The documentary features the Mississippi White Nights of the Ku Klux Klan, the Klavern that came to attention with the film "Mississippi Burning."
documentary shows Klan members in a forest grove marching around a 16-foot burning cross in white hoods and robes and chanting slogans such as, "White power," "Klansmen, the fiery cross!" "For God... For country... For race!... And Klan!"
The documentary is a testimony against those who want us to believe that racism is a thing of the past and that groups such as the KKK and the attitudes they epitomize are relics of a past age. Such people often attempt to intimidate victims of racist aggression into silence by accusing them of "playing the race card."
However, attempts to deny incidence of racism in modern society with the suggestion that racism is a "worn cliche" is one that serves only the purpose of those who want to carry on with those conservative ways and attitudes that modern liberal political culture frowns at.
Racists thrive in secrecy
"Nightline" documentary illustrates how racists avoid public attention in a modern world in which, paradoxically, the rules of politically correct language have become the white hood behind which they conceal their faces. According to ABC
, members of the Ku Klux Klan, for instance, call themselves "'the invisible empire' for a reason: They thrive in secrecy."
observes, "The people wearing these robes walk among us." But for as long they abide by the letter rather than by the spirit of the rules of political correctness in speech, they do not attract attention to themselves, though, once in a while the facade slips and we have headlines screaming with news of an impolitic statement by a conservative politician such as "slavery was a 'blessing' for blacks."
the fact that racists are not relics of a past age, but that they have learned to thrive under cover in a social environment hostile to overt expressions of racist feelings and attitudes. As one of the members of the Klan group who spoke from behind the hood in the documentary said: "You don't know who I am. You could think the world of me, and yet if you see me in this hood and knew who I was, your whole thoughts could change."
The challenges of politically correct language and the 'tone deafness' of racist speech
According to ABC's "Nightline,"
the group's leader Grand Wizard Steven Howard, expresses his views about black people. They sound very familiar even in the twenty-first century:
"Black people and white people are nowhere related. In my opinion, black people evolved from animals. That's what I think they evolved from: apes."
Of course, Howard only expresses his opinion, and everyone has the right to freedom of speech, don't they? Mr. Howard may even brandish in our faces "scientific research evidence" (a la
Professor Richard Lynn) to back his assertion that his opinions about blacks are statements of "fact," and dare anyone who feels offended that he states the "facts." For instance, Grand Wizard Howard only states the "facts" when he says blacks are untrustworthy: "[You] can't trust [blacks] -- it's just facts. It's just facts, you can't trust them. You can't trust them."
How do you stop a man from stating the "facts?" "Scientific facts" such as blacks have lower Intelligence Quotients or that certain black nations are not as "inventive" as others
are such compelling truths to individuals suffering "tone deafness" as far as the requirements of politically correct language are concerned that they must be stated, shouted on the rooftops for the benefit of a public supposedly in need of education about race-correlated differences, even at the risk of the self-appointed public educator appearing urgently in need of lessons in good manners, etiquette and rules of polite communication that minimize conflict and friction in ordinary day-to-day social interaction.
But racists never consider themselves bigots. Howard, for instance, describes his Klan membership as a "state of Christianity," and argues he is not a bigot only a "race realist." He says: "I consider myself a white separatist. A bigot? No. A racist? That's fair; you could call me a racist. Because a racist is just somebody who is racially aware, that thinks about race."
Like all racists, Howard is concerned about the "purity" of his race in a world in which "purity" of the races is under threat from both legal and illegal immigration. He delivers a lecture on the significance of the well known KKK ritual of burning the cross:
"Through lighting the cross we signify that the cross is the light of the world, and we purify our race and we purify our people. ... We're lighting crosses to let people know that America is in turmoil right now, and there is people here to protect the Ku Klux Klan, and that's what we're here to do."
Then he gives the familiar self-contradictory denial of hate feelings racists often indulge in: "I'm not saying that I don't like black people. I'm saying that I believe in racial segregation. I believe that we need to be separated.. Let them set up their own state, where they belong, and give them their own homeland."
We hear the same arguments daily across the spectrum of conservative ideological positions: right wing nationalists, nativist immigrant haters, opponents of multiculturalism: We don't hate "furriners" but we have a right to protect our national identity (read: "race identity").
Howard, for instance, advocates an all-white south from which all blacks, Hispanics and Jews are banned.
To keep up with racists in the twenty-first century you have to be up-to-date with the coded language they deploy to obfuscate their meaning. Nationalism, patriotism, are still the common fronts; and now rampant on Internet is the seemingly innocuous argument for standards on "English websites" which draws a sharp, uncompromising distinction between those writers who are "native speakers" and "English-as-second-language-writers" who must be barred at all cost being "illiterates" who invariably compromise standards, lower quality and prestige of the "English language website."
Howard asserts that he would disown his daughter if she dated a black man. The interviewer takes that up with him. The man who says modern-day KKK is not violent or racist laughs uneasily: "I'm not going to say what I'd like to say on camera. But, I'd disown her. I'd disown her. I wouldn't have nothing else to do with her for the rest of my life."
The confession of faith that follows is the classical right-wing religious rhetoric that invokes the name of "God" to promote hatred against "immigrants" and "furriners":
"If you love, you love someone of your own race. ... God decreed that. Jesus decreed that."
"I thought Jesus said love each other," McFadden said.
"Jesus said love your neighbor, if you read the Bible."
Obviously, Howard defines the word "neighbor" in a very literal way.