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I: Duke’s Life and Strategy Dugger: The Observer is an independent liberal paper, it comes out every two weeks, we’re puttin’ out a whole issue on you, some folks are going to go up to New Hampshire Duke: I’m not gonna be up in New Hampshire. Dugger: I know Duke: Liberal? What do you mean, liberal? Dugger: Well, I mean, Populist. Of course that covers a wide variety of things these days. But, for example, Jim Hightower used to be editor of the paper. Duke: Uh huh. Dugger: And we’re doin’ a special issue. We’re not gonna say vote for you or against you, the purpose is educational. And I want to print the text of the interview Duke: Oh, you’re gonna do a question and answer format? Dugger: Yeah. Duke: Well that’ll be interesting….Now, when we do this it’s like a first draft. I’m a writer like you are, a journalist somewhat, I’ve written I guess a million words….So when you do this I don’t mind your editing in the sense of cleaning up the grammar or the syntax, or whatever. Dugger: Sure, and if you like, what I could do, whatever transcript I come up with I’ll fax it over to you. Dugger: That’d be fine. Whenever you’re ready I am. Let me get my tape recorder goin’. \(Duke opens a drawer in his desk and activates Dugger: Where’d your folks’ families come from? You’ve got Scottish forebears. Duke: If you go back that far enough, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and I’ve got English forebears as well. And then my family lived in the Midwest, on my Mother’s side Missouri, my father’s side Kansas, kind of straddled north and south, and I had forebears on both sides in the Civil War. Actually as a very young child I’ve lived in Texas, Wichita Dugger: Wichita Falls? Duke: Wichita Falls, yeah, I also lived in Wichita, Kansas. And I lived in Texas as a young man for a while visiting my sister and brotherin-law in Abilene. Dugger: In Zatarain [the biography of Duke by Michael Zatarain], I read about how your father inspired you about having integrity, stickin’ by what you believe no matter how lonely you get. Duke: Yeah Dugger: I wonder what you remember his saying and how that affected your concept of integrity. Duke: He used to teach Sunday school, and one of his lessons he used to always give me a lot was that if the crowd goes the wrong way, you are absolutely obligated to go the right way. That’s something that I remember very clearly. Dugger: And it stuck with you? Duke: Yeah. Dugger: You think it shaped you? Duke: It was one of many things. It was one of many things. Dugger: I have the details of your illness after you went to Israel from Zatarain. 2 How close did you come to dyin’? Duke: I don’t know. I was out for a few days, and the doctors told me I had about 106 fever for a while. Dugger: 106? That’s very dangerous. Duke: Very close. The doctor told mehis words wereit was a very “sophisticated” form of food poisoning. He said that if I had not made it to the naval hospital in Athens, more than likely I would have expired. Dugger: With how much certainty or conviction do you believe Mossad might have poisoned you? Duke: I don’t know. That’s just pure conjecture. I do know that the Israeli intelligence came to my room 24 hours before I left Jerusalem because the lady at the desk at the hotel told me that they had let people into my room, that they had been from the government. I didn’t know what to make of it at that time. But of course at that age I was already in the ADL [Anti-Defamation League] files in this country, extensively, because of the Kuntsler incident in my speaking out at Free Speech Alley [at LSU], and that type of thing. It might have taken them some time to correlate my entry into Israelthey didn’t have the computer systems that they do nowwith their files. Dugger: But they could have known about your activities in the U.S.? Duke: I think they probably did… But I mean, who knows? All I know is that I’m just lucky. I almostI was in Istanbul, I was very sick, and I was able to get to the airport and kinda collapsed and made it! Still here! Dugger: Losin’ elections doesn’t seem to bother you. Eight elections since 1975, And I wonder if you’d discuss running for office as a way of building a movement. Isn’t that one of the things you’re doing? Duke: I don’t know about that. Any election I’ve runexcept when I ran for president in 1987, ’88, in some states, this was really a protest thing, that wasn’t a serious election; but when I ran for the legislature that was obviously serious, my races for Senate and governor were serious, I was trying to win. The ’75 and ’79 races were serious: I got a third of the vote in both those elections. Dugger: But it doesn’t bother you to lose? Duke: Abraham Lincoln lost eleven times! People say, “Well, how do you have a right to run for president?you lost the gubernatorial race in Louisiana.” Well, here’s the situation: I won the vast majority of Republican votes, I defeated a Republican incumbent governor, the sitting governor. President Nixon lost a race in California before he started his comeback trail for President. I mean, I’ve got a lot of support. And that was in spite of being outspent [by Edwards] 10-1 in media expenditures and massive media opposition and the tremendous power arrayed against me. They used the economic blackmail argument on us, which was very, very effective. They kinda hit on this by accident. They started getting letters and these started building upon each other. They would get letters from corporations and tourisms and conventions saying, “Well, if David Duke is elected, we won’t come.” They just pounded on thisthe newspapers had frontpage articles day after day after day. People said, “I agree with David Duke’s ideas. I even agree with David Duke! But if I vote for him, you know, I lose my job.” A perfect example to illustrate that is United Cab Company here in New Orleans. United Cab Company, you know, is an all-white cab company, it’s very conservative, you know, working white people. They’ve had victims of a lot of crime. They really are about 100 percent for my policies, David Duke, and they like me. They polled them after the election and found that only 56 percent of them had voted for me. Of course that’s still a majority, but it should have been 100 percent. The pollsters asked them, “Well, why didn’t you vote for him?” And they said, “Well, because I’d lose my livelihoodI wouldn’t be able to feed my family, because the tourism and convention business is gonna be cut out.” That’s not an argument they can use in the presidential race. But it was used very effectively in the race for governor. [Ed. note: a spokesman at United Cab Co. in New Orleans said the company did not support Duke.] Dugger: If you don’t win the Republican nomination, which I guess most of the oddsmakers will say you won’t, might you run for president as an independent or third-party candidate in November? THE TEXAS OBSERVER 25