Is David Duke Pulling a South Park by Endorsing Keith Ellison?

So Keith Ellison, a Black Muslim congressman from Minnesota, has been in the running for the past few months for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairmanship. As the leader of the DNC, the chair has pretty significant influence in terms of what direction to the party is going to go. After their pathetic, embarrassing loss this past November, the party has been reeling. Since Ellison has thrown his hat in the ring, he has won the endorsement of fellow progressive senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who have only gotten more popular since the presidential election. Although Ellison would probably be placed in the more progressive bunch amongst his Democratic peers in Capitol Hill, to call him a radical leftist is still a far cry.

However, despite lacking in controversial views, Ellison is still Black, and still Muslim, so we have to find something about him to hate, don’t we? It didn’t take long at all for a secret smear campaign to be conducted against Ellison in an attempt to disrupt the momentum for his bid! And the Republicans to blame for this devilish scheme? Oh wait, it was his own party! That’s the Democrats for you! So what did they manage to dig up anyway? Pretty much just a speech of Ellison’s in 2010 which may imply he is anti-Semitic. Predictably, they couldn’t be further from the truth. While Ellison may have criticized some of the ways in which the US deals with Israel, he is very publicly pro-Israel and has even spoken out against the moderately successful BDS (boycott, divest, sanction) campaign. The truth will hardly serve as a weapon to aid Ellison’s cause, because to the people in Washington, having any shred of sympathy to the plight of the Palestinian people is worthy of hanging.

The fuel for Ellison’s smear campaign just got a dose of nitrous oxide today with the bizarre endorsement from former KKK leader David Duke. With the DNC chair election in just two weeks, this feels uncomfortably similar to FBI Director James Comey’s idiotic or calculated announcement on Hillary Clinton’s emails shortly before the election.

It begs questioning why Duke did this. All the reports (and there are a LOT of them now) are based upon a tweet he sent. To say it was vague would be an understatement, but that was probably the point. Alt-righters are jumping at the chance to hail Duke’s superficial sense of equality, because if you can support a Black Muslim you can’t possibly be racist dammit. My best explanation for this seemingly manipulative move by Duke is from an old episode of South Park called “Chef Goes Nanners”. The plot goes like this: a movement begins to change the city’s obviously racist flag, but a few fellows named Ned and Jimbo are opposed to the idea because the flag is a part of their heritage. Their efforts are derailed when the KKK arrive to City Hall to show support for the current flag, because they recognize that people would favor any side that is the opposite of the KKK’s, either through revulsion or peer pressure. Ned and Jimbo then hatch up a plot to attend the next KKK meeting dressed as members, and convince the group to support changing the flag in order to sway people in the opposite direction. In a moment of strangely acute awareness of the overwhelming influence of their own unpopularity, the KKK members heartily accept the fellows’ plan and congratulate them on their genius. Is David Duke following the same blueprint to sabotage Ellison’s candidacy?

With the Simpsons in the news every other week for some random prophecy made in one of their billion episodes (I mean, the predictions become just a little less impressive when you’ve had so many, right?), it looks like South Park may have their time in the sun. It’s been posed that Duke’s support may stem from believing that Ellison is, in fact, anti-Semitic. We can argue all day about whether he values anti-Blackness, Islamophobia, or anti-Semitism most, but it probably doesn’t matter. The fact remains that he is a man famous only for being despicable; his endorsement will undoubtedly hurt Ellison’s bid, whether purposeful or not. Connotation is a powerful psychological force, and people are going to automatically be repulsed from anything Duke supports, including Captain America himself. Whether or not Duke will influence the outcome of the election in two weeks remains to be seen.