Based on the uttering of one self-identified “Exalted Cyclops,” a mass of television, internet, and print reporters have declared that Klansmen will be coming to Memphis, Tennessee and protest the renaming of several Confederate memorials in that city. The number “5,000” is usually floated along with this “fact.”
While the venerable Southern Poverty Law Center is consulted about Klan membership numbers, as it should be, no other Klansmen are cited by reporters for confirmation, despite the fact that many of their contact phone numbers are listed on their easily accessible web pages.
This writer, also, did not bother to call any Klansmen—knowing their well-deserved reputation for inflating their numbers. I did, however, dig around a bit on the web and found little evidence that a march was being organized—publicly at least, which is how anyone (including the Klan) attracts any numbers to do anything.
Thom Robb’s Knights of the Ku Klux Klan have several events publicized on its website. One will be in Tennessee; in Pulaski next October. Going to Pulaski, where the first Klan was formed after the Civil War, is a longtime ritual for Robb. Aryan Nations members, skinheads and others of that ilk used to march with him. Now, most of his events are at his Klan homestead in the northern Arkansas hills where he can charge a fee for folks to attend.
The Southern Alliance of Klans has no events announcements up on its website. Ditto the Georgia Knight Riders. The Mississippi White Knights is planning a cross burning at Brices Crossroads in Mississippi in April, near the spot of a Confederate Army victory in 1862. No word from the Northern Mississippi White Knights.
You get the picture.
The only discussion of this possible event I found was on the Stormfront site. There the Imperial Kaltrop and King Kleagle (chief recruiter) of the Traditionalist American Knights in Park Hills, Missouri wrote several scathing posts about the Memphis city council’s changes. And the Kleagle did issue a call to action, although there is no announcement of a rally on the Traditionalists’ site. Park Hills is south of St. Louis and the Traditionalist Knights seemed to like to rally in Tennessee. And when they gather in the woods, they do like to wear their hoods and pose for pictures. Tennessee has a mask law, however, designed to keep marauding Kluxers from hiding their faces. And you can’t march in Memphis with your face covered, a fact that was discussed elsewhere on this website.
That doesn’t mean Memphis is off the hook. It suffers from having a white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens chapter, and Tea Partiers hold sway in too many corners of the state’s life. And there may, just may, be a Klan march or rally in its future. Reporters from all media, however, should just check the facts before they declare something a fait d’accompli.
is president of IREHR. For almost three decades, he has been a leading authority on white nationalist political and social movements. He is the author of Blood and Politics: The History of White Nationalism from the Margins to the Mainstream, published by Farrar Straus & Giroux in May 2009. more...