Why Nobody Who Knows Louisiana Believes Steve Scalise

Why Nobody Who Knows Louisiana Believes Steve Scalise

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) has admitted that he delivered a speech to a so-called “white rights” conference in 2002 that was held by an organization known as EURO, headed by the neo-Nazi leader David Duke. Scalise has also insisted that he shares American society’s abhorrence of such “hate groups” — and that he did not know what kind of group he was talking to.   He is asking the public to believe that he did not notice any of the virulent racist and anti-Semitic talk by the Klansmen, neo-Nazis, and assorted white nationalists in attendance at this gathering.

But Louisiana Republicans have had a David Duke problem since 1989, when Duke won a state assembly seat. He had been a neo-Nazi ideologue since his youth; he had paraded one night in full Nazi uniform with a swastika armband at the state university; and he had made the “international Jewish conspiracy” central to his Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s. Even after he was elected, Duke was still selling Holocaust denial books from his state legislative office.

Yet the Louisiana State Republican Party Central Committee refused to either investigate Duke’s views or pass a censure motion, despite the repeated efforts of Beth Rickey, a Central Committee member. When Duke said he had changed his beliefs, his fellow Republicans and many white Louisianans decided to believe him.

Then in 1990 and 1991 Duke ran in two consecutive statewide elections in Louisiana — for U.S. senator and governor — and won a majority of the white vote both times. The state was saved by black voters, whose ballots defeated him. Again, the state Republican Party refused to investigate Duke’s actual positions. Nevertheless, his worldview became the central issue in those campaigns. And after Duke equated affirmative action with the extermination of European Jews, President George H.W. Bush stepped in to denounce him. Once more, local Republicans remained silent. Scalise, who was 25 years old in 1990, could not have missed this debate, which made national news.

A few years later, Duke finally gave up his Republican “my views have changed” smokescreen.   He published an Aryan primer as an autobiography in 1998, was convicted of tax fraud and went to federal prison in 2002, and began a prolonged public rant and rave about Jews that continues to this date. At the time of the EURO meeting with Scalise, Duke was overseas, attempting to avoid indictment, and addressed the gathering in Metairie, LA, via long-distance video hookup.

It is hard to believe that Steve Scalise, a sentient adult, missed all this, particularly as he was running for re-election to the state legislature in 2002. It is much easier to believe that he had the typical, old-fashioned, indulgent Louisiana Republican attitude toward David Duke. The question remains: Are there any national Republican leaders who will stand up, as President George H. W. Bush did in the 1990s, and speak the truth?

Published with permission from the Institute for Research & Education On Human Rights.

Photo: House GOP via Flickr

New Questions Emerge After Arrest In Kansas City Shootings

New Questions Emerge After Arrest In Kansas City Shootings

Two weeks after the deadly shootings at the Jewish Community Center and the Shalom Center in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, Kansas, the arrest of a well-known white nationalist has raised new and difficult questions.  Three people are now dead; one of them was 15 years old.  The alleged shooter, who has been best known as Frazier Glenn Miller, is a national socialist—a confirmed neo-Nazi. He shouted “Heil Hitler” at the time of his arrest. None of the dead were Jewish, however. Unless Miller falls fatally ill to a major disease, or succeeds in killing himself, we can expect him to go to trial and then, hopefully, be convicted. This story does not end there, however.

Already, there have been multiple repercussions. The recently elected mayor of the small Missouri town of Marionville, Dan Clevenger, near where Miller had most recently lived, raised his voice as a friend of Miller’s and proffered his own anti-Semitic comments as proof. In response, the town council—angry at the attention paid their community of 2,200—voted 4 to 1 to impeach the mayor.  Clevenger resigned the next day.

The attention paid to Miller has sharpened public perceptions of racism, anti-Semitism and bigotry in a manner that would have been otherwise impossible. And as other recent stories and opinion pieces about the racism and bigotry of Nevada government freeloader Clive Bundy demonstrates, quietly abiding bigotry until a headlight shines on it is a fairly widespread phenomenon.

Further, Miller’s past deals with prosecutors, and his role as a key witness in a 1988 federal seditious conspiracy trial and in a state murder trial are being forcefully re-examined. Both instances are discussed in my 2009 book, Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream, and frankly, I am very glad to see this new discussion of old topics opened up again.

To understand these developments, we must begin with events that began in North Carolina about three decades ago. In 1980, Glenn Miller, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Army and a member of the National Socialist Party of America, turned to organize the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.  That organization became the White Patriot Party in 1985. The new organization kept his Klan’s venomous attitudes towards black people and people of color. It also looked at the world through the prism of anti-Semitism — the belief that Jews were evil incarnate and ran the world to the supposed detriment of the “white man.” Activists typically wore camouflage uniforms, regularly engaged in paramilitary-style training, and some illegally acquired weapons from nearby military bases.

The Klan group and then the White Patriot Party marched and marched across North Carolina, sometimes appearing in more than one small town on a single Saturday. These marches were carefully coordinated affairs, with row upon uniformed row of men and women in uniform and carrying Confederate battle flags. These spectacles attracted new members and by 1986 Miller’s White Patriot Party had over 1,000 members in North Carolina alone. Some reports indicated that 150 members had once been Special Forces soldiers.

While Miller was busy marching his troops in public, an underground army of Aryan warriors known as The Order had formed in the Pacific Northwest, and drew new members from the Midwest and South. It killed at least three people, robbed banks and armored cars, and then distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to white supremacist leaders across the country.  Miller arranged for one of the key Order members to hide in North Carolina and received, by most accounts, $200,000 in robbery money for use with his White Patriot Party. Some accounts place Miller as a member of The Order. By the first month of 1985, however, The Order’s warriors were either killed or rounded up by law enforcement officials. At the end of 1985, in a trial in Seattle, most had been either turned over by the cops or convicted on RICO charges or other federal crimes.

Miller and the White Patriot Party remained free, however, until July 1986, when they were convicted of violating a consent decree and running a paramilitary organization with intent to cause civil unrest. Miller subsequently went underground. But the members remained active, either as cadres in the newly formed Southern National Front—which carried on a bit of the marching tradition—or as underground guerrillas in a war against everybody

On January 17, 1987, in Shelby, an adult bookstore often patronized by gay men in the area had been the site of a brutal, murderous crime. A number of men with guns entered, told the four patrons and one shopkeeper to lie face down, and then shot them all in the back of the head before burning the store down. Miraculously, two men crawled out and survived, although were badly maimed. Eventually, the investigation turned to former White Patriot Party cadres.

Meanwhile, from the underground, Miller issued a “Declaration of War” dated April 6, 1987, and was arrested shortly after in Missouri, on April 30.

In a December 15, 1987 letter to Federal Judge Earl Britt, Glenn Miller wrote of former White Patriot Party members Douglas Sheets and Robert Jackson: “both had committed the premeditated murders of 3 men in Shelby, N.C. and the attempted murder of two others, and that Douglas Sheets was a cocaine addict and pusher, and Robert Jackson was little more than a common thief.”

Miller finished the paragraph to the judge with a bit of self-deprecation that came to be Miller’s false-face calling card in captivity. “My wife is right, I’m a very poor judge of character.” On other occasions Miller would claim he was not very good with guns or explosives, despite his military service.  Another time he claimed that calling for a race war was simply a ploy to try and get the government to give him his organization back.  And so on and on; duplicity added to lies added to whatever ideas Miller could cook up.

In any case, at that point in 1987, Miller had conveniently switched sides and was being used by both the federal government and the Shelby county prosecution. In May 1989, Miller testified as a rebuttal witness for the prosecution in the Shelby murder trial of Douglas Sheets. His testimony had no effect on that trial, however. On May 27, 1989, Doug Sheets was found innocent of anything in regard to the Shelby murders. Robert Jackson was never prosecuted.

Now, after Miller’s capture in Kansas, cold case prosecutors are coming to the Kansas City area to talk to Miller, according to the Kansas City Star. It should be known before they arrive, however, that Miller is likely to give them less than truthful answers, and he cannot be expected to be more truthful this time around than last. Why? In a second trial his testimony proved even less valuable to the prosecution.

In February 1988, most of the main leadership of the white supremacist movement were charged with seditious conspiracy and tried in Fort Smith, Arkansas.  As I wrote in Blood and Politics: “One of the weakest government witnesses was Glenn Miller. The formerly ferocious chief of the White Patriot Party claimed to have given up his hatreds and become a born-again Christian. He whimpered and crawled before the jury, displaying malice toward none but cynicism toward all. … Rather than risk a lengthy redirect, prosecutors pulled Miller off the witness stand before he had warmed up the seat.”

In short, Glenn Miller had cut a deal with the federal prosecutors that left him with little jail time to serve and the government with little in the way of an effective witness. At the time of the Kansas City area shooting, in the opinion of IREHR, he should have been still in jail.

Finally, there remains the question of where Glenn Miller, a convicted felon, got the guns that he supposedly used in the Jewish Community Center shootings. Federal officers are reported to be investigating the source of his weapons.

The Missouri General Assembly is on record in opposition to federal law enforcement officers infringing on what they deem the Second Amendment means. Last year, the assembly passed a law that read in part: All federal acts, laws, executive orders, administrative orders, court orders, rules, and regulations, whether past, present, or future, which infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States I and Section 23 of the Missouri Constitution shall be invalid in this state, shall not be recognized by this state, shall be specifically rejected by this state, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect in this state. The governor vetoed this bill, and it is not in effect. We can hope that the source of the weapons will be found in all haste.

There still remains much to do in this case.

Republished with permission from the Institute for Research & Education On Human Rights.