When Mike Pence was asked if former KKK leader David Duke, who New York Magazine says is perhaps “America’s most famous white supremacist,” is deplorable, or “deserving censure or contempt,” Pence validated Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” remark by answering, “I’m not in the name-calling business.”
Pence told Wolf Blitzer,
“I’m not really sure why the media keeps dropping David Duke’s name. Donald Trump has denounced David Duke repeatedly. We don’t want his support, and we don’t want the support of people who think like him.”
Actually, Trump’s alleged rejection of Duke is much less certain than Pence claims.
If David Duke is not deplorable, the word has no meaning. Even Wolf Blitzer took time away from his obsession over Hillary Clinton’s health to admit David Duke is a “deplorable.” Hillary Clinton tweeted, quick to seize on Pence’s refusal to condemn Duke,
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
David Duke was so vexed by Clinton calling “KKK” on him that he misspelled the VP nominee’s name:
Clinton attacks Pense for NOT calling me "Deplorable" Yet, #HypocriteHillary supported ex-kKK Robert Byrd for Senate Leader! "Deplorable?"
— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) September 13, 2016
This is a false equivalency of course, because Robert Byrd’s story is one of redemption. He became a champion of the Civil Rights Movement – which Duke clearly is not – and was honored in his passing by Eugene Robinson in a moving op-ed, and mourned by no less than the NAACP.
And Pence’s logic is strange, because Trump’s “deplorables” regularly tell us that if they’re telling the truth about black and Muslims and Jews and others, it’s not name-calling; it’s not racism; it’s just facts.
You don’t have to look for to find the source of this reasoning: David Duke has defended segregation by confusing racist stereotypes for facts, asking, “Are facts racist too?” Pence himself used that reasoning when he claimed his anti-LGBT legislation was not “discrimination” but “God’s plan.”
David Duke is deplorable. And it is not an insult, but a fact. One needs only look at the things Duke has said and done. But of course, the Trump campaign had to defend all its racist core because it can’t afford to alienate the angry white folks who make up the majority of its supporters. And nobody was happier than David Duke himself, who told BuzzFeed News:
It’s good to see an individual like Pence and others start to reject this absolute controlled media. The truth is that the Republican Party in Louisiana — I received the vast majority of Republican votes for United States Senator before and for governor before that in my state. The truth is the Republican Party is big tent. I served in the Republican caucus. I was in the Republican caucus in the legislature. I had a perfect Republican voting record. It’s ridiculous that they attack me because of my involvement in that non-violent Klan four decades ago.
The Republican Party is anything but a big tent. It is a tent that includes a lot of white people, but it doesn’t include blacks, who vote overwhelmingly Democratic and of whom, at most 1 percent support Trump; it doesn’t include Jews, who reliably vote Democrat, and who will certainly not be attracted by Trump’s anti-Semitic alt-right following; it doesn’t include Muslims or Mexicans, neither of whom Trump thinks should be living here; and it doesn’t include women, most of whom reject Trump’s misogyny.
In a clear wink-wink, Pence said, “We don’t want his support and we don’t want the support of the people who think like him,” but he won’t call Duke deplorable.
In fact, Trump and Pence not only want the support of people like Duke, they need it, because the GOP is anything but a big tent. What the GOP is instead, as Donald Trump Junior’s recent retweeting of Nazi memes demonstrates, is the main-streamer of extremist ideologies.
It’s an abuse of language to call the GOP “big tent” because includes those those who are “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic.” What Duke is describing is not a big tent. It is, in fact, a basket of deplorables.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.