Comments: 451 • Responses: 18 • Date: 2017-11-14 14:10:12 UTCsource
drunkpublisher327 karma2017-11-14 14:13:27 UTC
What myth about the KKK do you wish people would stop spreading?
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fharcourt842 karma2017-11-14 14:57:28 UTC
That it was somehow a deviation from American norms. That we can blame lynchings solely on groups like the Klan and not on the wide cross-section of white society that participated in and/or endorsed racial violence.
LazyFigure135 karma2017-11-14 15:00:27 UTC
At what point in history did they become at odds with American society? Is that when they started wearing hoods or did the hoods not have anything to do with hiding their identity?
fharcourt243 karma2017-11-14 15:10:56 UTC
The masks grow out of the theatricality of the Reconstruction-era Klan tactics to sow terror. Klans are criticized in the 1920s for wearing masks - either as cowards for not being willing to show their face, or for creating cover for criminals to act under cover of Klan activity. But in many regions, Klansmen and women paraded without masks.
As to when they became "at odds" with society - it depends on how we're defining society. Arguably when Ulysses S. Grant enforces the Ku Klux Klan Acts in the early 1870s. But then the myth of Reconstruction is created, and the Klan's controversy is sanitized, allowing for a resurgence after World War I.
BGummyBear243 karma2017-11-14 14:49:27 UTC
Where did the ranks/titles in the KKK originally come from? For example, when and why did the head of the KKK get called the "Grand Wizard"?
fharcourt321 karma2017-11-14 15:06:33 UTC
They grow out of the theatricality of Reconstruction-era Klans, and are of a piece with the ghostly or demonic masks the nightriders wore. They were codified by the founder of the second Klan in 1915, William Joseph Simmons, in his handbook for the Klan, the "Kloran."
Rhoam245 karma2017-11-14 16:25:21 UTC
Was it actually called the Kloran?
fharcourt268 karma2017-11-14 16:31:23 UTC
the_schmeez137 karma2017-11-14 15:21:39 UTC
1 serious question and 2 candid ones:
The town that I live in gets a lot of flack because a "Grand Dragon" lived here from the time that he retired until he died. People still associate us with him and call us racist for it. What can we do to reduce the stigma left?
What hobbies do you have when not doing your research and lectures?
Favorite type of pizza including crust choice?
fharcourt236 karma2017-11-14 15:29:10 UTC
There's a lot of great racial healing/transformation projects at work right now that are making great strides with these kinds of issues. Take a look at the Kellogg Foundation's program, for example - https://www.wkkf.org/what-we-do/racial-equity/truth-racial-healing-transformation
Time exists outside of research, teaching, and sleep?
Good quality margherita, thin and crispy crust.
Nooraana126 karma2017-11-14 14:16:58 UTC
How were members of the KKK socially? Did they seem like normal people or were they known to be avoided?
fharcourt264 karma2017-11-14 14:58:47 UTC
Depends on where in the country, and when. If you're in Indiana in 1924, then Klan meetings are openly advertised in the newspaper and everyone* is welcome to attend.
100FootWallOfFog62 karma2017-11-14 15:51:05 UTC
Were Catholics not accepted by the klan?
fharcourt159 karma2017-11-14 15:53:18 UTC
In the Reconstruction period, and by the 1940s, yes - in fact, there was a Catholic head of the Klan. In the 1920s, Catholics were seen by the Klan as owing their primary allegiance to the Pope and not to America, and therefore "un-American." This was an idea heavily intertwined with nativism targeting large numbers of new Catholic immigrants from southern Europe.
madmaxpower9106 karma2017-11-14 15:29:27 UTC
should we take down the Confederate statues? How bout statues of anyone who owned slaves are participated in KKK activities?
fharcourt325 karma2017-11-14 15:39:03 UTC
A significant number of statues to the Confederate cause were erected in the early 20th century as part of the same process of sanitization of public memory that allowed for the resurgence of the Klan in the post-WWI era. It is no coincidence that the Robert E. Lee statue at the heart of the Charlottesville protests was erected in 1924, the same year that the Ku Klux Klan's national membership peaked.
OrionPax_106 karma2017-11-14 15:23:12 UTC
Were any well-known people or people in positions of power ever outed as members of the KKK?
fharcourt167 karma2017-11-14 15:33:28 UTC
Yes, many. In Colorado alone, for example, the governor was a Klansman and the mayor of Denver was a Klansman. My current project revolves around understanding just how much influence the Klan exerted over members of the US Congress in the 1920s - some of whom were members, others who were simply open to Klan lobbying.
Jeffery_G76 karma2017-11-14 14:21:10 UTC
Was this your dissertation? If so, from which institution? Interesting field.
fharcourt104 karma2017-11-14 14:59:15 UTC
To some extent - the book grew out of my dissertation work at George Washington University.
Historian106674 karma2017-11-14 15:41:01 UTC
Based on your understanding of Klan history, what is the most effective way to fight them? I.E. reduce their membership and power?
fharcourt167 karma2017-11-14 16:25:36 UTC
Multipronged - primarily public education. But also that press coverage doesn't simply report on Klan (or affiliated groups) actions, but embeds critical comment on the group's ideas in that reporting. The Klan doesn't shrivel in the light of publicity, it shrivels in making membership intellectually, culturally, and socially toxic.
mistertrev1458 karma2017-11-14 16:17:39 UTC
If there is something you’d like to say to the current generation of klan members, what would it be?
fharcourt300 karma2017-11-14 16:29:37 UTC
You're wearing your costumes wrong. The cross over the breast should be an "x" not a "+". If you're going to be racists, at least get your costuming right.
And if you're wrong about as simple a thing as your robes, just think what else you might be wrong about...
deputypresident57 karma2017-11-14 15:57:22 UTC
I am aware of the KKK which are occasionally represented in pop culture (I remember the movie Mississippi Burning and thought how evil they were).
Has there been at any point in time a non-white member, or even a non-white honorary member?
fharcourt100 karma2017-11-14 16:16:15 UTC
The Klan in the 1920s actually set up an affiliate organization for non-white members. It's unclear if anyone ever actually joined it though.
Iamthenewme57 karma2017-11-14 14:37:48 UTC
I'm not American so forgive my ignorance, but did the KKK actually use those ghostly costumes regularly, in practice? Where did the costume come from? Were there different varieties on that same theme, within KKK?
fharcourt109 karma2017-11-14 15:01:48 UTC
The Reconstruction-era Klan costumes look much different than the costumes we normally associate with the Klan, which are adopted in the 1920s. Those costumes are largely based on representations of the Klan in the D.W. Griffith film, "Birth of a Nation." And members in the 1920s did regularly wear those costumes - it was official Klan policy (and you had to buy your robes from the official Klan manufacturer, making a nice profit for the organization).
the_drew39 karma2017-11-14 16:05:11 UTC
Freakonomics claimed (and i'm paraphrasing somewhat) that removing the mask of secrecy (and therefore, showing how silly the klans internal rituals and customs were) caused interest in being a klansman to erode.
Charlottesville suggested klan interest was far from eroded. So are you familiar with their article? And what, in your opinion, would cause a permanent lack of interest in the klan?
fharcourt74 karma2017-11-14 16:15:05 UTC
That Freakonomics piece is a bad misreading of history - the conclusion to the book is largely about why the assumption that the light of publicity will cause the Klan to disappear is a dangerous idea. I wrote a piece about this question recently - http://www.aaihs.org/the-black-press-and-the-ku-klux-klan/
sheef2731 karma2017-11-14 15:30:56 UTC
Has the KKK been involved in any attacks that have made a direct political impact? Like bumping off someone that had different views or something similar?
fharcourt65 karma2017-11-14 15:36:41 UTC
The Reconstruction-era Klans certainly threatened (and used) violence against black voters.
madmaxpower912 karma2017-11-14 15:28:14 UTC
do you believe in ghosts?
fharcourt66 karma2017-11-14 15:31:44 UTC
I believe the legacy of the Klan haunts us.
Koof99-21 karma2017-11-14 14:48:36 UTC
Was the Klan founded by liberals or conservatives?
fharcourt40 karma2017-11-14 15:02:07 UTC
By political opportunists.
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