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Bigots on the Ballot (June 2018)

Undoubtedly the name of David Duke sparks vivid and alarming images for anyone who believes in equality, the dignity of all people regardless of the color of their skin or their religious beliefs and practices. As a reminder, David Duke is an American white supremacist and white nationalist politician, anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist, Holocaust denier, convicted felon, and former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

Nothing particularly unusual here. We know there have always been hate mongers in our midst. What was more disconcerting is that Duke ran for numerous offices on the state and national levels. He was successful only once and served as a Louisiana State Representative for three years from 1989-1992. All of his other attempts failed. Duke stood out as a candidate because at the time he was the only known white supremacist/KKK leader/anti-Semite in or trying to achieve elected office.

 

Fast forward to 2018. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) there are eight candidates throughout the country with white supremacist ties. These are record numbers, higher than ever before. In their campaigns they argue for racial segregation and assert that the Holocaust didn’t happen. Most of these candidates are running as

Republicans, although the Republican National Committee has distanced itself from them and does not support them.

 

As the title of a recent article in The Nation read, “Election 2018 is Off to the Racists.” A few examples should suffice:

 

• Arthur Jones is running for a congressional seat in the Chicago area. In March he ran unopposed in the primary and 20,000 people voted for him. He has ties to the American Nazi Party. Among other things he has said he would try to make the neighborhoods in his district 90% white. 20,000 people, not in the boonies or Idaho or the deep south, but in Chicago.

 

• Patrick Little, a virulent and open anti-Semite, was challenging Diane Feinstein for her Senate seat in California. He spouts every abhorrent anti-Semitic and anti-Israel diatribe you can imagine. He calls for a government “free of Jews.” The good news is that he garnered a mere 1.2% in the primary and will not even be on the ballot.

 

• Also in California, John Fitzgerald, an anti-Semitic Republican running in the state’s 11th District northeast of Oakland, has advanced to the general election. Fitzgerald’s campaign website includes false claims that 9% of U.S. government officials are dual citizens of Israel and that Jews played a “prominent role” in the African slave trade, and celebrates a “courageous” elderly German woman who was sentenced to two years in prison for denying the Holocaust.

 

• Lest you think that we in liberal Massachusetts are immune, I give you Scott Lively, who last month got enough votes at the Republican state convention to be on the ballot and challenge Governor Baker in the September primary. Lively is overtly anti-LGBT and is the author of a book claiming that the Holocaust was perpetrated by gay Nazis. He is also the founder of an anti-gay group, “Abiding Truth Ministries,” which the SPLC categorizes as a hate group. Fortunately Baker is the most popular governor in the country according to numerous polls, and he gained 70% support at the convention. But the fact that Lively will even be on the primary ballot is a disgrace and something to be concerned about.

 

Why now? There is virtual unanimity among observers of this trend that President Trump has energized people like this. His language of hatred and disdain toward immigrants, minorities, and Muslims resonates with them and has emboldened them to come out of the woodwork and run for office. After all, you remember how at the tragic events in Charlottesville last August there were “good people on both sides,” according to the President?

 

Polls now indicate that 9% of Americans think that white nationalist views are acceptable. All good people must do all in their power to be aware of these dangerous candidates, speak out against them wherever possible, and assert their values in the voting booths. It is bad enough that their rhetoric poisons the realm of public discourse; we cannot give them access to elected office where they could influence public policy.

 

Sun, July 22 2018 10 Av 5778