Ku Klux Klan

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InterestsWhite Supremacy

The Ku Klux Klan commonly called the KKK or the Klan, is an American white supremacist "hate group"[1] that was founded in 1865. The Klan has existed in three distinct eras at different points in time during the history of the United States. Each has advocated extremist reactionary positions such as White Supremacy, white nationalism, anti-immigration and "Nordicism"[2] and anti-Catholicism.[3]

Historically, the KKK used terrorism - both physical assault and murder - against groups or individuals whom they opposed.[4] All three movements have called for the "purification" of American society and all are considered far right extremist organisations.[5] In each era, membership was secret and estimates of the total were highly exaggerated by both friends and enemies.[6][7][8]

KKK 'rules the White House'

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, interviewed by the BBC's Orla Guerin on 12 February 2019, was asked if he really thought the Ku Klux Klan was ruling America:

Maduro: "I believe that the extremist sector of the white supremacists of the Ku Klux Klan lead the United States. I believe it's a gang of extremists."
Guerin: "Are you calling President Trump a white supremacist?"
Maduro: "He is, publicly and openly, and he has stimulated the fascist tendencies - neo-fascists, neo-Nazis - within the United States, in Europe, in Latin America.[9]
"It's an extremist sector that hates the world. They hate us Latin Americans, Central Americans, Mexicans, Venezuelans. They hate us, they belittle us, they hate the entire world, because they only believe in their own interests, and in the interests of the United States. So in this battle that we are leading for Venezuela, I tell you, it's a battle that goes beyond our country, the battle to respond. Look at this: Donald Trump threatened us with a military invasion, just a few days ago. He said he was going to send the United States army into Venezuela.
"Why? What is the reason, the pretext, the motive to declare war against Venezuela, which is a peaceful country? I call upon the people of the world, to wake up, open your eyes, to see that it is an aggression against the peaceful country. That Venezuela has problems like many other countries in the world, but only in peace can we solve our problems. And if you really want to help Venezuela, you have to support peace.
"Say no to the intervention, tell the United States, hands off Venezuela, and support Venezuela in its own efforts to resolve its own problems through dialogue."[10]

The Klan's roots

The end of the American Civil War left conditions in the south ripe for dissent. By 1868 the Ku Klux Klan had become a national force and the KKK's reign of terror had scared black men away from voting booths and hounded them from office. But as Klan violence intensified the Enforcement Acts of 1870 and 1871 protected black men’s right to vote and hold positions of authority, while allowing perpetrators of racial violence to be prosecuted.

The Klan’s influence was dramatically reduced by the laws and by 1872, Klan violence had ended. But in 1905 a man of Scots descent reignited racial tension with the publication of a novel. Thomas Dixon, the son of a Scots minister and plantation owner, wrote "The Clansman: A Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan", which was set in a time where whites are enslaved and black men are in charge.

Dixon drew from his Scots heritage by introducing the idea of the burning cross as a symbol of the Klan, even though it had never before been associated with the group. He based it on the Crann Tara, a fiery cross which had been a traditional means of calling Scottish clans to arms.

In 1915 the tale was adapted for film and released as "The Birth of a Nation". Dixon’s idea of the Klan as heroic saviours of the south met a much larger audience, sparking outbreaks of violence and prompting a new wave of Klan activity. This time the group broadened its goals beyond the rights of black people to also target Jews, Catholics and immigrants.

At its peak in 1925 Klan membership swelled to at least two million and the secretive Klansmen infiltrated and corrupted public office across the country.

However, the combination of a public outrage, scandals and the Great Depression in the 1930s saw membership fall dramatically. The Klan disbanded in the 1940s, but racial hatred continued to simmer.[11]



References

  1. "Ku Klux Klan"
  2. Petersen, William. Against the Stream: Reflections of an Unconventional Demographer. Transaction Publishers. p. 89. ISBN 9781412816663. Retrieved May 8, 2016.

    Template-specific style sheet:

  3. Pratt Guterl, Matthew (2009). The Color of Race in America, 1900-1940. Harvard University Press. p. 42. ISBN 9780674038059.

    Template-specific style sheet:

  4. O'Donnell, Patrick (Editor), 2006. Ku Klux Klan America's First Terrorists Exposed, p. 210. ISBN 1-4196-4978-7.
  5. Rory McVeigh, The Rise of the Ku Klux Klan: Right-Wing Movements and National Politics (2009).
  6. Matthew N. Lyons, Right-Wing Populism in America (2000), ch. 3, 5, 13.
  7. Chalmers, David Mark, 2003. Backfire: How the Ku Klux Klan Helped the Civil Rights Movement, p. 163. ISBN 978-0-7425-2311-1.
  8. Charles Quarles, 1999. The Ku Klux Klan and Related American Racialist and Antisemitic Organisations: A History and Analysis, p. 100. McFarland.
  9. "Maduro calls Trump white supremacist, says KKK 'rules the White House'"
  10. "Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro interview: Full transcript"
  11. "Were Scots responsible for the Ku Klux Klan?"
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