The KKK Doesn't Want You to Say What They Are

December 12th 2016

Members of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan don't want to be called white supremacists, or so some of them claimed at a rally this month in honor of President-elect Donald Trump.

"We're not white supremacists. We believe in our race," one unnamed, hooded man told the Associated Press before a pro-Trump parade in North Carolina earlier this month.. 


ATTN: previously reported that the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, a North Carolina branch of the organization, planned a Dec. 3 celebration for the president-elect. The chapter's website has a section aimed at "debunking" the idea that the KKK is a hate group. Rather, it claims, the KKK merely hates "some things that certain groups are doing to our race and our nation," including "drugs, homosexuality, abortion and race-mixing." 

Website says it's not a "hate group." The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan - kkkknights.com

An investigation by the AP's Jay Reeves found that members of far-right groups like the KKK do not like to be called white supremacists, despite the fact that the basis of these groups are based on and celebrate white supremacy.

"KKK groups today typically renounce the term," Reeves noted. "The same goes for extremists including members of the self-proclaimed 'alt-right,' an extreme branch of conservatism mixing racism, white nationalism and populism."

To be clear, the KKK is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of the oldest hate groups in the U.S., and the group has a long history of violent attacks against blacks, Jews, Catholics, and many others, especially immigrants, stretching back to the 19th century. 

So why does the KKK reject the term "white supremacist"?

kkk-flyerFacebook/Joe Leschner - facebook.com

ATTN: spoke to KKK expert David Cunningham, a professor of sociology at Washington University in St. Louis, over email about the Klan's rejection of its most fitting label.

Cunningham, author of "Klansville, U.S.A.: The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux," said the Klan is trying to infiltrate the mainstream.

"This just the latest incarnation of an old argument by the KKK and other like-minded groups," he said. "Throughout the civil rights era, Klan leaders would regularly complain that 'everyone's organized except the white Protestant,' and claim that the KKK was a sort of advocacy group just like the NAACP or B'nai B'rith."

However Cunningham said that the Klan's history and consistent rhetoric clearly show that it is a white supremacist organization. 

"As then, one would be hard-pressed to argue that the claim that the Klan is merely supporting and valuing white identity has any merit when placed alongside the group's history of racial terror and the bulk of its racist rhetoric, which clearly places whites above other racial groups," he said. 

But could the KKK's media strategy work?

kkk-newspaperTwitter/@billygee12 - twitter.com

As we get closer to Trump's inauguration, the KKK and other extremist groups are seeking to exploit the "Make America Great Again" appeal of the Republican billionaire's campaign. 

The KKK is nowhere near as influential as it was in the 1920s, but the Southern Poverty Law Center estimated in February that there are between 5,000 and 8,000 members in the U.S. today. A recent report from George Washington University also found that white nationalists are now more active on Twitter than the Islamic State, their numbers growing by more than 600 percent since 2012. 

It's possible to be racist and not believe you're a racist. 

ATTN: previously reported on the reality of modern racism. Although many Americans would reject the KKK's blatant racist ideology, racism often manifests itself more subtly.

P.J. Hnery, a social psychology professor at New York University, wrote about modern racism in a 2010 paper.

"It is characterized by beliefs that racism is not a continuing problem, that African-Americans should not put forth their own efforts to overcome their situation in society without special assistance, and that African-Americans are too demanding and have gotten more than they deserve." he wrote. 

RELATED: Chart Reveals the Problem With the Definition of Racism

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