Last week CNN sparked a backlash with its headline, “Can the Klan Rebrand?” Their story was a look at the Ku Klux Klan’s efforts to distance itself from its reputation as a violence-inciting hate group in the wake of former Klan Grand Dragon Frazier Glenn Miller being charged in a shooting spree that left three people at two Jewish community centers dead.
Apparently, having a high-profile hate murderer affiliated with one’s group can put a damper on your image.
But Miller isn’t the only one keeping the Klan in the news. It was just announced that a Klan chapter in Fairview Township, Pa., has launched a neighborhood watch. I guess they think that if George Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon Martin has taught us anything, it’s that we actually need more people who buy into dangerous racial stereotypes patrolling neighborhoods in a quest to keep them “safe.”
A few weeks ago, the Klan began leafleting other neighborhoods in Pennsylvania, as well as Texas, Illinois and Louisiana, with fliers intended to recruit new members.
On Easter Sunday another incident believed to be the work of hate groups made the news. During an Easter egg hunt, residents of Henrico County, Va., discovered Easter eggs filled with racist messages. Among them, “Diversity = white genocide” and “Mass immigration and forced assimilation of nonwhites into our lands is genocide.”
Though the Klan has not specifically been linked to the egg incident, the message being perpetuated by it is certainly one the Klan would likely appreciate, which is this: America is becoming unlivable for those who yearn for the America of yesterday. An America that didn’t have a black president—and not just black, but one who is the product of a relationship between a black man and a white woman. And an America in which minorities are rapidly becoming the majority.
In 2012 I interviewed Gordon Baum, longtime head of the white supremacist group Council of Conservative Citizens. During one interview he expressed concern about the fact that white babies no longer made up the majority of babies being born, noting at the time, “Well, we’ve been warning about that.” He added: “Do we want to see our country become more like where these people [racial minorities] are from or not? Now that’s a quantitative judgment. And we as an organization prefer to see it remain as it was … when Europeans had America.”
Perhaps he’s never heard of Native Americans—but I digress.
Baum was certainly not alone in his thinking. As I later wrote for The Root, white supremacist sites were overwhelmed with traffic in the days following President Barack Obama’s election.
Which is why I believe these latest efforts by the Klan, as disheartening as they are, really could be a good sign.