KKK: The Fight for White Supremacy is a good TV doc by Dan Murdoch, which rather neatly allows the notorious hate organisation to make itself look both ridiculous and abhorrent. That might sound all too easy, but one can readily imagine a doc mocking the Klan and thus making them seem like a more or less harmless anachronism — Louis Theroux’s stuff occasionally comes close to that. And there are some atmospheric, sinister shots of hooded figures and cross-burnings here which run the risk of making these masked morons look threateningly cool, and we know from their eager flirtation with Nazi imagery that these chumps would far rather look evil than dopey. But they are both, and they largely do Murdoch’s work for him.

“People ask me, if I could travel back in time and not be a racist, would I do it? and I say, not in a million dollars.”

“She has helped me more times than I can count on my fingers and toes.”

Interesting to learn that among the grandiose titles, the Grand Wizards and Dragons, there’s a spiritual leader known as the Klud, which sounds like a plumbing problem. Also, the pasty, doughy racists have a guidebook/pamphlet called the Kloran. I guess that’s meant to be amusing, but it seems like a joke that backfires. Everything about these guys backfires. When they turn up “en masse” to protest the removal of the Confederate flag from outside a courthouse, they get their asses handed to them by anti-racist and black power marchers, and their own flag is stolen and ripped to shreds.

One depressing moment among many: a black protester shouting “Black power!” in the face of a pink-faced white supremacist shouting “White power!” back at him, a feedback loop of unproductive rage in which neither side emerges with credit. Black power was a legitimate demand from a disenfranchised, disempowered and persecuted minority. White power was a dumb response from a majority who love to feel persecuted and put-upon and paranoid. Put them together in a shouting match and it’s pretty depressing — a friend cited Frank Gorshin in Star Trek, if that reference means anything to you (season 3, Let That Be Your Last Battlefield). “What we got here is failure to communicate,” as Strother Martin says in COOL HAND LUKE. There is no hope anywhere in this shot. You have to look outside the frame.


8 Responses to “Klud?”

  1. We have D. W. Griffith to thank for this. The Klan was on its last legs when The Birth of a Nation came along and radically reversed its fortunes.

  2. One idea where the Klan caused much damage to themselves financially in the ’20s was trying to get into entertainment by holding their own Chataquas, creatively called Klantaquas. They lost their shirt on those. There were also the usual boycotts and threats to Jewish-owned theaters, which were not widely effective. The most surprising place where I read of Klan activity against a theater owner was in Long Island.

  3. Despite the modern Klan’s attempts to appear popular and organized, they come off as a sad, dopey anachronism, a sideshow of a sideshow. But they’re still dealing in toxic ideas that have a worrying currency on the web. The Holocaust denial stuff alone is depressing as hell.

  4. “they largely do Murdoch’s work for him” ✓✓

  5. I grew up in a small southern town in the 60’s and the Klan was certainly very present there. The school where I went as an elementary student had a flagpole in front of it with a plaque indicating that it had been donated by the KKK. This vanished one night in 1964. One would also find Klan newspapers on the lawn, left in the night. They were riddled with misspellings and bad grammar—-not to mention stupid ideas. One article that sticks in my memory was one which said soul food was not from Africa as over there they only ate roots and berries and each other. One good side effect of free speech is that it allows bigoted creatures like these to indict themselves with their own words. Sadly the KKK and those of their ilk still seem pretty large in number. These days “flaggers” drive through town with huge confederate flags to demonstrate their loyalty to the attitudes of the past. It is still scary.

  6. La Faustin Says:

  7. Dan Murdoch Says:

    Pleased you enjoyed the film mate. It was an eye opener to make – where do you start with that lot? I’m on the lookout for followups now, so if you come across any interesting characters…!

  8. God bless the tuba player. Didn’t he trail the Klan for months with an undignified comedy soundtrack?

    Thanks, Dan Murdoch! I’ll keep my eye out for characters!

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