Wednesday, March 07, 2007

klan values

gary welsh is going to love this week's issue of nuvo, because laura mcphee's profile of eric miller and advance america tracks quite closely to what gary has been saying on his blog for some time.

in particular, the article points out the deep similarities between miller (and his supporters) and the ku klux klan of the 1920s, back when the klan ran indiana. you might recall that gary first made this observation, leading to last month's flamewar between gary and the star's rishawn biddle: rishawn thought the klan comparisons went way too far, because miller and his supporters (presumably) aren't out there burning crosses and lynching folks. but unfortunately for rishawn, there was a lot more to the klan of the '20s than hangings and hate crimes:

It is a part of our cultural history that we don’t like to discuss much, nor do we much like to acknowledge any ancestral resemblance. To point out similarities in contemporary religious expression or belief borders on blasphemy, and analogies to contemporary events are nearly always dismissed as hyperbole.

But the truth is that during its 1920s heyday, the Ku Klux Klan numbered over 5 million members nationwide, by some estimates more than 10 million — all of them white, Protestant, fiercely religious and fiercely patriotic.

Unlike its earlier incarnation in the post-Civil War era, however, this time the KKK was not primarily a rural and Southern phenomenon, and its popularity was evident in cities across America, none more so than Indianapolis.

Some branches of the Klan notoriously resorted to violence during this period, particularly in violent crimes against black communities and individuals. But an equally dangerous aspect of the Klan’s power in Indiana came from a blend of religious and patriotic duty that fueled local politics.

Founded in 1920, the Indiana chapter of the KKK quickly became the largest and most powerful branch of the Klan in the country. By 1924, more than 40 percent of white males in Indianapolis claimed membership, as did one in every three white men in the state, and the Klan accurately and proudly boasted control of the mayor and governor’s offices, the Indiana General Assembly and the Indianapolis City Council almost exclusively in the form of the Republican candidates they backed.

During the 1920s, the mainstream embrace of the Ku Klux Klan was also demonstrated in churches throughout the state, as Protestant clergy were often the most ardent Klan supporters in each community.

In Indianapolis, the Rev. William Forney Harris of the Grand Avenue Methodist Church was not atypical when he encouraged Klan membership among his congregation in 1922, preaching that these were times of "moral decay," and as such, "any organization that stands for decency and order ought not to be shunned."

"Kinship of race, belief, spirit, character and purpose" were the basis for membership in the KKK, and the role model for Klansmen was "their Criterion of Character Jesus Christ." Additionally, the 1925 manual commands, "Klansmen are to be examples of pure patriotism."

it's a long piece; as they say, read the whole thing. it's a really strong piece; my only complaint about it is that it repeats the canard that americans are "split 50/50" between republicans and democrats (which, if it was ever true, was only really true about voters, not all americans).

gary should also appreciate the fact that the article also mentions the hypocrisy of SJR-7 sponsor, senator brandt hershman, who, as gary and other gay activists highlighted in january, claims to be pro-life but whose ex-wife says he personally drove her to an abortion clinic and insisted she have an abortion in 1997. all in all, the article reuses so many of gary's arguments that you'd think he was a source... of course, he and his blog are not cited.

update: gary is understandably annoyed that mcphee didn't credit him in her article, considering it's rather obvious that much of it was appropriated from his blog. as he says in the comments at bilerico: "I'm stunned she would do this to me. I expected more from her."

1 comment:

Advance Indiana said...

Thanks for the mention. I'm very happy Nuvo took on this story, but a simple acknowledgement would have been a lot nicer.