This is, of course, nonsense. Duke has not been in the Klan for 36 years. As much as I dislike the “Democrats are the Real Racists” arguments, it’s notable that Duke is far more removed from the Klan than Robert Byrd or Hugo Black were at the peak of their political careers.(Democratic Senator Byrd was a Klansman in 1946, a Democratic Congressman in 1953, a Senator in 1959, and stayed a Senator until 2010. )Duke is also further removed from the Klan than Bill Ayers was from the Weather Underground in 2008. While Barack Obama’s political career began in Ayers living room, Duke’s endorsement of Trump is the extent of any connection.The great libertarian economist Murray Rothbard explained the hypocrisy of anti-Duke hysteria after his 1991 gubernatorial run:
If you won’t say the KKK is deplorable, you have no business running the country. https://t.co/mFut8Qrz9A— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 12, 2016
They said in the 60s, when they gently chided the violent left: "stop using violence, work within the system." And sure enough it worked, as the former New Left now leads the respectable intellectual classes. So why wasn't the Establishment willing to forgive and forget when a right-wing radical like David Duke stopped advocating violence, took off the Klan robes, and started working within the system? If it was OK to be a Commie, or a Weatherman, or whatever in your wild youth, why isn't it OK to have been Klansmen?[Right Wing Populism, Lewrockwell.com, January 1992]Indeed, even this comparison does not fully expose the current double standard. There has never been one single “Ku Klux Klan.” As Ron Unz noted, the Main Stream Media greatly exaggerates the actual violence from modern Klan chapters—and Duke’s organization, the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, was never accused of any violence or law breaking. It actually attempted to moderate the views and style of the old Klan [The KKK and Mass Racial Killings, Unz.com, September 19, 2016]. Duke’s involvement of the Klan would be akin to someone creating his own Black Panther chapter which eschewed violence and tried to advocate for legal reforms but gave it up because he could not shake the associations people had with the name.One can question Duke’s prudence in attaching himself to a name with such historical baggage. But there were never any peaceful Weather Underground wings—and Bill Ayers was personally involved in terrorism.At the same time, the fact is that, if it were it not for Duke’s long-ago involvement in the Klan, no one would care about him in the first place. It gave him notoriety and name recognition that enabled a first term state Rep to almost get elected to US Senate. And people still remember him more than any other losing gubernatorial or Senate candidate from 25 years ago. Today, there’s no way that a candidate with low single digits in a Senate election would get so much attention.So what should we make of Duke’s run? To the extent that voters are willing to ignore the apoplectic smears and vote for him, it certainly shows extreme resistance to the MSM’s and political establishment’s attempt to silence dissidents.Paradoxically, Duke has thrived almost entirely because of his association with the Klan—and now because of the fact that the MSM wants to smear Trump by associating him with Duke. But also, unlike virtually every other figure even loosely connected with the Alt Right, Duke has explicitly tried to associate himself with Trump. Duke’s campaign manager went as far as saying “Their fates are linked together.” [David Duke, leading 'deplorable' and Senate candidate, sees Trump as kindred spirit, by Todd Gillman, Dallas Morning News, September 22, 2016]This is simply not the case. Both Trump and the movement he has inspired will manage with or without David Duke.Roger Dooghy (email him) is a Conservatism Inc. refugee making an honest living.