Post-Modern Bigots, Defending Their “Culture”

You may have heard that a Ku Klux Klan group plans to hold a rally at the South Carolina Statehouse next month protesting the likely ejection of the Confederate Battle Flag from the grounds. Here’s a brief account from WaPo’s Abby Phillip:

The self-proclaimed largest Ku Klux Klan group in America plans to rally outside of the South Carolina statehouse next month, state officials confirmed.

The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, a group that according to its Web site is based in Pelham, N.C., requested permission to rally on the statehouse grounds on July 18 from 3 to 5 p.m., according to Brian Gaines, a spokesman for the state’s Budget and Control Board….

The Klan group said they expect about 200 people to attend….

Now here’s where it gets rich:

The group’s Web site prominently displays several versions of the Confederate flag and calls on followers to oppose an attempt at “cultural genocide.”

“If you can’t tell they are trying to wipe us out of the history book,” it says.

Matter of fact, the Klansmen have it exactly wrong: the whole idea is to consign the Confederacy–and along with it the neo-Confederate terrorists, including the Klan, who brandished the Battle Flag during Reconstruction and the twentieth-century fight to preserve Jim Crow–to “the history book.”

But I had to laugh out loud at the claim by a Klan group of being victims of “cultural genocide.” The first time I heard that term was back in the late 1960s, when the White Panther Party founder and member of the revolutionary rock band MC5 John Sinclair had his hair cut by his Oakland County, Michigan jailers and called it “cultural genocide.”

Now to be clear, there is a phenomenon rightly called “cultural genocide” in which a group of people, usually a minority, is denied use of its language, music, artifacts, religion, and other essentials of “culture.” Classic examples include Canada’s re-education camps for Native American children; Spain’s attempted eradication of the Basque and Catalan languages at the end of the Civil War; various “Germanification” and “Russification” programs carried out by wildly different regimes over the centuries against Poles and other Eastern European and Central Asian populations; the Chinese Communist effort to more or less abolish Tibet, etc. etc. Here in the U.S., you had South Carolina’s campaign to wipe out schools and even churches–like Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church–among African-American slaves.

The idea, however, that us crackers are victims because we cannot receive public sanction or subsidies for celebration of the most shameful phases of our history, and impose that legacy on our states and our entire region, is laughable. And Klansmen whining about “cultural genocide” is the latest and greatest example of how conservative extremists have internalized a modernist, or perhaps post-modernist, sensibility.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.