At times when this country has been in need of healing, strong leaders like Lincoln, Roosevelt and King have appeared to urge the people forward to a better future.
This is not one of those times.
With racial tensions running high over both the killing of African American men by police officers and a retaliatory massacre of police officers in Dallas, the presumptive presidential nominee of one of the major political parties is a man who has repeatedly stoked racial, ethnic and religious intolerance for political gain.
And now, as if Donald Trump weren’t enough, here comes David Duke.
Yes, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, one-time member of the American Nazi Party, white supremacist, anti-Semite, conspiracy theorist and convicted felon, has decided that now is the perfect time for him to return to public life, and has authorized a committee to explore a run for the House of Representatives.
Duke’s personal website, which often summarizes the content of his internet-based “radio” show, confirmed Tuesday that he is actively exploring a run for the Louisiana seat currently held by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. Improbably, it cites “the groundswell across America in favor” of his run.
Duke also left no doubt that he would be running an explicitly racist campaign, referring on the website to “the situation that is rapidly evolving in this country where blacks are being whipped up into a frenzy by the media over the false idea that they are being unfairly targeted by police, and are literally now taking up arms and attacking police and random whites.”
This isn’t the first time Duke has intruded on the public discourse in this election cycle. In February, after the former KKK leader spoke in favor of his candidacy for president, Trump refused to disavow him when asked about it in an interview. He later claimed that his earpiece had been faulty and that he had not heard the question.
While it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that Duke would pick 2016 to try to insinuate himself back into the world of politics, it doesn’t make his reappearance any less disturbing to people hoping that racial tensions across the country can be de-escalated rather than inflamed.