A 32-year-old blogger from Alexandria who has kicked a national hornet’s nest by tying Louisiana Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise to David Duke perhaps best exemplifies the power of the pen and its ability to challenge the mighty.
Lamar White Jr.’s cerebral palsy makes it difficult for him to walk. But there’s nothing wrong with his mind. He writes on subjects ranging from the rights of the disabled to racial inequity.
His aim lately has been on Republicans in power, and through his website, cenlamar.com, he’s taking on Scalise, the third most powerful man in the Republican-controlled House.
Scalise was a state representative when he addressed the European-American Unity and Rights Organization in 2002. The group, known as EURO, was affiliated with neo-Nazi and former Klansman Duke, who did not attend the 2002 conference at the Landmark Hotel in Metairie.
Although the story wasn’t reported at that time, it received plenty of interest after White posted about it on his website this week.
White said he’d heard about Scalise giving a speech to Duke supporters years ago, and recently uncovered the connections when he employed the Google search engine and typed in “Steve Scalise and David Duke.”
The story White posted on his blog has sparked a national news storm on whether Scalise, who is going into his fourth congressional term, should keep his post as majority whip.
GOP members, who last year chose Scalise for the position, have rallied around the 49-year-old Scalise. Scalise has acknowledged he addressed the white nationalist group, calling it a mistake.
White’s fans aren’t surprised at his latest feat.
“He has a sort of selfless bravery, I guess you would say, in that he really isn’t worried about anybody,” said Walter Pierce, editor of the Lafayette alternative news site The Ind.com, which publishes a monthly newspaper.
White acknowledged this week that he is a liberal, though he prefers the term progressive, and that his political writings align with Democrats.
“There are only a handful of Republicans I’ve seen who are progressive, and most of them I would say are not real Republicans,” White said.
His philosophy came from an upbringing in Alexandria, in the heart of central Louisiana. White’s grandfather, Paul White, made the family fortune in real estate development.
Though White enjoyed the privileges that family money provided, life wasn’t easy for a boy with cerebral palsy, which affects body control.
“His physical problems started at birth,” said R.J. Dunn, an Alexandria business owner who lived next door to Lamar White Sr. and Carol White.
“Lamar’s birth was hard on Carol and his father,” Dunn added. “And it was tough being a White and not being perfect.”
Born in 1982, White underwent 15 surgeries in the first 14 years of his life.
“I spent my childhood in hospitals and in physical therapy,” White said this week.
He graduated with honors from Alexandria Senior High School and double-majored at Rice University in religious studies and English. While at Rice, he excelled at writing personal essays, an outlet that took on a special importance in 2001.
White’s father had bipolar disorder and struggled with addiction. On Feb. 3, 2001, about 7 p.m., White Sr. was drunk and driving fast on a winding Alexandria road called Horseshoe Drive when he crashed into trees and died.
“He struggled with addictions most of his adult life. He was very open and honest about it,” White said. “He was a central figure in my life then and he still is.”
In 2006, back from Houston and living in Alexandria, White started cenlamar.com. His writings caught the attention of mayoral candidate Jacques Roy, who brought White into the campaign and later employed him in his administration.
White later decided to enter Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law in Dallas. He will graduate in the spring with a four-year law degree, a program that allows students to take classes at night. The schedule has given White time to report and write.
He hasn’t wasted his time, writing prolifically on diverse topics: racism, politics, the rights of the disabled, movies, the environment, to name a few.
“I think he has fans who, even if they don’t agree with his positions, will read him because he’s such a damn good writer,” said Leslie Turk, editorial director at TheInd.com.
“He definitely draws you in,” Turk said.