Ku Klux Klan (KKK) is significant in the history of the United States, as far as its radicalized views were concerned. Apparently, KKK was identified as the secret movement composed of the White Southerners, which was mainly founded after the completion of the U.S. Civil War. From the manifesto of the KKK, it can be asserted that this movement was founded to rebel against Black emancipation as well as opposing the dominance of the Northern. As a way of achieving its mission, KKK embarked on applying violence on various minority groups such as the Jewish people, the Blacks and others who were perceived to be a threat to the White supremacy in the United States. It can, therefore, be contended that KKK was a tool used by some section of the White Southerners, aimed at frustrating the efforts of achieving an equal socio-economic and political society for everyone.
Establishment and Reasons for the Formation of Ku Klux Klan
KKK was formed in 1866 in Pulaski, and by 1870, a huge number of the southern states had subscribed to this outlawed organization. This prompted KKK to become a crucial and vibrant tool that opposed the establishment of the political and economic impartiality for blacks in the country (History Newsletter 2). The followers of the KKK resorted to the use of crude means such as violence and intimidation when it comes to their perpetuation of the underground campaign. The main agenda of their campaign was to resist any form of the Black emancipation. As a way of achieving its goals, the KKK members came up with strategies that directly hampered the efforts of the Black and White leaders aligned to the Republican Party. The Republican Party had been integral in coming up with policies that focused on the reconstruction of various structures in the country.
Initially, the KKK was formed on the basis of being a social club for the soldiers who had worked as the Confederate soldiers. Soon, the KKK changed its cause making it adopt ideologies that made it act as a terrorist group that was out to destroy and hinder the efforts of the Republican-led president. The inception of the KKK was compounded with mass killings of the people, mainly from Jewish and Black ethnicities (Glass 2). The violence and intimidation approach when it comes to opposing the efforts of the federal government to reconstruct the economy and the stability of the country led to the weakening of the political stabilities of the blacks and the Republicans not only in the Southern region but also in the entire country.
Racial and other prejudices labeled against the minority in the society was also another element that motivated the rise of the KKK. The White supremacists embarked on carrying out racist deeds in the south that mainly reminded the black people that they did not deserve to be part of the country (History Newsletter 3). Riots targeting the Black Americans and other whites supporting the Republican-led federal government became a common thing during the peak of the KKK operations.
For instance, in 1886, there was a reported skirmish between the White ex-soldiers in support of KKK and the former Black soldiers that took place in Memphis, Tennessee. This led to the outbreak of huge protests and riots that resulted in property destruction and deaths. There was a series of attacks by white mobs on the black people, which elicited fights between these two racial groups. In the New Orleans, the whites, who were the members of the KKK embarked on killing spree by attacking the black people who had converged in the Black Suffrage Convention. After the attacks, 37 people were reported to be dead with others sustaining serious injuries (Glass 3). These killings created a volatile environment in the United States, characterized by great animosity between the Black people and the whites who were deemed to be the staunch supporters of the KKK manifestos.
KKK continued growing: A feat that invoked fear and concerns over the heritage and cohesion of the United States. Apparently, the KKK movement relentlessly thrived under the violent atmosphere that had been created by its members. At the end of 1866, so prevalent was the growth of the KKK as an outlawed terror group that its members opted to call it The Invisible Empire of the South (American Experience 2). The followers of KKK were also in awe of their leader; Nathan Bedford Forest, who was among the founders of the group as well as taking part in the Civil War as Confederate General. Nathan Bedford Forest was mainly identified by KKK subscribers as Grand Wizard for being their first leader and an individual who was fully dedicated to achieving the goals and the cause of the organization.
Having realized the escalating menace and crisis brought by KKK, the Congress moved swiftly to introduce laws that meant to combat KKKs threat in the cohesion and reconstruction. The United States had just experienced the Civil War, which brought a lot of destruction to its socio-economic and political stabilities. The last thing that the Congress wanted to see was KKK plunging the entire country into another war. This prompted the Congress to find ways of barring the growing influence of the KKK the whole country (History Newsletter 3). However, the Congresss efforts when it comes to curbing the activities of the KKK were inefficient and unsuccessful. The KKK continued pushing for its main agenda which was to establish the White Supremacy in the country. This was facilitated through its democratic triumphs experienced in the state legislatures that dominated the Southerners in the 1870s.
The continued terrorizing of the people from particular communities (mainly Blacks) made Bedford Forest reevaluate the purpose and the cause of the group. In 1869, he started pushing for the disbanding of the group he had co-founded. However, Forest failed to persuade the top stakeholders of the group to dissolve it (Glass 2). As a way of curbing the escalating threat of the KKK, the Congress, which was mainly led by Republican Party, successfully passed the bill known as Ku Klux Act. This bill gave President Ulysses Grant a mandate of applying military force to contain the threat posed by KKK, as a terror group. The implementation of this bill saw nine counties from South Carolina put under the rule of the martial law. However, the governments efforts to suppress the activities of KKK hit a snag when the Supreme Court, in 1882, ruled that the Ku Klux Act was unconditional, thus suspending it until further amendments.
Towards the completion of the Reconstruction era, KKK had endured a massive decline, making it be almost non-existent. In 1995, there emerged a new group that opted to use the same brand of KKK. This new group drew most of its ideologies from the film by D.W. Griffith, which gave a detailed documentary entitled The Birth of the Nation (Glass 3). Apparently, this film praised the initial KKK movement, something that inspired the new members to re-establish the group. The newly re-formed KKK was also composed of the whitehooded followers who supported white supremacy, just like the original members. Furthermore, the new members also against Semitism and Catholicism as well as advocating for racism virulent approach of nativism.
The KKK movement extensively suffered a major setback in wake of depression when its popularity faded away significantly. During the Second World War, KKK decided to be pro-Nazi ideology. This move backfired when it comes to the growth of its members since it elicited criticism even from its own members for supporting the infamous Nazi philosophies (Glass 3). In the present times, it is asserted that KKK has as lower as 3000 members who are deemed to be active and still believing in its cause. The remnant members mainly consist of various splinter groups. The current existence of the KKK movement is supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, which advocates for the groups constitutional freedom to call for public rallies as well as being allowed to field a candidate of their own choice when it comes to political contests for public offices.
Ku Klux Klan as the origin of Extremism in America.
According to the ideologies on which KKK operated, it can be claimed that it paved the way for the emergence of various forms of extremism in the United States. Apparently, violent extremism is considered to be beliefs or actions perpetuated by some section of people in the community or a country which advocate the use of violence when it comes to achieving their religious purposes as well as political objectives. Extremism is therefore associated with acts of terrorism and other illustrated communal violence. According to its ideologies, it can be asserted that KKK was composed of extremist members who prevailed by directing their strong hatred to the Jewish and the blacks in the United States (Bond 17). The group was also characterized by homophobic creeds that prompted them to carry out horrific and inhuman acts through violence directed towards religious and other minority ethnic populations.
Extremism is characterized by unwavering certainty amongst its practitioners. Apparently, this feature is what drove the members of the KKK, making it be termed as an extremist group. The KKK members believed in their ideologies and were willing to defend the cause of the group by even entering into battle with those who opposed them. To stake their claims and existence in the society, the KKK members were always ready to start conflicts that would result to violence and riots. It follows that KKK was strong whenever there was tension in the society (Bond 25). An occurrence of violence or any form of unrest gave the KKK leaders a chance to demonstrate the groups significance, which in turn helped in the escalation of its popularity in the country.
The stern opposition of the KKK towards the federal government, the Blacks, and other minority ethnic groups was depicted when the Supreme Court overlooked the doctrine of the Separate but equal (Bond 26). Instead of endorsing this principle, which was strongly advocated by KK, the Supreme Court opted to support school integration policy in 1954. A large section of White Southerners maintained their position when it comes to opposing the new ruling by the Supreme Court. The opportunistic leader of KKK took this chance to push for their objectives, which involved calling for the maintaining and upholding the practice of racial segregation in the country. The fear and tension that ensued after the passing of the law that abolished segregation, led to the renaissance of the KKK movement. This indicates as an extremist group; it thrived on the presence of fear and violence in the country.
Other than the Klan for the United States, there were also other organizations that rivaled KKK when it comes to seizure or exertion of their powers and dominance in the south. Just like KKK strategies, the other outlawed groups also embarked on the use of violence and other acts of extremism to seize a stronghold in the region (Bond 27). For instance, Alabama, which was considered to be a splinter group of the KKK took responsibility of assaulting Edward Arron. Edward was identified as a black handyman who hailed from Birmingham. To highlight the gruesome and inhuman nature of the group, the members of Alabama opted to kidnap Edward. They then proceeded to castrate as well as pouring hot turpentine into his fresh wounds. This was an of violence that elicited sharp criticism and outcries, not only from the Black Americans but also from the federal government, highlighting the severity of the violent measures that the KKK and faction groups were doing in the society.
As an extremist group, KKK was also vulnerable to the leadership it adopted. The group risked to be disintegrated whenever its core leader stopped supporting it:...
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