Sunday, May 08, 2005

THE DOWNSIDE OF THE INTERNET

By William Fisher

The web is a wondrous thing. I couldn’t live without it.

But it is not without its problems. One of them is that anyone can pluck anything from any source and copy it.

Even knowing the risk, imagine my surprise – nay, shock and awe -- when an article of mine appeared on the website of that ultra-libertarian citizen journalist, David Duke.

You will no doubt remember Mr. Duke.

Twenty years ago, he was America’s most renowned ‘white rights’ advocate. In 1988, he ran for the Presidency, eventually appearing on the ballot in 11 states and receiving 47,047 votes. In 1989, he narrowly won a seat in the Louisiana State Legislature. The following year, he ran against Democratic incumbent J. Bennett Johnston for a US Senate seat. Johnston won, but Duke got 43.5 percent of the total vote and 60 percent of the white vote. In 1991, he launched a campaign for the governorship of Louisiana. He lost the election but again won nearly 700,000 votes. Undaunted, in 1996, he again competed in Louisiana’s United States Senate “open” primary, placing fourth among 15 candidates, with 140,910 votes, and carrying several rural parishes.

Then the government charged him with mail fraud and tax evasion for fund-raising efforts that bilked his supporters. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison. His sentence ended in mid-May 2004.

My encounter with Mr. Duke started with a Google search for an article about
home-grown terrorism I had written for the InterPress News Service. The search turned up Timothy McVeigh, Eric Rudolph and a virtual rogue’s gallery of other miscreants.

One of them was David Duke's “European American Home Page”.
(http://www.davidduke.com).

There I found an article entitled, “Roots of Anti-Gentilism Run Deep, Jewish Poll Reveals!” by David Duke.

That came as a big surprise to me, because my article was about a poll of anti-Semitic attitudes in the US conducted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
(The poll found that nearly 35 million U.S. citizens – 14 percent of the adult population – hold ‘strong’ anti-Semitic beliefs.”)

Mr. Duke seized on one of the survey’s findings: 33 percent of U.S. citizens believe Jews are more loyal to Israel than the United States.

Duke reproduces the headline on my article -- “Poll finds that Roots of Anti-Semitism Run Deep by William Fisher, Interpress Service News Agency, April 25, 2005” – and then writes:

“The ADL claims that it is anti-Semitic and prejudiced to believe that Jews are generally more loyal to Israel than the United States.”

Obviously warming to his subject, Duke then quotes an article by a Jewish-American leader recalling his boyhood and his pride in the achievements of the State of Israel.

In fact, says Mr. Duke, “the ADL survey is itself as ‘anti-Gentile’ as it purports that 33 percent of non-Jews are ‘anti-Semitic’ for saying that they believed Jews were more loyal to Israel than America. In truth the numbers who believe that are probably far above 50 percent, for few in America will dare admit to a pollster that they think Jews are disloyal. For branding a third of our people with the hateful term ‘anti-Semitic’, for simply acknowledging a fact that is easily proven and easily verifiable by Jewish leaders themselves, is a vicious libel against our people.”

Our people? I guess he means Aryans. Or maybe Aliens.

Undeterred by logic, Duke concludes, “The Jewish supremacist beat goes on!”

And so, lamentably, does Mr. Duke. It is rumored that he is thinking of running for Congress!

Which reminds me that the downside of the Internet is that it is the most unforgiving test I know of for one’s faith in the First Amendment.

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