The “Christian organization” that is the KKK has, largely encouraged by Tea Party style politics, been resurfacing in America–and has been rather irritating residents of several communities by passing out flyers promising that the KKK is there to defend the neighborhood against crime. All across the country, the KKK has been pressing the image of a “kinder, gentler Klan,” attempting to project the image of a
hate group patriot organization that is focused on the good of society instead of that messy “hate blacks and Jews” stuff. They even say that they aren’t the “enemies of the colored and mongrel races!” How about that?
In fact, when former KKK Grand Dragon Frazier Glenn Miller shot and killed three people at two Jewish institutions, KKK Imperial Wizard Frank Ancona was outraged–outraged I tell you! “What this guy just did set back everything I’ve been trying to do for years,” said Ancona, who heads up the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
Ancona says that the racists in the KKK don’t want violence. “I believe in racial separation but it doesn’t have to be violent,” he told CNN. “People in the Klan are professional people, business people, working types. We are a legitimate organization.”
Ancona says that Miller, who founded the Carolina Knights of the KKK in the 1980’s went “rogue,” though he could be referencing that time he testified against a bunch of white supremacists in exchange for a reduced jail sentence.
Ancona says the “new” KKK wants to educate people about their ideas in an effort to sell their point of view–to “help change things.” He believes that their message of hate can be spread without violence.
CNN asked top marketing experts if this re-branding effort is conceivable, but found that, “The Klan could change its name, get a smooth-talking spokesperson, replace the robes with suits and take off those ridiculous hats, but underneath, people would recognize its message is the same.”
[box type=”shadow”]”They stand for hatred; they always have,” said Atlanta-based brand consultant Laura Ries. “Maybe they don’t believe in shooting up a center for Jewish people, but they still support beliefs that are beyond the scope of understanding for most people and certainly the freedom and equality our country believes in.”
“What would you be left with? Benign racism?” asked Jelani Cobb, director of the Africana Studies Institute at the University of Connecticut.[/box]
Cobb added that, since Miller’s victims were not even Jewish, “In the most basic sense, the fact that the people who were killed were not Jews drives home Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s point that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. It’s the most horrible metaphor for the fact that we are all impacted by the legacy of hate, even when it’s not specifically directed at the group to which we belong.”
If the Klan was genuine in its claim that it wants to re-brand, “the only honest way of establishing that would be to do restorative work for the incredible damage their history of violence has already done,” he said. “No sensible person is going to wait around for that to happen.”
Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center estimates there are only about 8,000 KKK members nationwide–and they are beyond disorganized. He emphasized a 2013 rally in Memphis that drew about 75 Klan members dressed, as usual, in their ridiculous ghost costumes (that’s what they are supposed to be, right?). A second Klan group teamed up with a Crips street gang to protest the first group.
Group number two wanted everyone to know that the Klan is not about violence, and that they were the real Klan.
Only time will tell if anyone will buy what the Klan is selling, but it seems rater unlikely. You can’t paint stripes on a horse and call it a zebra, and you can’t apply anti-violence rhetoric to the Klan, and call it anything besides what it is: a shameful part of our nation’s history that is taking its last, deep breath before suffocating under the weight of a society that has outgrown its bigoted ideals.