Ku Klux Klan/Talk

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I seem to recall that they also used a name Knights of something or other?

Yes, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, or Grand Knights, and so forth. There have been hundreds--literally--of these groups, which go out of business or split into fractions when the leaders quarrel.--AMT

Knights of the White Camilla

How is KKK related to the white supremist groups today?

In movies, KKK was portraited as people who committed hate-crimes in today's standards. But were they legitimate in their actions according to the laws then? For example, was public linching a legal thing to do back then? Any historian to comment?

I'm no historian, but I believe lynching was always illegal. But police, prosecutors and judges would often turn a blind eye to it. -- Simon J Kissane

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which has a website, documents a lot of the shifting of personnel among white supremacist groups. The various Klans are related/not related to the others--the groups split up and form alliances largely on the basis of personal quarrels and legal difficulties. Also there are various ideologies and gurus that come into fashion and pass.

As to the Klan: the original groups were formed to intimidate free blacks and middle-of-the-road whites during Reconstruction. They continued through at least the 1930s with the support of many influential people. The main thing to keep in mind is that they were political terrorists--lynching has always been illegal, as SJK says, but lynchings do not always come from political motives. In San Jose, California, for example, some kidnappers were dragged from the jail and hanged in the town square in the late 30s. A certain social prejudice may have been involved--they were drifters or less reputable members of the community. But the mob was just angry. On the other hand, Klan actions were undertaken for political ends: to prevent blacks from voting, to prevent labor organizing, to prevent votes against candidates that the Klan favored, to intimidate juries, and so forth.--AMT

This An organization in America dedicated to opposing civil rights for blacks, Jews, and other disadvantaged groups. does not strike me as how they would describe their primary purpose. I don't know how they would describe it, but in an article about them, how they describe themselves would seem to be a key fact, which it is essential to mention in the article itself. --LMS

I believe that the timeing of the KKK's re-emergence in the 20th century precedes the Great Depression by at least a decade. I seem to recall that it was a powerful force in Indiana politics in the 1920s, for example, and certainly "Birth of a Nation" was much earlier (1915 or so, as I recall).


It is often heard that the name represents the sound of a gunman chambering a bullet. I've never heard of "kuklos" before. Can someone document this? --Dmerrill

The COINTELPRO program of the FBI has also been credited with decimating the KKK in the 1960s, leaving many anti-COINTELPRO liberals in a philosophical conundrum about the powers that should be granted to government.

I think this is point to make, but it needs to be in a better NPOV. I'd do it myself, but I don't know much about the KKK and nothing at all about COINTELPRO.

opposing [civil rights]? for Blacks, Jews, and other disadvantaged groups

Since when were Jews in US 'disadvantaged' ? --Taw

well, Jews in America were legally disadvantaged - excluded by legal covenant or by silent consent from home ownership in many communities or neighborhoods and stated or tacit quotas were established for admission to universities. I don't much like the formulation as it is, but Jews were certainly not assimilated into broader American society before the 2nd quarter of the 20th century, with the process accelerating after WWII. --MichaelTinkler