Scalise’s troubles began when a Louisiana blogger found a post on the white radical website Stormfront that showed Scalise, then a state representative, spoke at a European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO) in 2002. EURO was founded by another former Louisiana State Representative, David Duke, who was, as the MSM never tires of reminding us, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
But Duke was not a marginal force in Louisiana politics, and, as even the New York Times admits, was careful to frame his campaigns around what has become respectable mainstream conservative rhetoric [Much of David Duke’s ’91 Campaign Is Now in Louisiana Mainstream, by Jeremy Alford, December 31, 2014]. Duke received majorities of the white vote in his races for the U.S. Senate (1990) and for governor (1991). Up-and-coming politicians in the Republican Party in the decade after Duke’s runs had to speak to audiences that once voted for Duke.
In 1991, Scalise said that he supported the “conservative” views of David Duke but rejected the candidate’s “baggage” and charged that Duke was simply a political “novelty.” Similarly, then-state representative and now Louisiana Senator David Vitter contrasted Duke with “real Republicans” and “real conservatives.” [What Scalise and Vitter Told Roll Call About David Duke in 1999, by Niels Lesniewski, Roll Call, December 29, 2014]
Though the MSM is circulating the meme that Duke’s tactics “preceded the Tea Party movement,” to use NYT reporter Alford’s phrase, Duke was greeted with horror by the Republican Party at the time.
Indeed, Duke may the only gubernatorial candidates in history who was denounced by his own President, national party, and state party during his 1991 run. Then-President George H.W. Bush called him a Holocaust denier who didn’t deserve “one iota of public trust” and Duke was “repudiated by state and national Republican organizations alike.” At the time, Duke had explicitly repudiated “the Klan or any other racist organization or intolerant organization that exists in this state or in this country.” [The 1991 Election: Louisiana, Bush Denounces Duke as Racist and Charlatan, by Roberto Suro, New York Times, November 7, 1991]
Even in the 1990s, the Republican Party in Louisiana was walking a fine line between appealing to Duke’s supporters and avoiding supporting Duke himself. But this is too fine a distinction in the eyes of liberals and the MSM. To appeal to anyone who voted for Duke is now held to be the equivalent of personally endorsing him.
No one even alleges that Scalise said anything that could be taken as hateful or than conventional Republican boilerplate. Instead, it’s the audience itself that is illegitimate—although though Scalise has maintained “he did not know about the group’s agenda or background.” [Scalise Admits “Mistake,” Is Backed by fellow GOP leaders, by Caitlin Huey-Burns, Real Clear Politics, December 30, 2014] Indeed, according to Duke associate Kenny Knight, Scalise actually spoke to a civic association meeting instead of a “EURO” audience. [Steve Scalise spoke to civic association meeting, not white nationalist conference, David Duke adviser Kenny Knight says, by Julia O’Donoghue, The Times-Picayune, January 1, 2015]
My guess: the realities of political life mean that the truth of what happened in 2002 is likely more complicated. “Extremist” groups, a label essentially decided by the MSM, can only overcome their marginalization by cultivating acceptance from mainstream officials, especially those who can win elections. Sometimes such groups may be less than forthcoming of their entire agenda when inviting political leaders to speak.
At the same time, a politician needs to be able to secure his base. This necessarily means cultivating relationships with controversial figures that could prove to be a liability if they become central to a campaign.
It seems indisputable that Scalise had a personal and somewhat professional relationship with Kenny Knight and that Knight was more involved in EURO than he initially told reporters. [Steve Scalise defender’s ties to white nationalist group closer than he disclosed, documents show, by Rebecca Catalanello, Times-Picayune, January 2, 2015] I suspect that Scalise spoke to a group that he knew full well was at least connected to EURO, but that he wanted to avoid speaking on controversial topics or presenting himself as a EURO spokesman. And the reality is that every Republican has to walk this line to some extent.
After all, Scalise is not exactly a hard liner. On immigration, his career NumbersUSA grade is only a B+ and his grade in the most recent Congress an ignominious D, perhaps anticipating his entry into the House Leadership.
And many other Republicans, including prominent “moderates,” have found themselves in the same situation. One of the main fundraising tactics of the Southern Poverty Law Center ($PLC to VDARE.com) is point-and-shrieking at Southern politicians who spoke before meetings of the Council of Conservative Citizens around the same time Scalise allegedly spoke before EURO [Mississippi Senator Trent Lott and Georgia Congressman Bob Barr Have Connections to White Supremacist Group Council of Conservative Citizens, by Heidi Beirich and Bob Moser, SPLC, Fall 2004]. However, many of these figures are actually far from stalwarts in the struggle against the curse of Political Correctness and some are even active supporters of Amnesty. According to the $PLC itself, they include:
Even in the North, liberal Republicans in the past found it politically necessarily to flirt with white identity politics. Thus New Jersey governor Tom Kean, whom no one could call conservative, campaigned alongside the “White Knight of Newark,” Anthony Imperiale in 1982 [North Jersey’s a Battleground for Florio and Kean, by Jane Perlez, New York Times, October 12, 1981].
The problem for the Republican Party isn’t the “racism” of its politicians—it’s the fact that only white people will vote GOP. While the regular MSM lynchings from Trent Lott to Steve Scalise mean that contemporary Republicans are decreasingly likely to speak in front of explicitly white political groups or align with overtly pro-White figures, their dependence on the White vote has only increased—especially in Southern states like Louisiana where Republicans won over 80% of the white vote and lost 95% of the black vote in the most recent Senate election. This means that the MSM, if it looks hard enough, will almost always be able to find “links” between a Republican and some local politician, group, or campaign worker who has impermissible opinions.
Result: the GOP is politically trapped. If it tries to increase white turnout to win elections—its only real option, what VDARE.com calls the “Sailer Strategy”—it will be attacked by the MSM as appealing to racists. If it actively avoids even implicit appeals to white voters and engages in pointless and embarrassing “outreach” efforts to minorities, it will lose elections.
What’s worse, this comes at a time when appealing explicitly to America’s burgeoning tribal groups on the basis of racial grievances is now at the core of the Democratic grand strategy. Thus the fairy tale created around a black “Gentle Giant” supposedly executed by white police in Ferguson, Missouri turned up as a campaign issue anywhere Democrats needed to increase black turnout.
And the justifications for an Amnesty/Immigration Surge have also become more overtly ethnocentric, as figures like Luis Gutierrez no longer even pretend that mass immigration is about anything but replacing the historic American nation. And the mental gyrations required to remain an “anti-racist” are now approaching the point of becoming a kind of induced mental illness utterly incompatible with any kind of “limited government” politics.
Scalise’s survival in the short term owes more to the needs of the GOP leadership to control their own restless House members than any sudden growth of backbone [6 Reasons Steve Scalise Will Survive His Speech Scandal, by Ron Elving, NPR, December 31, 2014].
But in the long term, the GOP has to either unapologetically use identity politics in the same way as the Democrats—or force the Left to pay a price for using the identity tactics denied to them. Given the tight ideological discipline of the MSM, the latter won’t happen any time soon.
Republicans are better off unapologetically championing white voters and accepting they will be called names no matter what they do.
Republicans like Rand Paul already seem comfortable with explicit identity politics so long as it is used against whites. They might as well stop apologizing for representing the only people who will vote for them.
James Kirkpatrick [Email him] is a Beltway veteran and a refugee from Conservatism Inc.