“I’m surprised more people don’t ask, “Which way is the Klan voting?” and then say, “Thanks, I’ll obviously vote the opposite way.” “
Quote from “The Bollard”, ‘Racisms’, April 5th 2016, by Samuel James.
Personally, I refuse to let the KKK tell me how to vote.
Look, on the face of it, the quote seems like plain common sense. Do I agree with the KKK? No? Well, let’s see who they like most and vote against them.
Every complex problem out there has at least one simple, easy-to-understand, common-sense, wrong answer. This is a perfect example. Read on and I’ll explain.
So you might have noticed that The Donald is doing particularly well this primary season. Like him or hate him, you certainly know his name — and a lot of people hate him. He’s more disliked than Nixon during Watergate, and yet, somehow, he commands a vast number of dedicated supporters, people who are committed to vote for the man no matter what. You know why?
The early part of the campaign news cycle was all about Donald Trump, a man who said so many outrageous things he seemed almost a joke. Every time someone else took the spotlight — ISIL attack, job reports, massive protests — he’d say something insane and the media would zoom back in on him. Whenever his numbers start to slip, the man announces his new plan to rid the world of Islam or peanut butter or spats and BAM! Full media attention.
So what happens when the Ku Klux Klan endorses Donald Trump? Both he AND the Klan got a popularity boost.
Now, I’m not here to tell you what to do about Donald Trump. That’s for the nation to decide, and I trust it’ll choose wisely. What I am here to do is tell you how to treat the Klan.
The KKK of today is a pitiful shadow of its former self. A century and a half ago, they were a political movement that opposed Reconstruction; they burned out and died, smothered by their own founders. Much later, they were resurrected; they marched on Washington, lynched Freedom Riders, and burned crosses. Today, they are a tiny hate group — more powerful than any lone gunman, but still more to be pitied than feared.
They say, “You can’t fight fire with fire,” but actually you can. Forest fires and wildfires are often controlled and directed by careful and targeted counterfires. The key, of course, lies in the words “careful” and “targeted”; when all the local firefighters are fully occupied, it’s a bad time to light fires at random.
Likewise, the opposition for groups like the KKK ought to be careful. They use hatred and intolerance; they should be opposed directly with counterfire when practicable (punitive laws against certain hate crimes, perhaps) and indirectly with more appropriate weapons like ridicule, and yes, pity.
For example: Did you know that the Westboro Baptist Church has 4o members, most of whom are related to deceased founder Fred Phelps? They are effectively, though perhaps not technically, a group of blackmailers masquerading as a religious group. Curiously, they are supported primarily by the attention they garner; their protests are, I’m told, often funded by opposition groups and occasionally by those they protest. (In fairness, they claim to be self-funded; the preceding may be scurrilous gossip. But I doubt it.)
Speaking personally, I would feel extremely proud to be protested by the WBC. I’d post pictures on Facebook and throw a party. I’d invite The Onion to do a story about me: “Local Man Succeeds At Being A Good Person”. Anything I could do to open them up to public ridicule, I would. And the last thing I’d do is treat them seriously.
The modern Klan is likewise weak, though with greater numbers than the WBC. Membership in the White Knights (a militant subgroup) is somewhere around 100, many of whom can’t travel, and some of whom are likely FBI informants. The “Grand Wizard” retired and there is very little central organization left. So when the Ku Klux Klan announces they’re endorsing a candidate, what that really means is: “This guy who claims to speak for a couple hundred armed rednecks approves.”
Bottom line is, when the Klan makes an announcement, we should either ridicule the event or ignore it entirely. It’s not newsworthy, and acknowledging them in any way lends them validity to which they have no right.