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Questions someone should ask Klan members June 10

May 16, 2006

There are those who tend to look at modern-day Ku Klux Klan members as the equivalent of rebellious teens who have their bodies pierced in a bid to outrage their parents and/or call attention to themselves.

Others see Klan members as people on the margins of society, drawn to the group because of a need to belong or to find someone to blame for their own lack of success.

Which is it? Without talking to members, it's difficult to say. It is an activity we would recommend as part of the anti-Klan activities planned for June 10, when World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan plan to rally at Antietam National Battlefield.

Counter-Klan activities now planned include: At 9 a.m., an interfaith service at the historic Dunker Church and a variety of events at Taylor Park in Keedysville from 1 to 5 p.m. Other events, including a talent show for youth, are now being planned.

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The purpose of all these events is to provide an alternative to the Klan rally, set from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Mumma Farmstead.

But what about those who will participate in the rally? If they are ignored by everyone but their own members, won't that tend to bind them more closely to the group?

In our view, someone needs to talk to these people and ask them what it was that drew them to the philosophy of racial superiority and what keeps them involved.

Such a conversation would force those members to justify their beliefs and perhaps to re-examine them, particularly if they're asked the right questions.

For example, if the Klan of the 1860s had succeeded in suppressing African-Americans, development of a number of inventions would have been lost or at least delayed.

According to the Smithsonian Institution, the list of inventions attributed to African-Americans includes: Traffic signals, the gas mask, bleach and the preservation of blood for tranfusions.

Would Klan members be willing to go back to life without these developments, or might some of them rethink their beliefs?

It may yield nothing, but to assume before trying that it would be hopeless seems as close-minded as those we hope someone will try to reach.

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