It IS Still Alive Today
The Ku Klux Klan……………….pg.7
Dozens of Political parties vied for power in the chaos that was Germany following World War I. Most were small, and one of the smallest was Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, or the German Workers Party, later to become known as the Nazi Party. This tiny group of malcontents should evolve into a force that would threaten to conquer the world was due to the twisted genius of one man- Adolf Hitler.
His passionate German nationalism would not allow him to embrace any philosophy that preached universal brotherhood. Hitler developed his pathological hatred for Jews during this period. To Hitler and to millions of others steeped in German anti-Semitism, the answer was a violent no. The Jews were foreign and alien; they could never be German. Their very presence was a threat to German purity. This came as a profound awakening to Hitler. He began to read anti-Semitic literature, much of which reviled Jews in sordid, pornographic terms. He came to believe that Jews were at the bottom of everything wrong with society. In 1913 Hitler left Vienna for Munich, the capitol of the German state of Bavaria. Over time and through connections and invitations, Hitler became the seventh member of the board of the D.A.P., short for the German Workers Party. The thirty year old former vagrant had found the vehicle though which he would impose his radical views across two continents. The small party- soon to be known as the nazis-had found its leader, who would make the party’s name synonymous with the Holocaust.
Although the party was, according to it’s name, a party for the working class, most of the membership came from the middle class and were between twenty five and thirty five years old. Many were former soldiers who came home without a profession. Of these, many were violent by nature and were attracted by the prospect of street brawling.
Generally, the early Nazis were characterized by four qualities: A fierce love of Germany, a hatred for Jews, a fear of communism, and a distrust of the Weimar Republic. Within a month, Hitler had overhauled party propaganda with grand plans. He began to organize a huge rally and rented an auditorium that seated nearly 2,000. His fellow members thought he had lost his mind.
The people of Munich, curious about this new party and it’s fiery spokesman, almost filled the hall. He spoke for nearly four hours, outlining Germany’s economic troubles and placing the blame on the “November Criminals” and on the Jews. What should be done, he screamed, with those who have done this to Germany? “Hang them!” the crowd screamed back.
Hitler then presented his 25 point plan. All Germans were to be united in a single nation. German citizenship was to be reserved for those of pure Aryan blood. “No Jew, therefore,” Hitler said,” may be a member of the nation.” It was at that point the party would soon become known as the Nazi party.
Hitler knew that most people would be more easily unified by visible symbols than by abstract ideas. One was already at hand – The Swastika.
As early as 1920, the Nazi Salute – The right arm held out stiffly at an angle- was in use, as was the greeting heil, variously translated as saved, or healed. Years later, when Hitler had become absolute leader of the Nazis, the greeting became “Heil, Hitler.”
With Hitler winning the majority of the people, National elections were held on July 31st. The Nazis received 13.7 million votes, won 230 seats in Reichstag, and replaced the social democrats as the largest party. With the nazis firmly in power and all other political parties outlawed, it was only natural that the party would grow. Between 1933 and 1935 membership jumped 193 percent to almost 2.5 million. The number of schoolteachers holding Nazi membership rose more than 500 percent. The nazis had completed their seizure of power. They would next turn their attention to the long standing objects of their hatred- The Jews.
After 1933 the Nazis were able to turn the full machinery of government against their avowed enemies. As a result, the Jews were slowly stripped of their rights and property until all that remained were their lives. The Holocaust would take many of those as well.
Immediately after Hitler became chancellor, the SA and SS began a campaign of terror against political opponents, especially Jews, hauling thousands away from their families, and penning them in Concentration Camps. Under The Nazis they came to be known as places of horror and brutality from which few returned alive.
Then came the extermination. Millions upon millions of Jews and other races were soon forced out of their homes to be sent to different camps. The most referred to location was in Auschwitz, where an estimated 7 million people were sent to die. Few were spared. In the end, over 11 million people were extinguished, for absolutely no reason other than their color, race, or religion.
The Ku Klux Klan
Since the early development of society in the United states, racism has always been a divisive issue faced by communities on a political level. Our space country was built from the immigration of people from an international array of backgrounds. However, multitudes of whit supremacists blame their persona as well as economic misfortunes on an abundance of ethnic groups. African-Americans, Jews and Catholics are only some if the groups tormented by these white supremacists. As the amount of ethnic diversity gradually increased in the political systems of Louisiana and the United States, organizations rapidly formed to challenge the new ethnic variation in government. The Ku Klux Klan is one of these groups that were formed by people who were angered by the increase of diversity in political office and in the workplace. Local and state officials that were members of the Klan aided in providing influence, money, and information to the racist organization. As the civil right movement became accepted, it seemed as if the power if racist organizations deteriorated. However, with the Klan demanding freedom of speech, with political figure related to the Ku Klux Klan still bringing prejudice to politics throughout the country, and with multitudes of African-American churches being burned to the ground, it seems as if the Ku Klux Klan is still a threat to the citizens of this country.
The Ku Klux Klan has played a major role in United States history. As the south was undergoing the era of Reconstruction after the civil war, the votes of newly emancipated black southerners put the Republicans in power throughout the states. White Southerners resorted to brute force to preserve the white supremacy they once had. The Klan was originally arranged into secret societies that terrorized local white and black Republican leaders. They also threatened all Sworn to secrecy, its members wore white robes and masks and adopted the burning cross as their symbol. The Klan members seemed to be most active during election campaigns, when they would either scare people into voting for their candidate or get rid of their opponents entirely. They were noticed for their horrible acts of violence that they called nighttime rides. These attacks included murder, rape, beatings and warnings and were designed to overcome republican majorities in the south. Due to the fear of a race war, state officials were unable to suppress the violence. Law enforcement officials were Klan members themselves and even when the law officers were legitimate, Klan members also sat on juries where criminally accused members were often acquitted.
The Klan erupted as a secret organization employing it’s secrecy to mislead the public and inquiring newspapers, Therefor, they were labeled the invisible empire. In certain regions the Klan did not have enough influence to become politically triumphant.
The Klan was incredibly hungry for political gain. The best way to promote the growth of an organization of this sort would be the expansion of a network with prominent political and investment resources. An effort to enlist officials with both local and state authority was adopted in the state of Louisiana from successful attempts in Atlanta. They first enrolled the Adjutant General of the state of Louisiana, L.A. Toombs, and then inducted several members of the state legislature, a number of local and district judges, sheriffs, district attorneys, and police officers.
The idea of public officials having involvement in the Ku Klux Klan is frightening, and still today is present. In the early decades of the nineteenth century people were not sensible in their views of society as they are now. In present time people are more open minded, and although racism does exist, it is totally unacceptable for society to tolerate bigotry from a political figure. A native of Louisiana, David Duke has been a considerably active politician. As Duke introduces a broad political campaign he does not leave behind his ties to bigotry. Still affiliated with white supremacist’s groups, Duke has been “convicted of inciting to riot…”(Louisiana’s…27). His history has linked him to various neo-nazi organizations.” As a member of the KKK at Louisiana State University, where he received his BA in History in 1974, he became an enthusiastic admirer of Adolph Hitler, and by 1975, he had risen to Grand Wizard of the Louisiana Ku Klux Klan”(Mackenzie, 40). Duke was always searching for different approaches to express his ideas. Methods of the Klan were no longer effective in stopping civil rights as they were in the sixties. “Duke quit the Klan in 1980, and founded the National Association for the Advancement of White People” (Mackenzie,40). Duke broke into the national spotlight in 1987, when he was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives, from the district of Jefferson Parish. While serving his term as a state legislator,” He was caught selling Nazi books from his legislative office. One of them, Did six million really die?, attempts to discredit the Holocaust.”(Mackenzie,40) Duke then made an attempt to unseat J. Bennett Johnston from his position in the United States Senate in 1990.He gave Johnston quite a scare, forcing a run off election and receiving almost forty percent of the vote in that election. Encouraged by that performance, Duke
gave up his house seat to run for governor. Even though his strategy was hardly original he managed to rally an entire campaign around the folklore that welfare spending was responsible for high taxes and blacks were taking away jobs from whites. Yet, in reality, the total outlay on aid to families with dependent children amounted to 2 percent of the entire state budget. He received 32 percent of the primary vote, which was enough to knock off incumbent Buddy Roemer, who received 29 percent, and get in a run-off with Edwin Edwards, who led with 35 percent. During this runoff, Duke received most of his media attention as he appeared numerous times on CNN and other political shows. Duke still lost the runoff to Edwards in 1991, yet he decided he would shoot for the White House the following year. But when Pat Buchannan entered the election, Duke lost the ultra-conservative, angry white male vote he was to capitalize on. Racism in the United States is outlined in elections of characters like David Duke.
Today, the Ku Klux Klan does not just threaten minority groups on the political level. Nearly 100 African-American churches have been burnt to the ground in the past year and a half. While some arrests made have not linked the Klan with the fires, many have. Two South Carolina Klan members have been arrested for burglarizing and setting ablaze two churches. The two men, Timothy Welch and Gary Cox had attended a Klan meeting only weeks before the fires. Welch was arrested with his KKK identification card in his wallet. The other, Gary Cox, lived with another member in a trailer. WHEN A LOCAL NEWSPAPER ASKED Welch’s mother to comment on what her son did, she replied, “Those boys felt the blessing of the Klan…They take these young country boys who don’t really know a lot and have never been out in the world, and they corrupt them.” The two men were not only charged with theft and arson, but were also charged with the beating and stabbing of a mentally handicapped black male who was waiting for a bus outside a Wal-Mart.
The Ku Klux Klan is not only a threat politically and physically, but they also incite riots. In June of last year in Greensville, Texas, the Klan held a rally in which they “waived Confederate flags and complained about the U.S. government”. Michael Lowe, a leader in the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan was stated in saying, “It ain’t about hate, it’s about white pride.” Another member was quoted in saying, It aint the white people, it’s the damn government, the Jews, whose bringin’ this country down. It aint the white people.” Over 150 state and local officials were present to control the local crowd of anti-KKK as well as different KKK factions. Some policemen were dressed in riot gear, some were on horse back as they tried to control the mobs behind the barricades set up along the small towns street.
The United States is known as a melting Pot. Since it’s beginnings as small settlements, this country has always been a haven to those who need it. When many think of America, they think of the land of opportunity, the land of the American dream. Where one can, no matter who they are or where they are from, they can make it rich. The Ku Klux Klan is everything the American dream is not. They are a sign of bigotry and hatred. They have strived for over a hundred years to shatter the dreams of so many people. Many believe that since the civil rights movement, the KKK is no longer a danger. But, we must not forget racism and bigotry does not die with an amendment to the Constitution. Their are still people like David Duke in office. Their are still people like Gary Cox setting fire to innocent churches. And their are still people like Michael Lowe who believe it is the Jews who are bringing this country down. We must not forget that the KKK is still alive, and we, as Americans should do everything in our power to protect the American Dream.
My personal view on racism, is that in a country full of hopes and dreams, who has the right to act upon innocent people trying to get by and live a peaceful life without hate and to take matters into their own hands. No one has the right to tell another person where to live, what they should be called, or when their life shall end. If you have a problem with someone just because of their sex, race, color, religion, family, or background, look past that, and realize you need to keep an open mind, and that if you can be the better man by accepting any kind of person, That is one less person who has seen past racism and bigotry. My view on the KKK and nazis or any form of racism, is that these people are just looking for attention they never had before, and are willing to get it no matter what. No one deep inside has a problem with anyone just because they’re Jewish or black or gay, they are looking for some to hate in order to fit in to what they feel is a “family.” All I’m going to say, is keep an open mind towards everything and everyone. None of us need hate.
Karl Dietrich Bracher, The German Dictatorship.New York:Praeger, 1971.
Albert Marrin, Hitler. New York:Viking Kestrel, 1987.
Joshua Rubenstein, Adolf Hitler, New York:Franklin Watts, 1984.
Burton H. Wolfe, Hitler and the Nazis, New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1970
The Ku Klux Klan
David A. Adler, The history of hate, New York: Holiday House, 1995
Susan D. Bachrach, The Ku Klux Klan, Boston: Little, Brown, 1994
Bruce Bliven Jr., Nights Terrors in the South, New York: Random House, 1965