This week in race relations

From big city

Dov-Hikind-facebook-cropped-proto-custom_28A veteran New York Assemblyman on Monday stood by his decision to wear blackface makeup, an Afro wig and a basketball jersey to a costume party in the face of criticism he called “political correctness to the absurd.”

Democratic Assemblyman Dov Hikind wrote on his blog Monday that he doesn’t understand the criticism swirling around Albany and doesn’t know why anyone would be offended by the costume he wore to a party he recently held at his home in Brooklyn to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim.

… to small town America …

north-dakota-kkk-hoods-cropped-proto-custom_28A North Dakota high school principal says appropriate action is being taken after three students briefly donned Ku Klux Klan-style white robes and hoods Friday night during a state hockey semifinal game.

The photo caused an uproar on Twitter when it was posted by 19-year-old Shane Schuster, who was seated with some friends at Ralph Engelstad Arena when something in the student section across the rink caught his eye.

“I thought, ‘Are those KKK hoods?’ I couldn’t believe it,” Schuster said. “I was shocked.”

… some folk just need to be slapped into next week, as my Big Ma used to say. (From TPM)

Westboro Baptist Church vs. the KKK (no, really!)

I think my head just exploded (from the Washington Post):

As President Obama honored fallen soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, three members of the Westboro Baptist Church protested the ceremony, holding signs that read “Pray for more dead soldiers” and “God hates your prayers,” as the controversial group has become known to do. They were met by about 70 counterprotesters, including members from a group just as contentious as the church: the Ku Klux Klan.

Dennis LaBonte, who told CNN he was a military veteran and the “imperial wizard” of a KKK chapter, said the approximately 10 members of the group came in “support of the troops.” LaBonte, who said he’s not a “hate-monger,” said he “thinks that it’s an absolute shame that [the WBC] show up and disrupt people’s funerals.” The group was cordoned off in a separate area and reportedly “drew little attention.”

WBC member Abigail Phelps said the KKK “have no moral authority on anything.”

The Klan guy says he’s not a “hate monger.” The Westboro Baptist gal talks about “moral authority.”

And TV brings it all in our living rooms. I think this is one where you can “blame the media.” We shouldn’t be exposed to anything these people say, but here it is.

Klassic Klown Kollapse

The Southern Poverty Law Center keeps pretty close tabs on the goings on of hate groups across the nation. It looks like the granddaddy of American hate is doddering into senility:

International Imperial Wizard Railton Loy and his son, Indiana Grand Dragon Richard Loy, hosted what was widely billed as a “Christmas unity rally” on Dec. 8 at the younger Loy’s Osceola, Ind., farm.

They hoped to bring together various factions of the contentious world of professional racists, and indeed, they drew members of two far larger groups — the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nations, which sent propaganda chief August Kreis.

Close to 50 people gathered for the Saturday afternoon dinner and cross burning.

As hungry racists filed into the shed where food was being served, it quickly became apparent that the Loys had forgotten a critical fact: Large numbers of Klansmen are followers of Christian Identity, a theology that holds that Jews are biologically Satanic and whites are the true Israelites — meaning that according to their reading of the Bible, whites can’t eat pork.

When they strolled into the shed and were confronted by a dead pig that by all accounts was barely cooked, several Klansmen and Aryan Nations members reacted with horror.

As amazed Klansmen circulated and clucked about the culinary faux pas — and while a red-suited “Klanta Klaus” worked the crowd nearby — some got to wondering why Rick Loy had a badly swollen lip and two missing front teeth. Soon enough, the story came out, provoking a fresh round of mirth.

After being presented with a riot shield that was alleged to be bulletproof, Loy had apparently decided to put the matter to a test, firing a round into the shield at close range.

Unsurprisingly, the bullet ricocheted off the shield — which stood up to the tryout admirably — and hit Loy in mouth. Several Klansmen noted privately that the elder Loy should be glad his son wasn’t told the shield was bombproof.

Meanwhile, Slate says the Klan doesn’t even have an appealing image among racists:

Klan-watchers, however, suspect that the nation’s oldest domestic terrorist organization is indeed struggling to keep pace with other racist hate groups. Young racists tend to think of the Klan as their grandfathers’ hate group, and of its members as rural, uneducated, and technologically unsophisticated. The Klan doesn’t seem to have used the web and social media as well as its competitors.

But even if the group is easy to mock, it’s still a hate group. And it’s still a danger to a lot of innocent people. The SPLC notes that overall, things are getting worse:

The American radical right grew explosively in 2011, a third consecutive year of extraordinary growth that has swelled the ranks of extremist groups to record levels, according to a report issued today by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The rise was led by a stunning expansion of the antigovernment “Patriot” movement.

“The dramatic expansion of the radical right is the result of our country’s changing racial demographics, the increased pace of globalization, and our economic woes,” said Mark Potok, senior fellow at the SPLC and editor of the new report.

“For many extremists, President Obama is the new symbol of all that’s wrong with the country – the Kenyan president, the secret Muslim who is causing our country’s decline,” Potok said. “The election season’s overheated political rhetoric is adding fuel to the fire. The more polarized the political scene, the more people at the extremes.”

Let’s step back a moment and look at those last two sentences: “The election season’s overheated political rhetoric is adding fuel to the fire. The more polarized the political scene, the more people at the extremes.”

Now, just take a wild guess. Which political party is responsible for overheated political rhetoric? Which political party is polarizing the political scene?

It would have just been simpler for Potok to say hate group numbers are at a dangerous level because the GOP, Fox News, the Tea Party and the political right is instigating and promoting a radical, violent political agenda.

Ronald Reagan meets the KKK … in a movie

A little surprise while channel surfing.

I catch the end of a movie and there are a bunch of Klansmen (yes, KKK types) gathered around a burning cross, and Ronald Reagan enters the picture greeting what seems to be everyone by name.

Now this is the 1950s, so he’s not campaigning for votes from the base. This is one of those “social awareness” movies, and though this is a Klan rally, and the cross is burning, and they’re about to do something bad to someone, you naturally look around and wonder, “where’s the black guy?”

But it turns out, the Klan isn’t holding a black guy. They’re holding Ginger Rogers (I don’t know. Maybe they didn’t like one of her dance routines). And when Ronald Reagan makes them release her, Doris Day runs in and gets shot by a Klansman who appears to be her husband (I don’t know. Maybe he didn’t want to hear her sing “Que sera sera.).

I’m very confused.

The movie is “Storm Warning” from 1951. As far as I can tell, there are no black people in it. I suspect Warner Brothers didn’t want to offend moviegoers in the South by having black people in a film about the KKK. Which sort of misses the point, right?