Is this an early April Fool’s prank, or has everyone at the Scripps Howard News Service been hit with the stupid stick — hard?

I read the piece with ever-increasing slack-jawed amazement, my eyebrows raised so high they nearly met my hairline. Clearly an attempt to portray the kinder, gentler side of the Klan, it is an epic journalistic fail. Here’s the first line: “There’s a lot to be angry about if you’re in the KKK.” Well, that’s one way of putting it! It goes on from there:

As local leader of the Loyal White Knights, Edward the Exalted Cyclops organized a barbecue last month to make plans for Saturday’s demonstration to show that white people still have rights.

Edward curses sparingly, drinks rarely, and keeps his hair clipped short — his tribute to his old-fashioned Christian values.

Does that read like a pitch-perfect Onion parody, or what? I mean, Edward the Exalted Cyclops? Hosting a barbecue?? And yes, you might, I suppose, describe decades of brutal racist terror and violence as “old-fashioned Christian values”– but only if you are a very mischievous atheist or anti-clerical-ist indeed.

The story describes plans for a Klan rally in Memphis today to “celebrate white people’s rights.” Yes, it really says that — unironically, and without challenge! According to one Klansmen, it is a protest against attempts “to erase white people out of the history books.” There are many other inadvertently hilarious moments in this LOL-rich article; my favorite is “communists (known as liberals today)” (and no, that’s not a quote from a Klansman — those are the reporter’s own words, a clumsy attempt at a paraphrase I suppose).

Essentially, the reporter is covering a Klan rally as if it were no different than a Sunday school picnic. It should be emphasized that the only people interviewed for or cited in the article are Klansmen and one academic who says something neutral and academicky. No anti-Klan experts or activists are interviewed or cited in this trainwreck of an article.

I have some advice for the reporter and editor responsible for this wretched POS, which by all rights should be a career-ender. Attempt to save face by passing this off as an early April Fool’s joke gone horribly wrong, and submit your resumes to The Onion ASAP. You may well have a genius for the kind of stories they publish — albeit an inadvertent one.

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Kathleen Geier

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee