Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Liberal Schadenfreude and "A Day in the Life of the Ku Klux Klan Uncensored"


The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was one of the largest and most respected, civil society organizations in the history of the United States during the height of its reign and influence during the 1920s. White men of the professional classes--doctors, lawyers, teachers, and others--were members. The Klan had women's and children's auxiliary groups. A President of the United States was rumored to have taken his oath of allegiance to the Klan while, quite literally, in the White House.

The Ku Klux Klan also led one of the largest public gatherings in United States' history when they convened a march of between 50-60,000 people in Washington D.C. in the year 1925.

At present, the "respectable" members of the Klan must be looking down in shame and horror at the caricature, backwood, "poor white trash" figures who pass for the "day-to-day" life of the KKK, as featured by the news website and online magazine Slate.

And there must also be an irresistible temptation for anti-racists, liberals, progressives, and other reasonable folks to mock and laugh at how low the Ku Klux Klan has fallen in post-civil rights America: this is understandable given how the white people depicted in Slate's recent story about Anthony Karen's work with the KKK are a better fit as the rub of a joke in the TV show Family Guy, than as the 21st century faces of the largest and most dangerous domestic terrorist organization in the history of the United States of America.

Images of white racists shooting roaches with guns, getting married in self-made Klan regalia, or eating fattening diabetes-causing food at a historic Civil War battle site are rich in comedic potential. Laugh if you would like.


But, do not forget that the KKK chose its uniforms to scare freed blacks as the original walking dead, Confederate ghosts who wander the terrestrial plane, forever seeking revenge on those who "betrayed" the Southern cause.

The Ku Klux Klan killed many thousands of people; they were not day traders or amateurs; the KKK was "murder incorporated", helping to enforce a regime of racial terrorism throughout the United States.

White supremacy is a ghost too--one that is very crafty and illusive.

At present, racism is institutional (and not primarily inter-personal).

Cartoonish images of a broken, poor, backwoods, and anachronistic Ku Klux Klan are perfect for a country where a black man is president and racism is "color blind." Thus, a defeated KKK is a stand-in for the vanquishing of racism. The simplicity and shortsightedness of such an understanding ironically does the work of white supremacy in post-civil rights America, as opposed to being a triumphant moment when we can write an epitaph for White racism.

White supremacy remains one of the dominant ideologies in the United States. Its power is manifest in many ways.

So called "stand your ground" laws are racially discriminatory and in practice legitimate the extrajudicial murder of people of color by whites.

The prison industrial complex is, as Michelle Alexander has so sharply described it, "the New Jim Crow."

The Great Recession has disproportionately destroyed the wealth and income of African-Americans and other people of color. Moreover, racist lending practices wherein banks and other financiers charged higher interest rates for people of color with the same or better credit scores and resources than white borrowers.

Racism compounded with the greed of the banksters to create a double insult and violation for people of color that has further hampered the nation's recovery from the Great Recession.

The police racially profile and practice collective punishment in poor black and brown communities.

Employers continue to discriminate against African-American applicants because of their "black names".

Voting rights that were won with blood are being assaulted and rolled back by the Tea Party GOP.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has documented a rapid increase in the number of White identity organizations, White hate groups, and militias since the election of Barack Obama. There have also been a record number of threats against the life of the country's first black president.

Shadenfreude--what is the mocking and enjoyment at the earned failure of others--towards the Ku Klux Klan makes its detractors feel good, as the Kluxers are certainly most deserving of the condemnation of history and whatever misfortune and bad luck befalls them. However, focusing on those members of the KKK who chose to be featured in a less than flattering pictorial essay is a distraction, a magic trick, and the "Three Card Monte" of race and equality in post-civil rights America.

The Ku Klux Klan is an obsolescent political organization: it is unnecessary when the Republican Party is the United States' de facto party of White Identity and White political interests.

Americans must also be weary of stereotypical white racism as depicted in David Rosenberg's story about the KKK in the Age of Obama. Why? Because in a chess match a player should immediately be suspicious when they are given exactly what they want--and expect to see--from their opponent.

Working with that analogy, I am less worried about the sad soul Ku Klux Klan members in Slate's feature than I am about those others with like racist allegiances who work as police, attorneys, doctors, bankers, teachers, researchers, real estate agents, in the military and government, or as scientists. The latter group have and do impact the lives of their racial enemies everyday in the United States. They find cover behind the easily and readily identifiable white supremacists who wear white sheets and allow themselves to be interviewed by the press.

Mock the white people in "A Day in the Life of the Ku Klux Klan Uncensored" at your own peril. They are racist killers both in their dreaming and in practice.

10 comments:

Ish said...

"Cartoonish images of a broken, poor, backwoods, and anachronistic Ku
Klux Klan are perfect for a country where a black man is president and
racism is "color blind." Thus, a defeated KKK is a stand-in for the
vanquishing of racism. The simplicity and shortsightedness of such an
understanding ironically does the work of white supremacy in post-civil
rights America, as opposed to being a triumphant moment when we can
write an epitaph for White racism.



White supremacy remains one of the dominant ideologies in the United States. Its power is manifest in many ways."


Very well said. Facebooked.

chauncey devega said...

Thanks. The story is actually very problematic and fills the trope of look at those beaten pathetic racists over there. Very self-validating but takes the eye off the real game.

Wavenstein said...

Tricknology is a hell of a drug Chauncey. Stereotypical, caricaturized racism is a weapon being used by contemporary white supremacist to avert our gaze from the institutional racism that is truly at the heart of our problems. The Klan is of no significance to me at this point in time. I worry of the police and the racist asshole who's going to google my address on my resume/application and then throw it away once they see that I live in a black neighborhood (I have a white sounding name so that's not an issue). The Klan couldn't be any less relevant to the issues currently facing black people.

chauncey devega said...

There you go. Folks want the obvious low hanging fruit but don't see the bigger picture.

Cavoyo said...

I find it interesting that the first picture has a Dora the Explorer toy. To me, it seems incongruous with the family's ideals. I wonder how the family interprets Dora. Has anyone, at least the little girl, become more tolerant because of exposure to Dora the Explorer? Did the little girl specifically ask for the toy, much to the dismay of her parents? Do they see Dora as not much different from the watermelon-eating black girl in the upper right, as a joke? Do they refer to her using racial slurs?

Another thing to think about: a part of the reason the Klan is so weak today is because of infiltration by the FBI. The same FBI that infiltrated many civil rights and black nationalist organizations.

Werner Herzog's Bear said...

"Working with that analogy, I am less worried about the sad soul Ku Klux Klan members in Slate's feature than I am about those others with like racist allegiances who work as police, attorneys, doctors, bankers, teachers, researchers, real estate agents, in the military and government, or as scientists. The latter group have and do impact the lives of their racial enemies everyday in the United States. They find cover behind the easily and readily identifiable white supremacists who wear white sheets and allow themselves to be interviewed by the press."

Yep.



Although I would add that having lived in rural East Texas, where the Klan is still active that their presence is a good indicator of more intense racism of the kind you describe in more "respectable" places.

chauncey devega said...

Bringing down the KKK was one of the great triumphs of a young FBI. That is a great catch on the Dora toy. Are they thinking or not?

evil is evil said...

Mr devega, I read you religiously to get an idea of what is happening in the middle class of blacks.


I am not trying to be critical but you have an affinity for the Democratic/Republican party over the Republican/Democratic party. They are exactly the same. They will knowingly vote for evil, if it will bring in one thin dime more to spend on their next campaign. Check out Senator Dianne Feinstein's wealth, her position, her lies and defenses of the NSA, the military/industrial complex. Representative Nancy Pelosi is exactly the same.


There is a class war. The 97 percent class are being broken and divided by phony issues or race, religion, color, education, corrupt connections and individual sexual arrangements.


These mean nothing. They are strictly glittering geegaw' tossed out on the 95 percent owned by 5 corporation propaganda machine.


Fukushima is going to go nuclear. I don't need to know which "rehab" clinic Lindsay Lohan is in. I need to know that professionals for all over the earth realize that if #4 reactor does topple, the other 5 (two missing cores that may have reached the underlying aquifer and are reacting) start a chain reaction, the 2 clean plant will go up in the worst nuclear disaster that has ever happened..


The rich and the richest of the rich own the country. 20 percent of the people own 80 of the actual countable wealth.
We, the 80 percent, own less than 7 percent, and it is shrinking annually.


We need someone like you to drop all of the old pretenses and drive a campaign to convince the entire human race that we are doomed unless we stop all pollution now, stop poisoning the air, the water and the soil and ruining the food with multinational corporations owning the seed stock.


Change everything to renewal engery. No nukes, no oil, no coil, no pollution.


The thing that scares me the worst is the the rich and super rich think that they are immune to the effects on their genetic material by the use of unregulated pollution by nuclear Chemicals and other super dangerous common chemicals like lead, arsenic and rare minerals that are spewed out by franking of petroleum and its use in the antique coal, gas and petroleum powered plants.


Even if the rich and powerful retreat to the underground cities built in the cold war, their descendants won't be human. They will be mutants.


A recent study of new born's umbilical cords in New Jersey, with the most sophisticated equipment that the researchers could get their hands on, showed the lowest umbilical cord with over 400 separately identified industrial chemicals. 85 percent of all industrial chemicals have never been tested for toxicity or possible genetic damage.


Combining 400 unknown chemicals in a new born guarantees that the chemicals will change and unify and they will affect the genetic makeup of genes.


Someone has to stand up, compose a coherent program to save as many people with clean genes as possible.


Mankind as we know it, is toast. It is a shame because I like dolphins and they will go down with all of the other mammals as the human race commits suicide for profit.


Sorry, not coherent. I'm just an old broken down redneck hillbilly atheist that is technically a mental case but I AM NOT STUPID.


The big fruit is species suicide and neither you nor I are gong to be allowed into the rich and powerf'ulls' hidey holes.

chauncey devega said...

Trust me both political parties are corrupt.


"We need someone like you to drop all of the old pretenses and drive a campaign to convince the entire human race that we are doomed unless we stop all pollution now, stop poisoning the air, the water and the soil and ruining the food with multinational corporations owning the seed stock."


I wish I had that power. Now, what can we all do together, or in our small part of the world, to prepare for what is coming and to resist?


We need more "old broken down hillbillies" in the fight by the way. Smart folks w. common sense and real skills.

revue said...

Why does that guy in the first pic have a Dora the Explorer toy in his house?