A little bit of honesty for the New Year

Steve Scalise, the House Republican Whip-elect, appears to be surviving the flap over his appearance at a David Duke-organized event. It’s good to be able to welcome the New Year with a word of praise for the party I oppose. I’m glad that the GOP has decided to come out of the closet as openly racist.

The event itself has been misdescribed in the press as “white supremacist;” in fact, David Duke’s keynote speech didn’t even mention black-white issues, instead focusing on anti-Jewish themes. “Neo-Nazi” would give a much clearer picture of what EURO was really about.

Still – as even Erick Erickson has pointed out – there was never any doubt of what David Duke, the Klan Wizard, was about. He’s the kind of batsh*t-crazy racist who isn’t sure Jews are actually “white” (and, a generation or two ago, would have had the same doubts about the Irish and the Italians).

So what did Steve Scalise, aspiring Louisiana politician, have to say about David Duke?

The voters in this district are smart enough to realize that they need to get behind someone who not only believes in the issues they care about, but also can get elected. Duke has proven that he can’t get elected, and that’s the first and most important thing.

Well, that couldn’t be clearer, could it? “The first and most important thing” is to get elected. Politicians who frankly campaign on their hatred of blacks and Jews can’t get elected. So voters who “care about” hating blacks and Jews need to find politicians like Steve Scalise, who “believes in” Duke’s message but won’t say so explicitly, because such politicians can get elected.

That sums up the current strategy of the Confederate Republicans about as clearly as I’ve ever heard it summed up: seek the votes of bigots by winking at them, and by pursuing policies that are hostile to African-American interests without being explicitly racist. So it’s entirely appropriate that Scalise should have been chosen for, and remain in, the House Republican leadership.

It’s also entirely appropriate, of course, for those who don’t approve of bigotry not to be taken in. Somebody needs to explain that slowly to the ADL.

UPDATE The latest spin is that Scalise didn’t actually speak to the EURO conference, but to another conference at the same venue on the same day, organized by the same David Duke crony who organized the EURO event. Even if that’s true, it wouldn’t change what Scalise said about his role as “David Duke without the baggage.” That seems to me a pretty good summary of today’s Republican party.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

7 thoughts on “A little bit of honesty for the New Year”

    1. I found the Slate article rather strange and not very persuasive. The only sources seem to be his two buddies who were kinda the EURO conference organizers but kinda not the conference organizers but definitely his buddies. But unquestionably close aides of David Duke.

      The claim seems to be not so much that he didn’t attend the event as that he actually attended an event within the event that he couldn’t have known was related to David Duke or racists because there were no posters or other markings to indicate that this was a EURO event and (for reasons they were never asked to explain) these two very close aides of David Duke rented an equally unmarked room to host an appearance by law enforcement, the Red Cross and their friend Scales during the racist conference but somehow separate from it. It looks like the Slate “reporter” just wrote down what they said and published it without bother to look too closely at this ludicrous alibi.

      On the other hand, people who claim to have attended the actual (completely unmarked, hidden and apparently totally unpublicized) conference claim contemporaneously to have clear memories of having heard Scalise speak. For example, as documented by Stuart Levine, an established regular on Stormfront wrote a contemporaneous account of Scalise’s speach. Elsewhere on the Slate site, David Duke hints broadly that he remembers Scales so speaking.

      Since this is a story about New Orleans, I’ll give the last word to James Gill: “To accept an invitation from Howie Farrell and Kenny Knight, then act surprised they were fronting for David Duke, is like turning up at a rally with Goebbels and Goering and wondering how come there are swastikas all over the place”. http://preview.tinyurl.com/okhttno

  1. Here's the problem: Take a look at Scalise's record with respect to backing bills that discriminate against gays and lesbians. If one truly believes, as Stacy Burdett of the ADL claims to believe, that this is "a wake up call to every political leader that public office includes a duty to marginalize bigotry in everything you do," then let her ask Scalise to marginalize bigotry against members of the LGTB community.

  2. In a post on a right-wing website in 2002 (that is, roughly contemporaneous with the convention itself), there was a "favorable" mention of Scalise at the D.Duke convention. See here: http://bit.ly/1tH84Il. Four points:

    1. Was the website wrong in 2002 and, thus, did Scalise simply "misremember" the event when he "apologized" this last week?

    2. Will Scalise now revoke his apology: ("I no longer apologize for giving a presentation at the David Duke convention that I really didn't give a presentation at.")

    3. When you go to the website that I've linked to, think: Now where have I seen a font like the one in the banner at the top of the website. (My answer: My German textbook at Baltimore City College in 1965-66.)

    4. To prevent the 2002 comments from going down memory hole, I copied the site and saved it. My copy can be found here: http://bit.ly/1vSwBVL. Save the file and then open it in your browser and it will have the same appearance as the orginial.

  3. The contrast between now and 2002, when Trent Lott praised Strom Thurmond’s segregationist run for president and resigned under pressure as Senate Republican leader, is telling. Back then the Republicans had some sense of shame about pandering to racists.

    1. I suspect that the difference between then and now is actually the expectations of the Republicans. In 2002, I think they feared that being unreconstructed racists would cost them votes outside of their core supporters of elderly (mostly Southern), white Christians and villagers. By contrast, the GOP of today as learned to manipulate the counter-majoritarian bottlenecks to the point where they feel that their grip on power is unassailable. I believe that's the difference between then and now. The GOP is out and proud.

  4. "didn’t actually speak to the EURO conference, but to another conference at the same venue on the same day, organized by the same David Duke crony . . ."

    Is that like Shakespeare's plays being written by another person with the same name?

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