The KKK, emboldened by “racial tension,” is seizing the opportunity to increase recruitment. They’re so confident in their message they found themselves dropping recruitment literature in liberal South Austin.
Keep Austin White!?
Nope. They weren’t even that clever.
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Hate Map” doesn’t list an official Knight’s organization in Austin, but many of their materials are hosted online and folks are encouraged to print and distribute them. And, coincidentally or not, two officers were ousted in Williamson County, Texas for being members of the KKK. Perhaps the greatest justice in their case was that they were fired on Juneteenth.
There is a Texas-based Knights group that is planning events across the state including a “White Man March” next Spring in Austin. They claim to be a, “Bible believing, right wing, conservative, Christian organization,” that is, “preparing ourselves and others for the coming disorder that will test the very survival of the White Race.”
They make it clear their top priority is immigration (the multiple grammatical errors are theirs, I simply copied and pasted from their website):
“Our Government wont stop them so we will. Its time to declare war on these illegal mexican’s. We are recruiting now for white men and women to stand up and fight for our country and our race…Time for MEXICO and MEXICANS TO GET THE HELL OUT !!!”
According to the national Klan’s website their main objective is “to win political power,” and it’s clear they plan to use the trumped up anti-immigrant rhetoric for their own campaign.
Donald Trump made the collective political class gasp with his bold pronouncements about immigrants — right before he defied conventional wisdom and rocketed to the top of the GOP presidential field.
He said of our Southern neighbor: “Mexico—they’re taking our jobs. They’re taking our manufacturing. They’re taking our money. They’re killing us at the border,” and to an audience in in Phoenix, Arizona, he delivered the tried and true, “We’ll take our country back.”
The modern Republican Party is known for dog whistlin’ Dixie, but even they cringed at the abrasive tone of Trump. The RNC’s attempts to silence him have only back-fired and enflamed their paranoid, anti-establishment base.
The Southern Poverty Law Center explains in part, the Teflon Don phenomenon:
“Trump’s candidacy comes at a very unique time. The Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage and the move by Southern states to remove the Confederate Battle flag from government property, has created a vacuum for a right-wing populist candidate. And Trump was on hand to fill the void and answer to a sense of rage growing on the radical right. His willingness to speak up about issues dear to the white nationalist cause, and his challenge to the two-party system, are what many white nationalists find most appealing.”
It also comes during the summer in a “non election year.” I use quotations because many states and local governments hold very important elections, but there are no federal contests. Unfortunately, turnout is dismal and just like the GOP primary in Texas (that nominated and ultimately elected indicted AG Ken Paxton) only the most extreme rhetoric drives out the trickle of votes that make it to the polls. The few, the proud and the angry get to determine the policies and priorities of our government.
In a similar vein these voters are now the most attuned to the Presidential election and thus are driving the narrative which Trump has bottled and slapped his label on. This is why the many still think he will flame out as the race gets serious, but in the meantime he is exposing some deep flesh wounds within the GOP. Former KKK Grand Wizard (and Presidential candidate) David Duke has backed Trump’s immigration plan of full deportation, and now with Trump inviting the GOP to actively debate birthright citizenship, his rhetoric is poisoning the mainstream dialogue.
This right wing anti-immigrant revival isn’t an American phenomenon, but it gives us a chance to strongly reject it. I have no doubt the South will rise again, but it won’t be under the Confederacy. At least in Texas, the silent majority is the non-voter.