Extreme Makeover: KKK Hangs Up the White Sheets?

The hate group says that it now prefers hosting political parties over lynch parties.

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Karin Zeitvogel/AFP/Getty Images

If African Americans ever needed another reason to be politically engaged, here's one: The Ku Klux Klan says it's giving up cross burnings in favor of the ballot box.

Pastor Travis Pierce, national membership director for the Ku Klux Klan, LLC, told the Huffington Post's Lucas Kavner that protests and violence are a thing of the past. While the KKK remains committed to defending the rights of white people and preaching against gays, its agenda is better served by lobbying elected officials, Pierce said.

"Even with the best speeches we can come up with, all we get are protesters and thugs who try to drown out our message," Pierce said. "So we want to take our agenda directly to those who can make something happen. We've hired attorneys, and we can take it directly to the government."

Despite its protestations to the contrary, the KKK is the same murderous, hatemongering group it has been for some 150 years, human rights advocates say.

Travis McAdam, the executive director of the Montana Human Rights Network, is skeptical that anything has changed at all, explaining that this re-focusing of the KKK is nothing new. They've been trying to do this for years, McAdam says, tracing efforts all the way back to famed KKK-leader and politician David Duke and his campaigns for public office in the late 1980s.

"The fundamental ideology of these groups never changes, and they keep the Klan banner because they're proud of it," McAdam said. "They're proud of the history of the organization and what it's done in the past. People like [Duke] tried to give it a different spin, but it's still the same Klan."

Hate groups often play "rhetorical games" with their outreach, McAdam said -- publicly deploring violence, but encouraging it behind closed doors. "It's a public relations effort. They clean themselves up and present themselves as something much less offensive."

Can a leopard change its spots? We think not.

Read more at the Huffington Post.