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Ku Klux Klan
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Ku Klux Klan

The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) is one of several white-supremacist organizations in the Southern United States, which are dedicated to opposing civil rights for blacks, Jews, and other ethnic, racial, social or religious groups. They also formerly opposed the Roman Catholic Church and its adherents and hierarchy as well as all foreign-born persons whether or not they had yet attained United States citizenship, and still oppose leftist groups in general (they actively fought the IWW in the early 20th Century), and the gay rights movement. The KKK was also prominent in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan in the 1920s and 1930s as an anti-Catholic, anti-French-Canadian, anti-immigrant, organization.

In recent years a spin-off organization came into existence in the United Kingdom. However, the British Ku Klux Klan is a tiny movement with no real influence.

Table of contents
1 Description
2 History
3 Doctrine
4 Symbols
5 Political influence
6 Related articles
7 External links


The name Ku Klux Klan comes from kyklos, the Greek word for circle, and "clan". Another etymology proposes and onomatopoeia of the loading of a gun. Members of the Klan wear white robes with hoods, representing the ghosts of soldiers that returned from the dead to get revenge on their enemies, and hiding their faces. Titles such as "Grand Wizard," "Exalted Cyclops," and "Kleagle" are used to indicate status.

The Ku Klux Klan has committed many acts of violence such as lynchings, the burning of homes, and even, in extreme cases, murder. They also burn the cross, saying that this represents the light of Christ. Planting a burning cross serves to terrorize their victims. The Ku Klux Klan use Christian symbolism in most of their rituals. Mainstream Christians believe that using Christianity to support racism is wrong.


The original Ku Klux Klan was first established in Pulaski, Tennessee after the end of the American Civil War on December 24, 1865 by General Nathan Bedford Forrest and other Confederate veterans. In addition to aiding Confederate widows and orphans of the war, many members of the new group sought to oppose the extension of voting rights to Blacks, and other measures to end segregation, that were introduced as part of Reconstruction. But as federal control of the ex-Confederate states was withdrawn, the local white population re-established their power and with it segregation laws. Additionally, Nathan Bedford Forrest officially disbanded the organization in 1869 because it had evolved into an entity which he believed had strayed from its original mission and had instead grown increasingly violent and antagonistic.

In 1871 President Ulysses S. Grant put what was believed to be the final nail in the Klan's coffin, and signed The Klan Act and Enforcement Act. The Klan became an illegal terrorist group, and the use of force was authorized to suppress and disrupt the organization's activities.

The second Ku Klux Klan was re-established during World War I, a feat which arguably would not have been possible without David Wark Griffith's skillful propaganda film The Birth of a Nation, based on the play The Clansmen and the book The Leopard's Spots, both by Thomas Dixon. Many poor whites were drawn to the idea that their economic woes were caused by Blacks, or by Jewish bankers, or by other such groups, similar to the Nazi party's propaganda during the Second World War. This Klan was operated as a profit-making venture by its leaders, and participated in the boom for fraternal organizations at the time. It differed from the first Klan; the first Klan was Democratic and Southern; this Klan was Republican and Midwestern, and had major political influence on the Republicans in several Midwestern states. It collapsed largely as a result of a scandal involving David Stephenson, the Grand Dragon of Indiana, who was convicted of rape and murder in a sensational trial (the woman he attacked was bitten so many times one man who saw her described her condition as having been "chewed by a cannibal").

After World War II, there was a revival of several Ku Klux Klan organizations which were established to counter the Civil rights movement of the 1960s. This is the Klan that is still seen today, though as American society has become more racially tolerant the Klan has once more shrunk dramatically and fractured. The major factions currently include the Imperial Klans of America, the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and Knights of the White Kamelia.


The KKK organizations hold themselves to be Protestant Christian organizations. From the early 1900s through the 1940s, hundreds of thousands of White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs), primarily in the South saw the KKK as a part of their faith. Millions more viewed the KKK's tactics as morally reprehensible and extreme, but nonetheless saw its members as valid Christians and generally agreed that WASPs were inherently superior to other groups. At that time, oppressing black people, as well as Jews and Catholics, was seen by many as part of "God's plan" (by the early 1970s, however, most groups claiming ties to the KKK dropped anti-Catholicism from their officially-stated doctrines, and in the mid-1980s a Klan chapter was found to exist in New York City's borough of Queens, with most of its reputed members in fact being Catholic, primarily of Irish descent). A much smaller number of Americans still have such views today. Many people hold that the Klan's members were not really Christian, as they didn't follow the nonviolent, "turn the other cheek" teachings of classical Christianity. Others hold that this is a case of the "No true Scotsman fallacy".


Although the Klan in its original 19th century manifestation is not known to have used any flags or symbols, the 20th century version originating in 1915 focused on the use of the American flag and a flag bearing a Christian cross, as is documented in Klan instructional materials and photographs from the 1920s, the Klan's heyday. Some Klan groups in the 1950s and 1960s attempted to usurp the use of the Confederate battle flag (the Southern Cross, not related to the "Stars and Bars" or governmental flag of the Confederacy) in efforts aimed against desegregation and racial integration in the South. This appropriation of Southern symbols has been widely disavowed by historical and heritage activists in the South today. In its current fragmented form, the Klan in some instances continue to use both the Battle Flag and the American flag, but in both instances without official sanction.

Klan groups in the 1920s used the movement's official flag, a white field upon which was a black cross, thereupon superimposed a red symbol representing either a flame or a drop of blood (explanations of this symbol vary). Although this emblem is little used by the many splinter "Klan" groups today, it may well be considered the official flag and symbol of the Ku Klux Klan. Although Confederate symbols are sometimes mistakenly associated with the KKK, this usage occurred only in the 1950s and later, and is historically inappropriate.

Political influence

The Ku Klux Klan rose to great prominence and spread from the South into the Midwest and Northern states, and at this time counted many politicians among its members. Even the 33rd president Harry Truman was on the verge of becoming member of the Klan, though he soon changed his mind because of their anti-Catholicism. Another former Klansman to rise to national prominence was the Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, who repudiated the racist views of the Klan. West Virginia's Democratic Senator Robert Byrd is also a former Klansman, although he has renounced the Klan on several occasions and calls joining the group his "greatest mistake."

With the recovery from the Great Depression and the onset of World War II, the Klan again faded; it has never recaptured the number of members it held then, although it still exists.

Similar organizations include the Aryan Nations, the World Church of the Creator, the National Alliance, and the Silent Brotherhood.

In Saskatchewan the KKK had influence over the 1929-1934 Conservative government of James T.M. Anderson.

Related articles

External links