Sunday, August 20, 2006

Refuting a Few Myths

Through my travels in this country, I have learned that the South has no monopoly on narrow-minded bigots. If a person listened only to conventional wisdom, he or she might believe, erroneously, that all racists, xenophobes, and hyper-nationalists live in the states of the former Confederacy.

For comparison's sake, let's refer to everyone's favorite White Supremacists.

At the height of the second resurgence of the KKK, the majority of its membership was located in the state of Indiana.

Historians in recent years have obtained membership rosters of some local units and matched the names against city directory and local records to create statistical profiles of the membership. Big city newspapers were unanimously hostile and often ridiculed the Klansmen as ignorant farmers. Detailed analysis from Indiana [43] shows the stereotype was false:

Indiana's Klansmen represented a wide cross section of society: they were not disproportionately urban or rural, nor were they significantly more or less likely than other members of society to be from the working class, middle class, or professional ranks. Klansmen were Protestants, of course, but they cannot be described exclusively or even predominately as fundamentalists. In reality, their religious affiliations mirrored the whole of white Protestant society, including those who did not belong to any church.

The Klan was successful in recruiting throughout the country, but the membership turned over rapidly. Still, millions joined and at its peak in the 1920s the organization included about 15% of the nation's eligible population[44] and had chapters across the United States. There were even clans founded in Canada, most notably in Saskatchewan, where there was a large clan movement against Catholic immigrants.[45]

In summary, let it be said that the roots of intolerance run deep in this country. This goes far beyond the red state/blue state divide.

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