Sunday, July 31, 2005

Supremacists Shop at Sam's

Just before closing time last Sunday evening, we dashed into Sam's to buy our stock of standards for summer camp lunch boxes. And as I neared the produce aisle, what did my wandering eyes behold but the epitome of evil, the idiot of idealogues, the demonic demagogue himself, David Duke.

In case you don't already know who this guy is, David Duke is a former grand wizard of the KKK. He's the founder of the NAAWP, (yep, "White People"), and NOFEAR, National Organization For European American Rights, which, after a trademark infringement lawsuit, was changed to European-American Rights Organization. Duke's big on using the term "European" rather than "white" these days. I always thought I was white and European, but I believe this is questionable by the DuKKKe standards. For example, if you're Jewish, you're not white. (But I'd bet you I could randomly pick 100 card-carrying "legally Jewish" folks to parade in front of him mixed in with Duke's "officially white" designees and he'd miss the call at least half the time, probably more) Same deal for Semitic folks in general, (which includes Arabs), as well as Hispanics, and probably lots of other groups who think they're white, too. I have a friend who dated a guy whose parents made him break up with her because she was not "white." That's what he told her; she was confused, as she appears to be quite white, but her mother is German but her father is from Madrid. A Spanish last name. That's all it took. I was eighteen when she told me this and it was the most bizarre and unbelievable thing I'd ever heard of. Little did I know...

Anyway, we are pretty much the poster family for everything Duke abhors, no matter how you slice it. My gravest offence may be that I, a white girl, married a black man and had a child with him. Except I don't think he'd consider me to be white because I come from a family where Christians, Arabs and Jews from the central and eastern Mediterranean, cross-pollenated freely, with some input along the way from fair skinned/haired/eyed interlopers from northern Europe. This amalgamation has yielded an assortment folks falling at different points along the continuum between dark olive complexions (me, in summer) and quite fair and freckly folks (my sister), with lots of blue and green eyes. However, none of these (so-called) "Aryan" traits offset the non-Aryan traits and make me officially white, per Duke. (My dad's grandmother was very, very fair-skinned and blue eyed, a condition that Dad attributed to "The Norman Invasion," which , not being much of a history buff, I know nothing about.)

It should be noted here, for the record, that word "Aryan" has its roots in linguistics and is generally associated with the language families of Iran and northern India. It was only by some very fancy footwork by Nazis and proto-Nazis that the word came to be associated with a white "master race." (Want to know more? Wikipedia has lots of info.) Don't try explaining this to the hatemongers. But do ponder the irony of pro-European-American rights/white supremacists embracing a concept based on something rooted in Iran and India.

Now, on to my second manner of offending the grand wiz. Given the fact that I'm probably not white by his definition, I've committed the grave offense of spoiling some perfectly good, blue-eyed WASP seed by procreating with one in round two of my contribution to the overpopulation of the planet. (Sorry, it wasn't deliberate, but they're both very much worth it.) I'm sure Duke must have wanted to wretch when he saw fair little Rachel, with her light aqua-blue eyes, and dusting of freckles across her nose and cheeks, trouping around the store with her horrid mother and bi-racial brother. Poor child. She'll never ever learn how superior her WASP half is, living in a house with us.

Though we don't know each other personally, David Duke and I are not strangers. When he ran for governor of Louisiana in 1991, (another of the many things we have to be proud of here), I joined a group of activists organized by local members of the ISO (International Socialist Organization) and the Delta Greens (a local chapter of the Louisiana Green Party) to fight him and his campaign of hatemongering. It was one of the most fulfilling times of my life. We went wherever he went. We heckled him and hounded him and never gave him a moment's peace. We organized rallies, marches, vigils, and produced a fundraiser in the form of a play called "Do The White Thing," a parody of Duke's campaign, written and directed by some very talented New Orlenians and performed by black actors in whiteface makeup. Little three-year-old Alex was present at many of the events, (only those that I expected to be safe), and still remembers holding a "NO DUKES" sign and chanting anti-Duke slogans. (Zaytuni- I believe you were at some of these as well, n'est-ce pas?)

I must not fail to acknowledge all the hard work of Lance Hill, the man who was the driving force in the hard-fought battle against Duke, not just in 1991, but at every opportunity, as Duke's political career was certainly not limited to the race for governor. (Read the article at the link and you can't help but admire this man.)

When I saw Duke at Sam's, all I could think of was what a pathetic piece of crap he is. Actually, from the moment I saw him, I had this irresistible urge to laugh at him, which I indulged frequently. I watched him spend nearly 10 painstaking minutes inspecting the several containers of tomatoes he'd opened, substituting the less-than-perfect specimens for pristine ones from the other containers until he had his own little master-race produce to take home. Poor guy. It must be tough to be him, so perfect (after thousands of dollars worth of cosmetic surgery) and to have to live in such an imperfect world. How ever does he survive in a city such as this, with it's 66 % black population- even higher of you count all us deluded folks who think we're white but don't qualify for reasons mentioned earlier. (Actually, Duke does not really live among us New Orleanians- he lives in the white-flight suburbs, of course.)

After I pointed him out to Alex, I decided I wanted to take his picture with my camera phone and blog it. Alex wanted to be a part of that, so I gave him the cell phone. It turned out to be much harder than we thought, because you've got to be pretty close to get a good cellphone picture and we wanted to be stealth. We kind of stalked him around the store for a while without luck. It was a frustrating endeavor and there were moments where I just wanted to go right up to him and with a big grin on my face and ask him to smile for the camera, then trot off laughing.

As I said earlier, it was just before closing time when we were shopping and we beat Duke to the checkout lines. There were only three lines that were still open, and two of the cashiers were black. The line for the white cashier was longest, and when Duke arrived, he nervously paced back and forth with his basket, trying to decide what to do. What a dilemma; the shortest line (ours) with a black cashier and a longest one with a white cashier. He got in the white cashier's line. I had turned to watch him, curious to see what he'd do and eager to give him the evil eye, or better still, to chuckle at him, which I think is a more appropriate assault .

After he made his choice I said, in the kind of voice you'd use to speak to a child, "That's right. Don't get in the short line with the black cashier..." I said this at what I guess was a normal volume; not very loud, but not at a whisper. The 20-something year old cashier gave me a perplexed looked and I told her the man in the suit was David Duke. Her eyes got as big as saucers. The black cashier in the next line heard me and suddenly they were looking at him then looking at me and then each other, like the big, bad wolf was about to gobble them up. I told Alex to snap a picture, even if Duke was not that close. Alex was nervous, so I told him to just take my picture and get Duke in it. He did.

So, I'm still turning and giving him the evil eye every now and then, and the poor cashiers seem nervous, and then he moved over into our line, behind the customer that was behind us. I apologized to the disconcerted cashier for startling her told her not to be afraid of the big coward and advised her to just treat him like any other customer.

Little Rachel wanted to know what all the fuss was about, so I explained as best I could who Duke is. On our way out to the car, we began to speculate about what kind of car Duke drove. Aware of the kind of ego Duke's known for, I thought it would be some sort of German power-car. Knowing that black is a power color, I even postulated that it would be black. After all, he wears black suits when not clothed in white robes. Rachel, having just found out what Duke is all about, said she thought he'd drive a white car. Turns out she was white right. And the cable repair man, a green-eyed, African- American with a passion for cars who saw what I was working on when he used the computer to test the connection, said the car is Japanese. Interesting.

Post Script: I've been working on this post for the last two weeks, as time has permitted. In doing my research for pictures and links to enhance the content, I visited Duke's website. I will not grace it with a link, but you can find it by by simply adding dot com to his name. I must tell you that perusing it made me feel nauseous, literally. Although he still hates virtually everyone, he seems to have almost completely devoted himself to antisemitism now. I have never been able to find any logic in this sentiment that can stand up to even the most miniscule scrutiny, and I remain confounded by the notion that Duke and his ilk manage to rationalize their beliefs.

Duke in Wikipedia
The Southern Poverty Law Center- Advocates for Justice and Equality
General Information About Hategroups and Extremists
SPLC's Hatewatch
Duke Stars in Gay Prison Porn?


Anonymous Ray said...

Great post, Lisa.

7:35 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Yes Lisa this is a great post. I am both glad to hear and not at all suprise you were part of the anti-DD protests, his venture into state politics sickened me. I don't know what I would have done if Ryan had been with me, but I hope I might have done the same as you. You really took away any power he may have had with your words.

10:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad we have free speech in this country. Wait, I mean free speeh as long as they agree with you, or the majority... otherwise their positions and ignorance goes forever mocked.

I'm not defending the man, just expressing freedom of speech.

1:07 AM  
Blogger LisaPal said...

Sorry, anonymous, but I don't get the relevance of your comment in the context of my post. Nowhere did I address the question of free speech nor question whether or not Duke and his ilk should be allowed that right. I only relate my own experiences (freely) and admit my inability to grasp the logic used to justify his kind of bigotry, as he freely expresses it.

I am a big fan of free speech, even when I don't agree with the views being expressed. I'd rather that right be exercised, without censorship, so that I can hear what others think/feel/want and at least have an opportunity to try to understand what's behind it rather than to have to rely on assumptions made necessary by the lack of information.

Yes, I'd rather know all about guys like Duke. Let him say it, wear it as a swastika on his sleeve or a hooded dunce cap on his head. If it's his truth, I want to know, because knowledge is power. I just like to use mine for good and not evil.

5:58 AM  
Blogger Lasciate said...

Lisa, you are a badass. Go tell your children I said so.

Well, maybe choose another noun. But you get the idea.

8:55 PM  
Blogger LisaPal said...

I don't think I've ever been called a "bad-ass" before, and I have to admit, I kind of like it! It makes it sound like I have some real chutzpah!

It occurred to me tonight that if I really was bad-ass, I would have made an announcement to all the Sam's spectators that David Duke appeared to be conflicted about whether or not he could use the shorter line with the black cashier without losing his credibility, and then asked if there were any Klan members, Neo-Nazis, or other racist, bigots watching who would think less of him if he did.

Unfortunately, I'm way too wimpy for that, though I have friends who would have done it without thinking twice, as they often proved in 1991. In particular, I remember one of them attending a public appearance Duke made and positioning himself perfectly for a Duke handshake, then, when Duke extended his hand, it was returned with a crisp Sieg Heil. This gesture was very disarming for the wolf in sheep's clothes. Way too bold a thing for me to do. But you've got to have real balls to go up against someone who would willingly walk around in public wearing a Nazi uniform, complete with swastika armband.

4:37 AM  
Blogger pi22seven said...

Lisa you ARE a badass!

As far as free speech goes... Duke does have the right believe whatever he wants.

I also have the right to let him know how wrong he is.

10:17 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

I think we found a new nickname BADASS Lisa... I like the sound of it.

10:34 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

OK BADASS Lisa, I am missing you, where oh where have you gone?

10:28 PM  

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