You May Have Heard That the KKK Is Now Accepting Black Members. Here's What Is Actually Happening.

A multicultural Klan?


Here is a misleading headline in the International Business Times:


Similar stories, with similar errors, have appeared in The Daily Mail, The Daily Mirror, The Huffington Post, and other outlets.

The IMDb's description:
SGS Productions

What you need to understand here is that there are bunch of different organizations out there that call themselves the Ku Klux Klan. None of them is "the" organization, and none of them is directly descended from the original Klan, which died out over a century ago. Anyone can buy some sheets and set up shop as a Klan, but he won't be speaking for anybody but himself and whoever he can convince to join him.

In this case John Abarr, a Montana Klansman who claims to have given up the idea of white supremacy, has created yet another KKK grouplet. It's called the Rocky Mountain Knights, and he says he's opening its doors to minorities. There are no signs that any have actually joined. (This is not, I should add, just a case of white separatists trying to cooperate with black separatists. That's a phenomenon with a long history, but it does not generally entail inviting African Americans into the klavern.)

Needless to say, if Abarr really has given up on the Klan's core ideology, it would make more sense to throw away the brand name and call his club something else. But I suppose he thinks this will get the group publicity, and evidently he's right.

The IBT report wavers back and forth when it comes to recognizing that this is one oddball's effort and not a general move toward a tolerant, cuddly Klan. It mentions that the Rocky Mountain Knights are a "new KKK group," and it quotes another Klansman dismissing Abarr's project. But it describes that critic as coming from "the more traditional elements of the organisation," as though they were all paying dues to the same coffers.

If nothing else, this is an interesting inversion of a dynamic that the far right saw in the '90s, when the militia movement came to prominence. The militias tended to focus on issues such as gun control and paramilitary law enforcement, not on policing racial boundaries, and many militiamen were overtly hostile to white supremacists. While some racists returned the disdain, others tried to enter the movement by forming militia groups of their own. If Abarr is sincere about his ideological conversion—and that's a big if—then this is basically the same process happening in reverse.

I don't expect it to go far, though, because I can't imagine many anti-racists would be interested in adopting the Klan brand name.

Bonus link: For an interesting case in the '30s of some people who did use the Klan's brand name for rather different purposes, even inviting some nonwhites into the fold, check out this story from Studs Terkel's Hard Times, in which a West Virginia Klan with two black members staked out a militant position in labor's battles with the coal companies.

Another bonus link: I explored the Klan's history in this piece from 2005.

[Via Corey Robin.]

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  1. Dave Chappelle was on to this YEARS ago.

    1. “If you have hate in your heart, let it out!”

      1. I’m glad it’s not huge in syndication, because every single time I see a commercial for Will & Grace I think, “If you don’t like Will & Grace it don’t mean there’s something wrong with you, means there’s something wrong with Will! He’s a homosexual.”

    2. Dave Chappelle was on to this YEARS ago.

      Cleavon Little had done the bit (twice) and quit the game at least a decade before anyone knew who Dave Chapppelle was.

  2. “there are bunch of different organizations out there that call themselves the Ku Klux Klan. None of them is “the” organization”

    Ohio State University?

    1. Not officially an offshoot of the Klan.

    2. No true scots-man klans-man

  3. Does anybody else kinda miss the militia movement? Seems like a bunch of well armed, somewhat trained groups who are suspicious of government would be a good thing to have around.

    1. +1 Hutaree

    2. They’re still around; they get a boost in membership each time a Democrat is elected president, so right now they’re resurgent.

      The press just realized that militias are basically clubs for paleocons and stopped playing them up as domestic terrorists. They’ll return to the subject in a decade or two once they’ve moved through the next couple of panic cycles.

      1. “They’re still around; they get a boost in membership each time a Democrat is elected president, so right now they’re resurgent.”

        And you know this how? Are you in law enforcement?

        1. Odd question. Presumably you’re aware that being a militia member isn’t illegal and they have no reason to hide their membership numbers.

          1. And I recommend wikipedia if you’d like a quick means of determining sources for this or that.

            1. Um,this apparently comes as a great surprise to you, but no one over the age of 13 or so uses Wikipedia as a reputable source.
              As far as “hiding” membership numbers,I wasn’t aware that they kept careful records on paper, and reported them to anyone. I’ve been in law enforcement for years and I am very curious as to how you could possibly know that the membership numbers are of organizations that don’t exactly report their numbers.

              1. Untrue. Wikipedia includes a massive number of primary sources–I recommend that you search it for the topic you’re ignorant of, then follow the sources for more information. Preferably not on the taxpayer’s–that’s me–dime

                I’ve been in law enforcement for years

                No need to tell me so; I could already tell you were a massive asshole.

                1. I frankly could not care less what you recommend. Frankly, if I used “Wikipedia” as a source in any of my research papers (I am working on several), I would receive a failing grade. In fact, in the case of at least one syllabus, it’s explicitly stated.
                  And why would your dime have anything to do with this? I don’t remember taking any of your dimes, taxes or not.

                  And another thing– I always find that those who insult others online anonymously turn out to be “massive” cowards– they type a lot online, hiding behind their computer, that they’d never dream of saying in person. Just sayin, as the young people today like to say.

                  1. Oh please.

                    If you look at the bottom of each topic or entry, there are plenty of sourced material. It’s not as worthless as you let on. Plenty of people experts in their fields contribute on a given topic.

                    For example, I’m an amateur soccer historian (and have a History degree) and I’ve not come across soccer entries that had any glaring errors.

                    Sure there are entries that need work but Wiki makes not of it.

                    1. He doesn’t use Wilipedia as a source (or as a place to locate primary sources) because he will receive a failing grade for doing so. So he is being compliant. Just as we should so when we are given orders. Like Eric Garner. Incidentally, Wikipedia does not include the PoliceOne version of the Eric Garner murder. Additional motivation for him to avoid this.

                  2. Are you a hero like Dunphy ?

                2. No need to tell me so; I could already tell you were a massive asshole.

                  Given his ability to read what you said and use Wikipedia at a level greater than a 13-yr.-old, I’d add that you forgot incompetent.

  4. I just assumed they were getting back to their roots of hating Catholics.

    1. And Jews. Can’t forget to hate the Jews…

      1. No one ever forgets to hate teh JOOZ.

        1. Thanks to SimonJester for the reminder (below):

          Oh the Protestants hate the Catholics
          And the Catholics hate the Protestants
          The Hindus hate the Muslims
          And everybody hates the Jews

          Tom Lehrer, “National Brotherhood Week”

      2. Hatred of “The Jews” was primarily a 20th century, Nazi-related phenomenon. I’m something of an amateur student of history, and I’ll give you a quick quiz– Guess what government was the very FIRST government to put a Jew into its cabinet? You probably didn’t guess– The Confederate States of America. He was Attorney General, Secretary of War, and Secretary of State for the Confederacy, and was apparently highly regarded.

        1. oops I left out his name- Judah Benjamin.

          1. Was he before any jews in the British cabinet? I know that there were joews, or at least one Jewish financier, heavily involved in the Logistics effort against Napoleon. What I don’t know is how official it was.


            1. England was a monarchy… so it didn’t have a cabinet. I am defining cabinet as part of a democratic political system, as in, a President’s cabinet.

        2. You forgot he was also a slaveholder.

          1. Nope, didn’t forget that. Irrelevant to what I posted.

        3. The really impressive thing is that they managed to find a Jew in the antebellum South at all.

          Outside of the nativism that was par for the course among all progressives (see public schools as a means of eliminating Catholic/drinking immigrant cultures at the turn of the century) the Old and Deep Souths didn’t harbor any unique hatred for Jews or Catholics, mainly because there weren’t many around in most of the South. The anti-Catholic stuff was present mainly in places where those immigrants were common, which wasn’t the dirt-poor, post-Reconstruction South.

          1. No, there were quite a few Jews in the “antebellum South”…
            Like I said, the anti-Jewish strain of the “Klan” (which really had nothing to do with the original Klan of the 1860s) was a 20th-century invention. In fact, the Klan as it’s known today is a 20th century invention… and, since a lot of 20th century Klan members, circa 1910s, 1920s etc, if not the majority of them, were Northerners.

            1. I hate that this doesn’t let you edit. My last sentence should have read “Since a lot of the 20th century Klan members, if not the majority of them, were Northerners, it had about nothing to do with the actual Confederacy.”

            2. No, there were quite a few Jews in the “antebellum South”…


              Pretty fascinating; looks like you’re right.

            3. I was researching the rebel yell, and found a story about a Jewish officer in the confederate army who would let out the rebel yell at various events.

              (post war.)

  5. “How many times have I told you to wash your hands after them cross-burnin’s?”

    1. *flips hand* see it’s coming off.

    2. “For my next impression: Jesse Owens!”

  6. Oh, the white folks hate the black folks,
    And the black folks hate the white folks.
    To hate all but the right folks
    Is an old established rule.

    But during National Brotherhood Week, National Brotherhood Week,
    Lena Horne and Sheriff Clarke are dancing cheek to cheek.
    It’s fun to eulogize
    The people you despise,
    As long as you don’t let ’em in your school.


  7. Maybe Botard can come along and burn us all with how reasonoids don’t hate on TEAM RED enough. And burn me, personally, by dropping the uber-clever “Almaniantard”.

    Can Bo come out and play, Missus Tard?

    1. *Lights the Bo signal*

    2. Ah, but you don’t understand, Almanian! The particular branch of the KKK being mocked here is a racially diversified and multi-cultural branch. So, it’s clear, that it’s not a TEAM RED institution, but a TEAM BLUE one. And, far from attacking TEAM RED, you’re just all up to your nasty old Republican-supporting ways.

      1. That made absolutely no sense. Translation?

        1. There is a lot of commentary history in this post.

          That’s all the explanation I have the energy for.

  8. What you need to understand here is that there are bunch of different organizations out there that call themselves the Ku Klux Klan

    Splitters! /sarc

  9. It sounds as if Abarr is just taking the Klan back to its roots, which was anybody with some white bedsheets and a grievance would claim to be the KKK and terrorize the county.

    Of course, most of the people with white bedsheets and grievances happened to be white and Democrat.

  10. So they want to keep the name and the rituals but discard all the doctrines? They’re the Episcopalians of the hooded set.

  11. Jesse, why do you have to spoil all the fun?

    Does anyone really give a shit if the KKK is accepting black members? No.
    This is all about the funny, ok? Stop being a party pooper.

  12. You know who else joined a race supremacist organization?

    1. Ronald Reagan?

    2. Famous Liberal Democrat Robert C Byrd. Did I guess right? 😉

    3. Lieutenant Worf?

    4. Harry Truman.

      Actually, a Democrat from Missouri, joining the Klan in the 20s was basically the equivalent of a New York Republican joining the Rotary Club.

      Funny thing is that he returned the membership fee when he found out that he could lose the Catholic vote which was a big thing in Kansas City politics.

  13. Two chapters that have already sprung up are The Black Knights and The Knight Riders.

  14. I am a very long time lurker. I generally enjoy Reason, but I feel that this article makes one huge assumption that I can’t stand by. The author stated “none of them is directly descended from the original Klan, which died out over a century ago”. Now while these new groups very well may have nothing to do with the old Klan, I can say for a fact that the old Klan didn’t die out completely. It went underground. I say this as a person from the rural south who knows of places where there is active recruitment/ persons being recruited. There are areas where traditions have been passed down from family member to member for several decades, keeping the true spirit alive.

    1. The KKK has died several times; the paramilitary, racist sentiments behind it haven’t, so new organizations bearing the name keep popping up.

      Like al-Qaeda, the KKK is a brand that quickly identifies to people what you’re all about. That doesn’t mean that the central organization that existed immediately following the war has survived.

    2. The first klan was a bunch of Southern would-be aristicrats down on their luck diring Reconstruction, ne? Operations under Grant (both before and during his Presidency, as I recall) basically chased them so far back into the Hills they had tomship in daylight.

      The Second Klan manifested in the 1920’s, and had the same degree of conecction to the original that the Masons have always had to the Egyptian pyramid builders – a claim and damn all for evidence.

      The third Klan is what we have now; a scattering of small organisations that may or may not have semi-legitimate claims to descending from the second bunch.

      The Liberal Left has trouble keeping the history(s) of the Klan(s) straight for a number of reasons. They don’t like dealing with the demonstrable fact that the Second and Third Klans had strong connections to the Southern Democrats right up until the 1980s, if not longer. They don’t like admitting that Grant did anything right, other than fight the Civil War (and they do teir best to ignore the Civil War if you let them). And they have a hard time letting go of their fantasy that the third Klan is some monolithic conspiracy with heavy ties to the Republicans.

      1. I’m not sure if I would characterize the first Klan as “aristocrats”… Nathan Bedford Forest was born dirt-poor, and was a self-made man… and I don’t think Grant was very successful are “chasing” them anywhere… In fact, I think they mainly disappeared because they met their goals– the Federal troops left and the tyrannical “Reconstruction” methods were repealed– hence, little reason to remain as an active group.
        I do agree with you that the Liberals always claim that GOP = Klan, Klan = GOP. As a Latino conservative myself, I find that laughable.

        1. “I do agree with you that the Liberals always claim that GOP = Klan, Klan = GOP. ”

          Yes, they do. And when you correct them with evidence that the KKK was far more closely aligned with Democratic politics, they always respond with the non-evidence based claim that “all” the racists left the Democratic party and became Republicans during the Reagan years. It’s all nonsensical, but there you go.

        2. The idea that the first Klan was made up of “gentlemen” or “aristocrats” was promoted in Gone with the Wind. Of course so was the romanticized notion of the antebellum South as a paradise of wise and gentle slaveowners and contented “darkies”.

          I’m sure both were popular myths before that though. Margaret Mitchell could hardly have created them out of whole cloth. They were probably things she had heard her whole life.

          1. The key was WOULD-BE aristocrats.

            They wanted to be Landed Gentry.

          2. I had older relatives who related that same story. To them, the KKK was a general societal enforcer in the early 20th century whose role was to threaten deadbeats and anyone who stepped outside the boundaries of polite society, insofar as progressive, racist, nativist prohibitionists were considered polite.

            The interesting thing for this lil ole libertarian is that the version of the KKK they were talking about is fundamentally a relic of the Teddy Roosevelt/Wilsonian peak of the Progressive movement.

            They were fundamentally nativist (anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant) at a time when public schools were being advocated for the explicit purpose of destroying immigrant culture (see melting pot, the, as explicit a metaphor for progressive destruction of immigrant culture as one could imagine) and strongly prohibitionist. So the idea of them meddling in their neighbors’ affairs or using paramilitary tactics to punish people for violating social norms makes a lot of sense as we deal with their ideological progeny 100 years later, as does Wilson’s purported (and characteristic) support of them.

        3. That’s certainly the narrative, but as I said there has been a concerted effort to depict Grant as a boffoon. The withdrawl of troops was slightly, if only sligtly.

          1. Slightly LATER.


            I love my tablet, but I’m prone enought to horrible typing on a real keyboard. A virtual keyboard is compounding the problem.

            How anybody types on a PHONE baffles me.

  15. Back when I first graduated from law school I worked in the public defender’s office for a short while. One of my first clients was a member of the Aryan Hand who while imprisoned was accused of killing a member of the Aryan Fist. You’d think they’d make natural allies but apparently there were some very deeply held convictions the two groups couldn’t reconcile.

    1. I think that dignifies them beyond their deserts. These White Supremacy groups are like Biker gangs; they may talk a lot of idiological swill, but at base they just like to fight.

      1. Well, I’m not sure if “liking to fight” is necessarily a bad thing. Having served in the Marine Corps, I can say that Marine Corps members like to fight, to a man. If I’m going to criticize an organization I’m not going to use a liking of fighting as a pejorative…

        1. Yeah, but good Marines know when NOT to fight.

    2. Well, centuries worth of bloodshed in the Middle East can be traced to a political dispute over which relative of Muhammed should have been elevated to caliph of the Muslim Empire… so your case is not very surprising.

      1. Well, it can be traced even further back than that– to Mohammed and his doctrines themselves. If he and his religion/doctrine had never existed, neither would the Sunni/Shia split. That’s a little like saying that all bloodshed in Europe can be traced back to Martin Luther’s Reformation, forgetting that without the Church itself, no Protestant/Catholic strife would have ever existed.

    3. Hand over Fist.

    4. Brian: We should be rising up against a common enemy.

      All: The Judean People’s Front!

      Brian: No, the Romans.

  16. Is the word “Knights” officially a reference to the clan now, and if so why do the “Knights of Columbus” get to use it?

  17. my classmate’s step-aunt makes $87 every hour on the internet . She has been unemployed for six months but last month her payment was $17264 just working on the internet for a few hours. you can look here…..

    ?????? http://www.payinsider.com

  18. Join the KKK and become rich and proud knight. enjoy unlimited riches, power and protection. fear no more as we are ready to make the world your very own. we are happy to drag out a way to add more members and bless them with every of their needs all round the world. Millions of dollars, houses, cars, companies are own by our members who registered as a kuk lux klan (KKK) we are always there to protect our brothers, no fear, we have our own right. join today and be a proud white/black email us for registration: register.kukluxklan@gmail.com

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