The current divisive political and social climate in the United States has led to groups like the KKK to become encouraged about spreading their message. Although the KKK may be more outspoken now than in recent years past, they still shy away from the label of being white supremacists.
Contrarily, the KKK’s official creed lends itself to the goal of white supremacy stating the group “shall ever be true in the faithful maintenance of White Supremacy.” The term is capitalized to highlight its importance. Ever since the victory of Donald Trump in the presidential election, this perspective has become more mainstream than we have seen in years. Almost 900 hate-related incidents were accounted for in the first 10 days following Trump’s election.
The KKK may be galvanized by the current political atmosphere, but their propensity to dismiss the term inevitably derives from their inspiration to make their cause more acceptable. Additionally, the use of Christianity to further validate their cause is a common approach. Before a Trump rally, one member of the KKK reinforced these thoughts.
“We are white separatists, just as Yahweh in the Bible told us to be. Separate yourself from other nations. Do not intermix and mongrelize your seed.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center, who tracked the hundreds of hate incidents, has most frequently used the term white supremacy to describe groups like the KKK. However, this label has not deterred the KKK from backing off the label. This may be attributed to David Duke, a public figure for the Klan. His attempts to get involved in politics could possibly be a focus point when trying to understand the ways in which you should present yourself to the public.
Although the KKK may try to politicize and soften their image while aligning themselves with Trump, their history tells a different story. In 1951, the home of an NAACP executive was firebombed by the KKK, killing Harry Tyson Moore and his wife. Over the next few decades, notable Klan attacks became frequent.
In 1964, twenty predominantly black churches were attacked while civil rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, were murder by the KKK. They were aided by local police forces to pull off their objective.
One of the most infamous incidents regarding the KKK occurred in Birmingham, Alabama on September 15, 1963. The 16th Street Baptist church, with a mostly black fellowship and a haven for civil rights leaders, was bombed. This tragedy killed four African American girls and injured many others. One of the main components leading to the bombing was a recent court order that permitted the integration of Alabama schools.
The evidence history provides of the KKK’s proclivity for a country strongly tied to white supremacy is evident. Their past is strongly correlated to violent acts against minority populations. However, members of the Klan have continued rhetoric that tries to cast them in a different light.
“We’re not white supremacists. We believe in our race.”
The relation between this type of explanation from the KKK about their ties to white supremacy to Donald Trump is startling. That is not to say Trump is a full supporter of white supremacist ideology, but he has done his best to soften his image with the use of publicly accepted bombast. As Trump has tried to pull back on his comments during the campaign of championing the anti-establishment perspective of political thought, his cabinet choices have been anything but.
Preparing for a Trump rally, the actions between the KKK and our new president-elect are apparent. Distancing yourself from pejoratives like white supremacy requires different action than the history of the KKK suggests.
[Featured Image by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images]