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Klan rally's a big yawn

July 15, 2004|by TIM ROWLAND

I would like to begin today's sermon with a shout out to Sharpsburg Town Attorney Charles Wagaman, who had these words of wisdom this week for those planning to attend an upcoming Klan rally in August: Do not bring your gun.

According to The Herald-Mail on Tuesday, "People have asked (Wagaman) if firearms can be carried unconcealed at the Aug. 28 rally ... The answer is no, Wagaman said. It doesn't matter if the firearm is concealed or not, the answer is the same."

That's just one of those good, common-sense rules to live by that we should all be teaching our children at a young age: Do not run with scissors; do not take your dog to a funeral; and do not bring your gun to a Klan rally.

"I have told all my men, 'Leave your guns home,'" said Gordon Young, imperial wizard for the World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

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Aw. See there? And here everyone says the Klan is devoid of humanity and sensibility. I always thought attending a Klan rally without a gun was a little like playing handball without a wall, but hey, if the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan are willing to usher in a new era of nonviolent violence against their fellow man, I can only stand back respectfully and applaud.

Sure is a far cry from the old days. Those who say racial acceptance is on too slow a ship should take heart in the fact that somewhere in the monthly Klan newsletter there's a public service announcement to cool it on the weaponry.

I wonder whether this is seen as a concession by modern-day Klan members. Does it depress them? Do they get all teary and nostalgic for the good-old days when everyone carried a shotgun? Is "Mississippi Burning" to a Klansman like "Sleepless in Seattle" is to a woman?

What ought to be worrying the Klan is that only a handful of people have bothered to voice any concern at all over the Aug. 28 parade and rally. No one thinks they're relevant enough anymore to care. "What, the Klan? Oh yeah (yawn), I've heard of them somewhere."

It's like if a group of Sharpsburg Gnostics applied for a permit to hold a rally and sacrifice a chicken to the Soybean Goddess. Two millennia ago, a lot of people might have raised an eyebrow, but today? Bimbos in Australia are far more topical.

I suppose though, that I can understand the sentiments of Paul Breitenbach, who said his business, the Rohrbach Inn, would be affected by the parade. I might think he would welcome the possibility of out-of-town guests, although come to think of it, there probably aren't too many tattooed Klansmen out there who stay at a bed and breakfast. When you're playing word association and someone says "Ku Klux Klan," the first thing that pops into your head is unlikely to be "herbal tea."

Maybe he could drum up some business if he'd call it a bedsheet and breakfast. Because obviously, not too many non-Klan-affiliated people are going to be too crazy about staying there that day. For a profound mental image, just picture a couple of yuppies from Bethesda, Md., who have come out for a pleasant, relaxing, doily-draped weekend in the countryside. They have no more than spread the peach-orange marmalade on their buckwheat toast when they look outside to see a parade of white hoods bouncing past their window.

"Honey, I know you said you wanted to return to a simpler time, but this is ridiculous."

Good thing Money magazine already has gone to print, calling us a "tolerant, up-and-coming" community. I'm thinking Klan rallies don't win you a lot of bonus points in that regard among the number-crunchers at Carnegie Mellon.

Of course, we can only pray that there will be plenty of coverage from the big-city media outlets, which will no doubt portray Washington County's progressiveness in a good, strong light.

But you know how these Klan rallies go - they always draw about three people, and there is a very good chance that each Klan rally will be the last. Perhaps we could use that as a plus - a marketing tool of sorts. When folks drive over South Mountain, there could be a large sign: "Welcome to Washington County - Klan-Free Since 2004.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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