In 1974, David Duke was something of a minor figure. The National Information director and Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, it was his job to paint pretty pictures and portray White people as the real downtrodden masses. In 1974 we were going through the gut-wrenching period of Watergate – and a lot of aspects of our society were coming into question. And for all the progress that was being made along social lines in the early 1970s – there was a belligerent and growing part of the population who were threatened and convinced the problem lay with other people of other races, other ideologies, other values.
And it was David Duke’s job, along with other members of the KKK and fellow extremist groups, to instill a level of fear and perpetual anger to those people who felt powerless, marginalized and overlooked – just as long as they were White. And since the KKK had fallen only slightly off the radar from the late 60s, they were resurfacing with a vengeance and determined to be a political force in America once again.
For all it’s historic proof that America was indeed a land founded by immigrants, and has been a veritable patchwork quilt of ideologies and customs, it didn’t stop the KKK and others like them, from immigrant bashing and making loud pronouncements that White America was disappearing, and that racial mixing and that Communism and Jews were the causes of it.
So it was David Duke’s job to put his case to the American people. And because we had this thing called The Fairness Doctrine in broadcasting, people like David Duke were perfectly okay to be interviewed and publicly scrutinized – just as they always had been.
Times though, have changed – we no longer have a Fairness Doctrine and David Duke endorses a Presidential candidate – immigrant bashing has given way to hate crimes and we no longer live in an open and accepting society.
Consider this; the interview on this post is from 43 years ago. In the years since, aspects of our society, our education, our freedom of speech, our freedom of assembly and our impartial press are all under attack. You could say it’s taken that long to get where it is today, and that none of this happened overnight – that, piece by piece, elements of our society have been deconstructed and eroded or abandoned – not in any sweeping dramatic fashion, but by small and slight changes that, over time, got us to where we are today. The whimper, not the bang as so many predicted.
David Duke is only one player in a scenario that began many decades ago – the end result being what you see today. What’s the future going to be about? It is only a matter of putting on your seatbelt and waiting.
In the meantime, here is that interview with David Duke of the KKK, as conducted by Michael Jackson over KABC Radio in Los Angeles on January 9, 1974.