Saturday, July 4, 2015

Ku Klux Klan and Democrats

The Ku Klux Klan (KKK), or simply "the Klan", includes three distinct movements in the United States. The first sought to overthrow the Republican state governments in the South during the Reconstruction Era, especially by violence against African American leaders. It ended about 1871. The second was a very large, controversial, nationwide organization in the 1920s that especially opposed Catholics. The current manifestation consists of numerous small unconnected groups that use the KKK name. They have all emphasized racism, secrecy and distinctive costumes. All have called for purification of American society, and all are considered part of right-wing extremism.[3][4]

The current manifestation is classified as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center.[5] It is estimated to have between 5,000 and 8,000 members as of 2012.[2]
The first Ku Klux Klan flourished in the Southern United States in the late 1860s, then died out by the early 1870s. Members made their own, often colorful, costumes: robes, masks, and conical hats, designed to be outlandish and terrifying, and to hide their identities.[6][7] The second KKK flourished nationwide in the early and mid-1920s, and adopted a standard white costume (sales of which together with initiation fees financed the movement) and code words as the first Klan, while adding cross burnings and mass parades. It stressed opposition to the Catholic Church.[8] The third KKK emerged in the form of small local unconnected groups after 1950. They focused on opposition to the Civil Rights Movement, often using threats of violence. The second and third incarnations of the Ku Klux Klan made frequent reference to the America's "Anglo-Saxon" blood, harking back to 19th-century nativism.[9] Though most members of the KKK saw themselves as holding to American values and Christian morality, virtually every Christian denomination officially denounced the Ku Klux Klan.[10]

First KKK

The first Klan was founded in 1865 in Pulaski, Tennessee, by six veterans of the Confederate Army.[11] The name is probably derived from the Greek word kuklos (κύκλος) which means circle.[12]
Although there was little organizational structure above the local level, similar groups rose across the South and adopted the same name and methods.[13] Klan groups spread throughout the South as an insurgent movement during the Reconstruction era in the United States. As a secret vigilante group, the Klan targeted freedmen and their allies; it sought to restore white supremacy by threats and violence, including murder, against black and white Republicans. In 1870 and 1871, the federal government passed the Force Acts, which were used to prosecute Klan crimes.[14] Prosecution of Klan crimes and enforcement of the Force Acts suppressed Klan activity.
The first Klan had mixed results in terms of achieving its objectives. It seriously weakened the black political establishment through its use of assassinations and threats of violence; it drove some people out of politics. On the other hand, it caused a sharp backlash and unleashed new federal laws that Foner says were a success in terms of "restoring order, reinvigorating the morale of Southern Republicans, and enabling blacks to exercise their rights as citizens."[15] Historian George C. Rable argues that the Klan was a political failure and therefore was discarded by the Democratic leaders of the South. He says:
the Klan declined in strength in part because of internal weaknesses; its lack of central organization and the failure of its leaders to control criminal elements and sadists. More fundamentally, it declined because it failed to achieve its central objective – the overthrow of Republican state governments in the South.[16] Read History

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