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BOB ECKHARDT had discovered that is what life is about, the quality of life revolves around race, if there’s any mixing of race then the quality of life declines.” “It was very clear,” Rickey said, “that he’s a racialist, whatever you want to call it he’s not a conservative like I am….This man is an ideologue. That’s why I felt compelled to continue this speaking out against him, because it’s like I am a witness, and I feel I owe it to say what I thought. I think he’s crazy, to be honest with you.” On August 4, 1989, Rickey said, she and Duke had lunch together at the Ming Palace in New Orleans. Duke told her on that occasion, she said, that Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s confidant who flew to England early in the war, should have received the Nobel . Peace Prize, and that his imprisonment was a travesty of justice. Reading from . notes she put into her computer the next day, Rickey recounted the following conversation about Captain Josef Mengele, the SS doctor at Auschwitz who conducted “selections” for the gas chambers at the railway 8tation and the camp infirmary and killed many prisoners in brutal medical experiments on them: Duke: “And then there is Dr. Mengele.” Rickey: “Oh, you like him, too?” Duke: “Beth, the man had a Ph.D.” Rickey: “Oh? OK.” \(Rickey said she was stunned by what was being Duke: “Do youthink he would have jeopardized his career with so many witnesses? Come on.” Rickey: “It would seem illogical.” Duke was defending Mengele, Rickey stressed, not as a monster who performed hideous experiments on captive twins. All that, Duke regarded as propaganda. “He admired his genetic research on twins,” she said. “He didn’t mean the horrible experiments. He saw him as a great scientist.” From memory, for she had not put down a note about it, she said Duke said Adolf Eichmann had gotten “a bad rap, I think was the term he used, in his trial in Israel. He wasn’t such a bad guy, was sort of his view of Eichmann. He thought the whole kidnapping of Eichmann and the trial was a propaganda thing.” During this same lunch, Rickey said, Duke said the stench in the air around Auschwitz was caused by the fact that it was a rubber manufacturing plant. “So I’m talking to a man who believes all this. I don’t know if I can relay to you the horror when I realized that he believed all this stuff…..He said, ‘You see, all these camps were not extermination camps.’ And he gets real excited about it, he said they were labor camps, there were no death camps. He said, ‘There were no gas showers.’ And he does a lot about Zyklon B, a pesticide, Zyklon B was used to disinfect the inmates, all these people, they’re enemies of the state, Jewish ; communists, they were interned just like the Japanese here. “I said, ‘Well, my father went to a camp and saw all those bodies, ,what were they?’ and he said, dismissively, ‘Oh, they just died of starvation and typhus. They weren’t exterminated.’ Reading directly from notes she said she had made on her word-processor the day after the conversation, Rickey said out: “He said that the Final Solution was merely a plan to segregate the Jews from the rest of society, that there said, ‘Don’t you think that transporting the Jews to Poland and other locations would be stupid if Hitler wanted to kill them? Why would’he transport these people all over the place, make a big deal out of it, if they were going to be killed. They were just going to labor cainps.’ “To me,” Rickey said, “that’s what’s the most chilling thing: why would a man like thisit speaks to the very soul of this mandeny, why would anyone want to deny this happened to anybody?” The last conyersation they had, Rickey said, occurred before the Setpember 1989 meeting of the state GOP committee. “He had tried to co-opt me, it had worked to some extent. I was very uncomfortable about doing all this….I’m wavering. He asks me,`Are you gonna go with the censure motion against me?’ I say, ‘I dunno, if I censure you it’s because of your ideas, not because of you as a person.’ I mean, he’s got me all mixed up. So then he said, ‘I won’t be able to talk with you any more if you do this.’ So I was faced with a choice, and I decided to do it. And then I broke off with him.” “The first death threat came the week before the censure move,” Rickey said. “I’d gone on radio, saying that I was going to be part of the censure move. There were two threats, back to back, they were phoned in, that if you get up and do this, you’re gonna be sorry, and I said, ‘Who is this and what do you mean,’ and they said, it was something to the effect ‘You’re gonna get a bullet through your head.’ It was very specific. And then called back and sort of reiterated that same message.” At the state committee meeting, Rickey said last week, “I was so ner-vous, and so upset about that, that I couldn’t talk. In fact, another member of the state committee, Neil Curran, had to read the censure resolution. I stood next to him, and people said later, ‘Why didn’t you say anything?’ I didn’t really want to say why. I stood with him because I wanted to be with him for moral support, but I couldn’t talk, and I was thinking, watching this chamber going, ‘Is anything gonna happen to me?'” After that, she said, she had “countless” harassment calls, a lot of hang-up calls at night during the 1990 Senate race, and then, during the governor’s race, “it was like all day longit was crazy.” People followed her from her home; one night, she said, a car tried to run her off the road, off Western Boulevard. After that, for a week, Beth Rickey was protected by a hired former policeman, and “things stopped.” The state committee voted, not on censure, but on whether to consider the motion of censure. The outcome was announced, but not the vote, which, Rickey said, was 120 against and only eight for. The prevailing argument against censure was that ‘it would only give Duke publicity and make him a martyr. “My argument, Rickey said, “has always been that if conservatives don’t speak out, then they’re going to be smeared with the label of being racist….It’s a moral question. It’s not something you say, oh, politically there may be a backlash. Some issues are beyond that. There are some things you have to say. Only eight people voted with me. I was stunned when I found out later.” THE TEXAS OBSERVER 33 .’V. lay .,/,.,P#40,14.1!.