The KKK, Donald Duke, And Trump Connection: Is The Klan On The Rise In America?

Is the KKK on the rise in America? With David Duke recently announcing his candidacy for the U.S. Senate and Trump's anti-immigration rhetoric, Ku Klux Klan leaders believe that the time has once again come around for their brand of white supremacist politics. But, are their dreams of resurgence fantasy or reality?

David Duke And Politics

David Duke is officially a former leader of the KKK, but he has never parted company with its white supremacist philosophies or policies. An unsuccessful candidate for Louisiana governor in 1991, with Trump now the official GOP candidate, David Duke sees the zeitgeist as ripe for his kind of politics.

David Duke announced his support for Trump's campaign for the GOP nomination earlier this year and Trump famously took days to come out and denounce the support of the former KKK leader. Duke, however, doesn't seem daunted by Trump's disavowal of his support. He spoke to Reuters reporters.

"I don't really care what Donald Trump says about me. I respect what he's doing."
In the video where he announces his candidacy for the Senate seat being vacated by outgoing Republican Senator David Vitter, Duke was even more explicit.
"I'm overjoyed to see Donald Trump and most Americans embrace most of the issues that I've championed for years."

David Duke, Trump And The KKK

After Trump's rambling, hour-long victory speech at the RNC on Thursday, David Duke was quick to take to Twitter to express his support.
As noted in Chicago Defender, he seemed to be echoed by talk show host Laura Ingraham, who looked like she was making the iconic Nazi right hand salute. Specifically, it is Trump's widely publicized and oft-repeated stance against Mexican immigration along the border that has galvanized David Duke and the KKK in recent times.

Like David Duke, Klan leaders see the mood of the American public – in particular, anti-immigration sentiment – as being ripe for their resurgence. The KKK has had a strong anti-immigration stance since the 1920s. While actual numbers seem to be scarce, KKK leaders told the Associated Press that their membership has been rising since President Obama was elected to a second term in office. They point out that the KKK does not openly advocate violence, and say that the days of beatings and bombings are over.

The KKK – Recruiting And Growing?

The KKK has seen its fortunes rise and fall during its 150 year history. Spawned in the American South at the end of the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan gained in popularity during the Jim Crow years. Then, membership dwindled during the Civil Rights era of the 1960s.

In Fayetteville, CBS North Carolina reports that African Americans were recently targeted with racist hate messages that were thrown onto front yards, with the notes contained inside plastic bags weighted with rocks. The notes specifically mentioned the "Loyal White Knights of the KKK," and local police say this isn't the first time they've seen similar actions.

The Daily Beast reports that the KKK is actively recruiting in the San Francisco area, using the recent shootings of police in Dallas as an impetus. The Ku Klux Klan distributed flyers in the historic Haight neighborhood, reading, "JOIN THE KU KLUX KLAN." The KKK has also distributed similar flyers in northwest Georgia, according to AJC News.

According to the Daily Beast, The Loyal White Knights of the KKK is an offshoot of the so-called "new KKK" which formed in 2010. The group has a reputation for civil unrest and has launched similar flyer campaigns in the past. There are moves to unite the various KKK factions. Brent Waller, imperial wizard of the United Dixie White Knights in Mississippi, is quoted in an Associated Press report.
"We will work on a unified Klan and/or alliance this summer."
However, their claims of growth and resurgence may be more fantasy than reality. As noted in the AP report, the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center puts the KKK at fewer than 200 chapters across the United States with a total membership under 6,000. In comparison, during the 1920s, Klan membership stood between 2 and 5 million.

While their numbers may be low, however, when it comes to the Klan, David Duke and the connection to Trump, the GOP's official presidential candidate, the KKK's dreams of legitimacy on the American political stage may becoming much closer to reality.

[Photo by Keystone/Getty Images]