KKK and the Public
The Public’s Perception of the KKK
If you are a kid having heard a lot about KKK but not knowing the truth behind the Klan you are not alone. There are as many views, opinions, and perceptions about the Klan as there are people, and to a large extent this is because of secrecy behind the movement and no organizational structure beyond local level in KKK. Formally known as Ku Klux Klan, the movement has three distinct phases in the US, and is considered a far right movement that believes in white supremacy and white nationalism. KKK has also been suspected of Christian terrorism and anti-Semitism though it would tantamount to giving in to public perceptions. The movement has been there in the country for the last 150 years and has seen changes in its ideology and structure that make it difficult for common people to have a concrete opinion about KKK.
Trying to look back KKK history, we find that the first phase of the movement started in 1865 and lasted for another 10-12 years. The movement started in the South against the tyranny of North and members wore white masks and robes to hide their identities. Second phase of the movement retained the masks but added burning crosses and lasted from 1915 to 1944. The third phase of the movement started in 1946 and can be said to be continuing till date. As far as membership is concerned, first phase had nearly half a million members while membership peaked during the 2nd phase when there were an estimated 3-6 million members in the country. The present phase is signified by decentralization with around 180 chapters countrywide.
The first phase started with a mission to reassert south in national politics and the naming of the group as KKK reflected this ideology as it meant Circle of Brothers. This was a reconstruction era and members of the Klan sought to restore white supremacy using threat and violence (including murder) against blacks and republicans. The second phase was started in Georgia and reflected the sentiments of the populace as it included, besides racism, anti Catholicism, anti communism, and anti Semitism. The third phase of the movement is more decentralized than earlier ones and there are fewer members but more chapters nationwide. Though this phase is not as strong as earlier ones, it is still considered dangerous as it opposes civil rights movement and advancement of minorities. With US electing an African American as its President in Barrack Obama, there has been a renewed interest in the Klan with the fears of the unknown being spread by the members of the Klan among the population. One look at KKK website is enough to tell a common man as to what the thinking of the Klan is towards blacks and civil rights and how the movement view election of Barrack Obama as 44th President of the country. KKK website proclaims itself to be the savior of rights of white people and says that the ideals of the movement have never been more relevant than today.
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