MICHEL MARTIN, host:
I am Michel Martin, and this is Tell Me More from NPR News. Coming up, the Barbershops guys on the latest campaign news and whatever else they want to talk about. But first, this historic and hard-fought presidential campaign is almost over. Whatever happens next week, it seemed fitting to have another installment of our What If series. We've been speaking with prominent figures from a variety of fields about what may mean to this country to elect the nation's first black president.
Today, a different voice than we have been hearing, the voice of white supremacy, David Duke. He is a former grand wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He is also a former Louisiana state representative and a former candidate for governor. He actually won a majority of the white vote in his state in two statewide campaigns. Currently, he is president of EURO, the European American Unity and Rights Organization, which he helped found. I spoke with him yesterday, and I'd like to warn listeners that elements of this conversation maybe offensive. We started by talking about how he feels about being described as a white supremacist.
Mr. DAVID DUKE (Former Grand Wizard, Knights of the Ku Klux Khan): First, I should say that I am not a white supremacist. I don't think any race should be supreme or rule over another. I do believe in equal rights for all. I just think today that European-Americans face a racial discrimination called affirmative action and the European-Americans have the same right to defend their heritage and their perceived interest as black people do in NAACP, which is not the National Association for the Advancement of People. It's the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, that Mexicans do in La Raza, which means The Race, and the advancement - and of course, there are hundreds of organizations that defend and support the perceived interest of the Jewish community, in fact, the foreign nation of Israel.
MARTIN: Well, that was going to be my first question.
Mr. DUKE: About European-Americans do what they call is supremacist and I totally reject that term.
MARTIN: And so, what do you call yourself? You're not a white supremacist. You call yourself a white-rights activist or what?
Mr. DUKE: I am much like a - I guess I would say that's correct. I would say it's a flipside of Barack Obama. He was a community activist or a black activist. He's been in the church for 20 years that - and one of the first principles of that church is that they are, quote, "true to Africa," loyal to Africa. There is nothing wrong with Barack Obama working and having a long career advancing what he sees as the black community interests or the black perceived interests as a group, collective interest, but I did see it as kind of odd that a man of that stripe would become president of the United States. It seems like - I think I should endorse him for president.
MARTIN: Well, hold on one second. Let's just talk about this just for a couple of second. I want to play you a short clip, if I could, from his - he had an extended campaign commercial on Wednesday night. It was a 30-minute piece that he bought airtime for him. I want to play a just a short clip and ask you what you think.
(Soundbite of Obama campaign infomercial "American Stories, American Solutions")
Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; 2008 Democratic Presidential Nominee): My father, you know, I only met him once for a month when I was 10. I probably was shaped more by his absence than his presence. My mother, she said to herself, you know, my son, he is an American and he needs to understand what that means.
MARTIN: For many Americans, they say this is kind of a culmination of America's best self. Here is a person who is biracial as a parent, born overseas and yet he has risen to prominence in this country. What does his biography mean to you? I mean, to some way, I would argue it - some might think this is your worst nightmare true.
Mr. DUKE: First of all, let me say this. I was lucky enough to have loving present father in my family. I am sorry the fact that Obama didn't have a father that was there for him. And I cannot appreciate the fact that he has achieved - that he got a degree. He's gone to Harvard University. He has been a teacher. I am today a Ph.D. myself. I just don't agree with the theme of that commercial. It's the best that Hollywood can produce. When he is angling for massive numbers of European-American votes, he's got to appear like he is for everybody, but Barack Obama, and I must say, as well as John McCain, support so-called affirmative action. And affirmative action is a very nice term for racial discrimination against better qualified white people in jobs, employment, promotions and scholarships, and college admittance.
So, I don't really buy all this malarkey. I don't think that he or McCain or even the political establishment of country defends the rights and the heritage of European-Americans. We now have an immigration policy. First of all, we're not enforcing our immigration laws, and illegal aliens are coming in by the millions. But also we've got massive numbers of non-European immigrants coming in, which will change the status in America from an overwhelmingly European-American nation to an overwhelmingly non-European-American nation.
MARTIN: So, you don't like Barack Obama, as I understand from your website and also from your recent comments. You're not enamored of John McCain either. Are you going to vote? Do you plan to vote next week? And who you're going to vote for?
Mr. DUKE: Well, if I were to vote, I'd vote third party and perhaps Ralph Nader or Chuck Baldwin. I think we have a two party strangulation in this country. Now, there is something about...
MARTIN: I am sorry, forgive me. I am not sure if you're still eligible to vote, given your felony conviction with (unintelligible)...
Mr. DUKE: Well, after a few years you can vote, and you know, I was charged with tax violations and things of that nature, but that's not the issue. I don't know, I am just telling you I will suggest the fact that people vote third party, because I think we have a two-party swindle, but we need more that two parties, and I don't think we're getting an adequate expression. And by the way, I could endorse some of - if Obama was truly against the war, I will be far more disposed toward him than I am now, far more in agreement with him, but he has already waffled on that. He says 18 months and he'll look at the situation again. He is putting more troops, massive numbers of - greater numbers of American troops in Afghanistan. That's not an anti-war candidate. And his biggest contributor is Goldman Sachs, I mean, one of the major players in this Wall Street theft and destruction of this country.
MARTIN: And so, do you object to Barack Obama's presidency or being elected based on his race or based on his positions, political positions?
Mr. DUKE: That's not change. Well, I think I'd rather have anybody of any race who defended the rights of European-Americans and heritage than I would have a European-American who actually betrays our people like John McCain has betrayed us. He is Mr. Amnesty in the illegal-alien issue. But Barack Obama is not a person who would defend the rights and heritage of the European-American people. He is right with the rest of the establishment in basically taking away the rights and traditions and values of European people that built and created the foundations of this country - our Constitution, our Declaration of Independence, our values, our traditions, our culture - and I think we're losing those things. I love these things very dearly, and you know, I also think the people of Tibet have the right to preserve their culture.
MARTIN: Can I just ask you for a minute? Can I just stop you - because we only have limited time, I just need to jump in just briefly to say, if you're just joining us, this is Tell Me More from NPR News. I am speaking with David Duke. Many consider him a white supremacist. He prefers the term, what? Would you say European-American white activist?
Mr. DUKE: I would say, I was a white civil-rights activist.
MARTIN: White civil-rights activist.
Mr. DUKE: I think that I've got the same right to preserve my heritage and my rights that black people have, that Jewish people have and all the groups that work for Jewish interest, that Mexicans have. And I think unless we stand up and do that, we're going to lose our rights and we are losing our rights in this country.
MARTIN: What is your vision for what this country should be like? Let's say the next 10, 15, 20 years, what do you want this country to look like?
Mr. DUKE: Well, I have the same vision that I think that the founding fathers of this country had. My vision would be a nation in concert with its traditions, its values, its heritage, a nation where our children are safe in the streets, where we have decent education, where the vast American majority is not facing racial discrimination. We have a vast disportionate (ph) crime rate in this country, at 37,460 white women who are raped or sexually assaulted by black males, as according to the United States Justice Department. And by the way, people...
MARTIN: You don't care about black people being raped by other people or black people being rape - (unintelligible) black woman being rape by black man or whatever, Latino women.
Mr. DUKE: Of course I care, but I want to point out, the fact is that 37,460 white women were victims of sexual assault or raped by black males, in the opposite hand, believe it or not, and you look at the Justice Department figures, less than 10 black women were victims of white-male sexual aggression.
MARTIN: And how about white women being raped by white men and black women being raped by black men? Is it...
Mr. DUKE: Well, there is always going to be - there is certainly going to be a rape a lot with familiar terms. I mean, there are arguments and fights among people that know each other, but in terms of...
MARTIN: But you're suggesting that somehow white women being raped by black male is apparently more destructive to the country.
Mr. DUKE: If there were 37,000 black women being raped or are sexually abused by white males every year compared to 10 white women by black males, there will be marching in the streets. There will be practically a revolution in this country, but this fact - and this atrocity goes unmentioned. White people are given the collective guilt. For - I'll give you an example. We talk about lynching. No one defends lynching. Everyone should have the process or legal process in this country. But even those who studied lynchings know that in the entire history of the United States of America, there have been about 5,000 lynchings in our entire history, and most of those people lynched - white or black - and certainly most of them in their whole history of the country were, in fact, white - most of them are guilty of heinous crimes like robbery, rape or assault...
MARTIN: I think...
Mr. DUKE: Well, let me finish. These women, these 37,000 women, white women who were victimized by black males, are guilty of nothing. They are brutalized...
MARTIN: I'm sorry, I just have to dispute you on this point about lynching. I think that there are many, many qualified people who have studied this question who believe you are completely wrong on that and your information is simply false.
Mr. DUKE: What am I wrong about?
MARTIN: That most of these people were guilty. Most of these people - many of these people were guilty of nothing except being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Mr. DUKE: Most of the time, lynching...
MARTIN: But let's - let's talk about the present day.
Mr. DUKE: At the - they don't say that at all.
MARTIN: Let's talk to the...
Mr. DUKE: They say that they didn't have the process of law.
MARTIN: Let's talk about the present day.
Mr. DUKE: There's questions that most lynchings took place in response of heinous crime.
MARTIN: Let's talk about the present day.
Mr. DUKE: That's a fact. They just didn't come out of the middle of nowhere.
MARTIN: Well, the last recorded lynching in this country, which took place in Alabama, was a man who was taken off of the street by people who are either Klan members or Klan sympathizers who admitted it and went to jail. One was executed and one served a very long sentence for - say they simply took this man off the street as a random act of violence aimed at sowing terror to be...
Mr. DUKE: If you want to take one incident and say that's the historical record, that's not really very accurate.
MARTIN: OK. Let's talk about the...
Mr. DUKE: And if we want to talk about - if we want to talk about those kinds of incidents in terms of cross-racial crime, it's almost in terms of multiple offenders like gang crimes against people. It's 100-to-one ratio. I mean, we're just 100-to-one ratio of minority of jacking(ph) white people instead of reverse.
MARTIN: Let's talk - OK. Let's talk about the present day.
Mr. DUKE: I'm sorry about that, those facts, but they are the facts.
MARTIN: Let's talk - I don't believe they are the facts, but let's talk about the present day.
Mr. DUKE: Well, I can show that...
MARTIN: Which is that - let's talk about the present day. I asked you, what is your vision...
Mr. DUKE: Right.
MARTIN: For the country? Is your vision that people of color - African-Americans and Latinos, Asian-Americans - will simply leave, that they will be - that there will be, what? Protected enclaves for people of different - what is your vision of how the country should proceed from where we are now?
Mr. DUKE: You know, my vision is - my vision is freedom, and I think that we shouldn't force people apart, and I don't think we should force people together. I think - I see nothing wrong with having schools in black community, oriented toward black people for black interest, for their particular environment and heritage and culture and other needs. I see nothing wrong with schools in the white community for white students. I see nothing wrong with letting neighborhoods be all white if they choose to be or be all black. I think we have enough space in this country to give people a choice. We don't give people a choice in this country anymore.
MARTIN: (Unintelligible) was of Asian - South Asian heritage. She's - so...
Mr. DUKE: Well, that's fine - and they also, we also preach conservative issues and very strong conservative views. And that's the whole other ballgame. But you know, look, if you give people the choice, and you can go all over this country, people tend to choose to associate with their own kind, their own heritage. That's a fact. That's a reality and that's consistent. You can go in the Department of Labor in Washington, D.C., where I was not too long ago, and I went in the cafeteria there. There are about 2,000 people in this huge cafeteria, and practically all the black workers were sitting with other black workers and the whites were sitting primarily with whites. Very few crossovers. People tend to associate with their own kind. There's nothing illegal or wrong or immoral about people choosing their own associations by people who are more similar to themselves.
MARTIN: If Barack Obama does become president of the United States, African-Americans are only, what? Thirteen percent of the population. Clearly if he wins, he will do so with the support of a majority of white voters. Are these people stupid or crazy?
Mr. DUKE: But he will never win a majority of the white voters.
MARTIN: Well, he will - he can't win with...
Mr. DUKE: He will not win a majority.
MARTIN: Black voters alone. He has to win...
Mr. DUKE: No, he can't.
MARTIN: If he does win, he will win with...
Mr. DUKE: Oh, he's going to get...
MARTIN: White voters.
Mr. DUKE: He's going to get some - he's going to get some white votes. And I think for awhile...
MARTIN: So, what I'm asking you is, are these people stupid or crazy or deluded or...?
Mr. DUKE: Well, I don't think people - I don't think these people are stupid. I think what's happened is they have really been programmed by the media over the years. That's a lot of why a lot of white people going to vote for Obama, because it's the thing that can make them feel good, because they feel like they're not a racist, and they are good person. You're a good person if you vote for a black man for president.
This is the stuff that's really come down the pipe over the last few years whether he's going to be good for the country. You know, the same thing was said in the former Rhodesia when Mugabe came, and by the way, Mugabe's a very well-educated man. He went to the major universities in England. And people said it's going to be a great day when the whites in Rhodesia are overthrown, and look at Rhodesia, currently Zimbabwe for the last 30 years, look at the terrible atrocities and killings and murders and corruption and destruction that existed in Zimbabwe. And people are saying, oh, it's going to be a great day when Obama becomes president, but I don't think it's going to be a great day.
MARTIN: You spent a lot of time in Russia, as I understand it?
Mr. DUKE: Yup.
MARTIN: There's not corruption...
Mr. DUKE: Yes, I've taught in Russia.
MARTIN: There's no crime, there's no mis-governance in Russia?
Mr. DUKE: Well, let me tell you this. There's misgovernment everywhere. They're coming out of many, many years of communism, but the Russians aren't the bad guys the American media's making out to be these days. I don't think they were the aggressors in Georgia. And I think that we need to - we need to have peace, and I think Obama - one of the biggest mistakes of Obama is the fact that he's a total - totally controlled by the Jewish extremists lobby, AIPAC, and both Obama and McCain are genuflecting before Israel.
MARTIN: Finally, I do - I want to ask - go back to the original question. What will be different in America if Barack Obama becomes president?
Mr. DUKE: I think the difference is going to be that the European-American majority is going to finally realize that we're really losing our country, that we are losing our heritage, out values. We've got our - we're going to have a black, radical, I think Marxist, president of the United States of America, and it's really going to radicalize a great percentage of European-Americans, that we have to now stand up for our heritage, our rights, our traditions, our values, our freedoms, the same way that blacks have organizations that stand up openly for blacks, and Jews have many organizations to fight for Jewish interests and Israel's interests, in the same way Mexicans do. And I think this is going to be a big wakeup call, I think, for European-Americans. I think that's what going to change the landscape, and I think that the Republican Party has also - needs to learn that they can't take for granted the white vote. They always do this. They say, well, vote for the Republican because the alternative is worse. That's not good enough.
MARTIN: David Duke is the president of EURO, the European-American Unity and Rights Organization. He describes that as an organization for European-American patriots or white civil-rights activists. He's here in this country to organize a conference which this organization will be having next week. He's also the former grand wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and a former candidate for the U.S. Senate and governor of Louisiana. He joined us from New Roads. Mr. Duke, thank you so much for speaking with us.
Mr. DUKE: You're welcome.
MARTIN: And just a note to our listeners, we try to verify the crime statistics that David Duke sited in this interview. We were unable to do that in time for this broadcast. We will post that information as soon as we get it on our website. Our conversation also went a bit longer than we were able to bring you here. You can check out that site to hear more of our conversation with David Duke. That's the Tell Me More page at npr.org.