Racists in America never seem to tire of trying to outdo one another. The ink was barely dry on the story of the white supremacist — whose alleged shooting rampage at two Jewish institutions in Kansas was followed by a cry of “Heil Hitler!” — when we were treated to the psycho rants of everyone’s new favorite deadbeat, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who declared that black Americans (“Negroes” to him) have problems today because “they never learned to pick cotton” and they were perhaps “better off as slaves.”
That sent Bundy’s opportunistic supporters — like Nevada Senator Dean Heller and prez hopeful Rand Paul, both Republicans — into a frenzied panic. “Appalling!” “Offensive!” “Racist!” they shouted, trying desperately to create some distance between them and the guy who — just moments before — was a blue-blooded hero for attempting an armed insurrection against the federal government.
It seems that racists just aren’t getting all the love like they used to. Could it be that they’re … misunderstood?
Enter the Ku Klux Klan, whose Imperial Wizard, Frank Ancona, declared this week that he’s got BIG IDEAS for a new KKK — a KKK for today, one that’s “about educating people” and looking out for members who might be “discriminated against.”
Unbelievably, this is real. In response to a rash of crimes, the KKK has now started a “neighborhood watch” in Fairview Township, PA, one that includes a 24-hour “Klanline” and flyers that cry, “You can sleep tonight knowing the Klan is awake!”
We’re not so sure if everybody is going to sleep better. This is in spite of Ancona’s repeated assurances that this will be “just like any neighborhood watch program,” and that they wouldn’t even think of targeting minorities. “We don’t hate people,” he said. “We are an organization who looks out for our race.”
Are you feeling safer yet? Sure, Ancona admits the KKK still believes in “racial separation,” but they’re normal people, he insists, just like everybody else: “professional people, business people, working types.”
“Members could be the guy who is delivering your pizza,” he said. “It could be law enforcement from the local sheriff’s office. It could be the nurse taking care of you in the emergency room.”
Now how safe do you feel?
Marketing experts expressed extreme skepticism that the KKK could ever successfully “re-brand” itself as anything other than a hate group. “Violence and racial intimidation were the KKK’s raison d’etre,” said Jelani Cobb, director of the Africana Studies Institute at UConn. “They’re not simply a controversial civic organization.”
But we gotta give ’em credit for trying, we suppose. And Ancona insists that his “Klanline” is already popular with some residents. Surely, if true, that will only encourage their rebranding efforts. So we’re wondering: What will the KKK do next in their effort to prove they’re not a hate group? What do YOU think?