Why is the KKK on a push for new members now, of all times?
Good news for First Amendment fans: America’s oldest and most famous domestic terrorist organization is once again serving as a test case for how much we’re willing to tolerate in the name of free speech. The KKK is distributing flyers to people’s yards offering them the chance to join up and look like complete assholes. The Newton Citizen reports:
“The Newton County Sheriff’s Office is currently monitoring the situation … the fliers are being reviewed to make sure they don’t contain any inappropriate information or threats,” Morrison said. “As far as we know, there are no active KKK chapters in Newton County and these fliers seem to be based out of North Carolina.”
Morrison said the Sheriff’s Office had recovered three other versions of the flier — one that reads, “Help Save Our Race” and shows a klansman in front of a Confederate flag; one with a klansman on a horse with a torch; and another one with a klansman on a horse holding up a cross that reads, “White Pride = White Power.” All have the same contact number and website reference.
It’s awfully interesting that after years of decline and irrelevance, the KKK is on a recruitment drive now. Historically, there’ve been three waves of Klan activity, one after the Civil War, one after WWI, and one after WWII. Not coincidentally, all three of these periods coincided with increased rights and respect for minorities, especially African-Americans.
There’s always going to be a percentage of folks with privilege who imagine, on some level, that freedom is a zero-sum game. They think, in an unexamined sort of way, that someone else getting more freedom must mean that they, the privileged, now have less. It sounds silly, but we still have people who imagine that their own marriage is threatened by other people getting married, and that logic doesn’t make sense under anything but a zero-sum model.
That’s the model the KKK has built its past successes on: the idea that if someone other than white Protestants was being treated less badly, that must obviously constitute a threat to white Protestants. So why now? What’s going on that might make KKK-eligible folks think that, for example, “their country is being taken away” or “they don’t recognize America any more” or “their country’s been stolen”?