civil rights cause." He also assailed President Bush and his administration as being "pawns of Israel and betrayers of the white race." At the event, Duke unveiled the so-called “New Orleans Protocol,” a three-point document for white "nationalists" advocating nonviolence, collegiality and "a high tone in our arguments." Signatories included Duke, Black, Carto, Strom, Tyndall, Canadian activist Paul Fromm and Ed Fields. The Protocol had no noticeable effect in any of those three areas.
- April 2003 through May 2004: Duke served time in a federal prison in Texas following a 2002 conviction for mail fraud and tax evasion. He had avoided prosecution earlier by spending much of 2001-2002 in Russia and the Ukraine promoting anti-Semitism while safely out of the reach of the U.S. government. Returning to the U.S. late in 2002, Duke entered into a plea-bargained thirteen-month prison sentence.
Prior to founding the European Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), which he currently leads, as well as its predecessor, the National Organization for European American Rights (NOFEAR), Duke established in 1980 the National Association for the Advancement of White People (NAAWP). He described the group as “primarily a white rights lobby organization, a racialist movement, mainly middle class people” and likened its message to that of the Ku Klux Klan. Indeed, NAAWP was housed in the former headquarters of the
Knights of the KKK, and Duke used the facilities to produce the NAAWP newsletter. From that office, he also produced the Louisiana edition of The White Patriot, a periodical of the Knights of the KKK.
NAAWP had such close ties to the KKK because, throughout the 1970s, Duke was a Klan leader. In 1974, he founded the Louisiana-based Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and became the group’s Imperial Wizard. Duke’s efforts to market himself as a new brand of Klansman – well-groomed, engaged, professional – were successful, and Duke boosted Klan membership. Duke urged an overhaul of the organization at the grass-roots level, encouraging his colleagues to “get out of the cow pasture and into hotel meeting rooms.” In media appearances and political venues, he skillfully exploited issues like illegal immigration, affirmative action and court-ordered busing, and sanitized Klan vocabulary, titling himself “national director” and referring to cross burnings as “illuminations.” In 1976, he organized the largest Klan rally the nation had witnessed since the 1960s in Walker, Louisiana, with an estimated attendance of 2,700. In addition, he built up local organizations in other states, including California, Florida and Texas. Although he publicly shunned violence, he was convicted in 1979 of inciting a riot in connection with a Klan rally in suburban New Orleans.
While a student at Louisiana State University, he founded the White Youth Alliance, a group affiliated with the neo-Nazi National Socialist White People’s Party in Arlington, Virginia. To protest a speech by attorney William Kunstler at Tulane University, Duke picketed wearing a Nazi brown shirt and a swastika armband and carried a placard that said “Kunstler is a Communist-Jew” and “Gas the Chicago 7” (referring to the well-known leftist activists). Duke now describes the event as a “folly of youth.”
In late 1998, Duke authored and self-published a 700-page autobiography, My Awakening. In this magnum opus, which he reprinted in 2000, Duke attempted to prove that blacks are genetically inferior to whites, while devoting almost 250 pages to anti-Jewish themes. Duke wrote that Jews “thoroughly dominate the news and entertainment media in almost every civilized nation; they control the international markets and stock exchanges; and no government can resist doing their bidding on any issue of importance,” and he noted that Jews and Gentiles are “in a state of ethnic war,” predicting that “the ultimate clash between these two diametrically opposed genotypes and cultures fast approaches with the new millenium.” In its unabashed racist animosity, the book seemed to represent a conscious decision by Duke to abandon his two-decade long attempts to obfuscate, repackage, intellectualize and dress up his opinions and ideas.
Duke also wrote two short pieces of very different sorts in the 1970s. In 1976, assuming the name “Dorothy Vanderbilt,” he authored Finders Keepers, a self-help sex manual for women. In 1973, as “Mohammad X,” Duke wrote African Atto, a street-fighting manual avowedly written to help the Klan identify "radical"
African-Americans, who would buy the book.
In December 1998, Duke ran for a Congressional seat in Louisiana’s First Congressional District. He positioned himself as an anti-government conservative who stood up for the little man against programs such as affirmative action, minority set-asides and welfare. His message seemed to hit a nerve among some frustrated and alienated white voters who were willing to overlook his past. He received one out of every five ballots cast in the district and placed third in the election.
In September 1996, Duke competed in Louisiana’s United States Senate “open” primary, placing fourth among 15 candidates, with 140,910 votes, and carrying several rural parishes. Five years earlier, in March 1991, Duke launched a campaign for the governorship of Louisiana. His bid attracted enormous publicity, and his long record of bigotry came under heightened scrutiny. In response, Duke claimed to have discarded his racist beliefs. His claim was belied, however, by a number of recent anti-Semitic statements and the resignation of his campaign coordinator, who claimed that Duke’s recent professions were a political ploy. Duke lost the election but won nearly 700,000 votes. In 1990, Duke ran against Democratic incumbent J. Bennett Johnston for a United States Senate seat. Although Duke lost the election, he gained 43.5% of the vote and a surprising 60% of the white vote.
Duke saw his only political victory in January 1989, when he was elected to a seat in the Louisiana State Legislature in Metairie. Despite the opposition to Duke expressed by national Republican leaders, including then-President George H.W. Bush, voters elected him by a narrow margin. Until the middle of that year, when the practice was publicly exposed, Duke sold extremist literature (including Hitler’s Mein Kampf and The Turner Diaries, a racist novel written by a deceased neo-Nazi leader) from his Metairie legislative office. Duke still draws on this position to call himself a Representative, attempting to gain a more legitimate public face.
A year before being elected to the Louisiana State Legislature, Duke ran for the Presidency, first as a Democrat, and then as a third-party candidate on the ticket of the Populist Party, founded four years earlier by Willis Carto to provide far-right radicals with a platform for political office. Duke appeared on the ballot in 11 states and received 47,047 votes – one-twentieth of one percent of those cast. In 1975, Duke emerged on the political scene with an unsuccessful bid for the Louisiana State Senate in 1975, receiving one-third of the votes cast.