On confronting the Ku Klux Klan

Do the right thing even when no one is looking. It is called integrity.

For many years the Ku Klux Klan and it’s many associated hate groups literally got away with murder. These hate groups were and still are instruments of fear and their targeted populations knew that this use of fear was intended to control them.

2A96DB9C00000578-3164954-Members_of_the_National_Socialist_Movement_and_the_Adirondack_Fr-a-67_1437122736546

Notice the burning swastika along side the burning cross.

It is dangerous to confront evil, but without proper treatment a wound only tends to fester and perhaps become gangrene.

I do not feel badly toward those who justifiably fear for their personal safety and/or the safety of their loved ones. It is those who foster and promote fear in the larger community as if to protect them from danger preventing any effective action being taken to display public and communal rejection of the Klan’s tactics of hate and fear that I disdain. I disdain them for it is them who should be at the head of efforts to expose the Klan and associated hate groups for what they are, i.e., purveyors of hate who thrive on producing fear in those that are otherwise unprotected by the “larger society.”

Birth-of-a-nation-klan-and-black-man

A scene from the 1915 movie, The Birth of a Nation, showing African-American character, Gus (played by white actor, Walter Long, in blackface) about to be killed by the Ku Klux Klan

In my studies of the history of the KKK there has been two ways they have faded into the shadows. Yes, faded into the shadows for those that truly hate never completely disappear they are simply kept in check by being exposed for what they are, “HATERS: nothing but haters.”

The methods of their diminution are as follows:

New Jim Crow

1. they succeeded in intimidating their target communities enough for the general population of scared whites to no longer feel the need to tolerate the open and public ugliness of the Klan.

2. the targeted community and their allies confront them until their evil ways are exposed to the general population such that the general population feels enough shame so they cease supporting the Klan.

Some seem to suggest that the Klan should be ignored thus by denying them publicity in hopes they will go away. But history doesn’t seem to confirm this idea. That is to say, “Those who would use violence to deny others their rights cannot [afford to] be ignored.” That the law must be exercised if it is to have a truly strong effect is a truism, but it does hold a great truth within for even racists must learn they are required to respect the law.

I grow weary of Christians who…

The rapid rise of the KKK in Oregon in the early 1920s offers an illustration of what can occur in a community where the citizens allowed themselves to be silenced in the face of the hatred they saw and heard around them. While the silence of the members of the “larger” community emboldened the organizers of the Oregon Klan in the 1920s it was not until the “greater” community began to display sufficient courage to publicly speak out against the Klan that they were exposed for the simple opportunists and hate mongers that they are. Opportunists who often sought political power and financial rewards for playing on the fears and hatreds of the common and usually the undereducated in a community.

 

According to Morris Dees, co-founder of The Southern Poverty Law Center, most of the rank and file members of the KKK he met while taking depositions and in personal interviews were “basically good people,” that they were “little different” from his rural neighbors and many of his relatives. However, there was one exception to this assessment; most of them were “life’s losers.” Within Klan organizations and similar hate groups those “losers” find opportunities for social interaction they often miss in the larger community, that they are often presented the chance to become “leaders” of a sort that they may never otherwise have a chance to become and that they are presented a forum to vent their gripes among others who are either as ignorant as themselves or are happy to exploit the ignorance of this uninformed populace.

Ku Klux Klan Propaganda
Engraving of white man holding american flag and sword standing on body of black slave in manacles with caption ‘Ku Klux Klan’ circa 1920. (Photo by Fotosearch/Getty Images).

All this said hate groups are dangerous and they are unpredictable in how they will act out their brands of hate, but one thing that has ever remained true, that is, not to stand face-to-face with such groups is to secure the support of those marginalized individuals and groups they rely on for their sustenance and growth.

For further reading see:
Southern Poverty Law Center Publication––Ku Klux Klan: A History of Racism and Violence, https://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/Ku-Klux-Klan-A-History-of-Racism.pdf

http://www.history.com/topics/ku-klux-klan

Roger W Mills II

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