David Duke in Volhynia
I’m settled nicely in Volhynia; Rivne, to be exact. This is my fourth trip and I’m looking forward to two very fruitful months of research. I took a gander at the local bookstore (as I’m prone to, being a historian and all) on the main strip this past weekend. Sadly, I noticed a book by the one and only, David Duke (you’ll also notice his company: the bio of Taras Bul’ba-Borovets’ and a children’s book on the UPA to the right).
Many will recognize Duke as the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan who served in the Louisiana House of Representatives (says a lot about Louisiana) and once ran for Congress (thankfully lost). His racist and white supremacist ideology is so disgusting and pathetic, it’s even worth the time to explain it here on this blog.
While most Americans know a KKK member when they see one and try to avoid too much contact, Duke has enjoyed considerable popularity in Eastern Europe. The book shown above, Jewish Supremacism: My Awakening on the Jewish Question, was once sold in the lobby of the Russian Duma (or Congress), where it sold out in no time at all (not a surprise if you’ve lived in Russia, sadly). Duke occasionally gives talks in East and Central Europe at whatever degenerate fascist or nationalist organization will have him. At least, the Czechs detained him.
Yet, we have the Ukrainians to thank for the “PhD” after his name. This was given to him by MAUP, otherwise known as the “university of hate.” This is the same university that once called on President Yushchenko to investigate the “criminal activities of organized Jewry in Ukraine.” For more on MAUP, especially its curious ties to people in powerful positions in Ukraine, please read the excellent work by a friend and scholar, Per Rudling, “Organized Anti-Semitism in Contemporary Ukraine: Structure, Influence, and Ideology.”
MAUP is responsible for publishing the vast majority of hate literature in Russian and Ukrainian, including Duke’s drivel (you’ll also notice the other book, “The Moscow-Jewish Problem and Independent Nationalism” next to it in the picture). Once upon a time, namely two years ago, one could find this hate literature in heart of Kyiv, even on Khreshchatyk Street (equivalent of Times Square), but apparently the backlash against MAUP has managed to rid these stores of the filth (at least I haven’t seen it in any recent trips).
How many Volhynians buy and actually read David Duke’s book? It’s hard to say, but I doubt it’s a majority of them. I’m sure most people are more worried about feeding their families or finding work or the recent football match score, then reading the views of America’s finest Nazi. Sadly, I can say thought that such viewpoints do have some support here in Rivne. This is what I get to look at everyday when I go home:
Reactor, the authors, is a fascist youth group in Ukraine. According to friends, they have recently showed up on the scene in Rivne. They let the city know of their presence by canvassing it with their hate. Why are such youth groups growing in Ukraine? One never needs to look far when it comes to the genesis of right-wing hatred: socio-economic issues. A recent report on tolerance and diversity in Ukraine, in light of the upcoming Euro 2012, highlights the growing far right-wing violence in Ukraine and correctly summarizes their origins: “growing unemployment, lack of economic and social reforms, absence of equal opportunities, lack of transparency and weak integration of ethnic minorities.”
While challenges like closing the gap between rich and poor in Ukraine will certainly take some time, we can only hope Volhynians will follow suit and remove such hate literature from their stores. More than just a potential elixir for violence and indoctrination, its presence is simply embarrassing for the majority of Volhynians who seek a peaceful future as a tolerant nation and member of the international community. Fascism has done enough damage in this region already.
Update: As a colleague pointed out, it’s important to note Duke is even cited by reputed Ukrainian historians. See the citation below by Ivan Patryliak, who is hardly a fringe historian. He has a job at the most prestigious university in the country.