Fans lacking as Klan's park tour continues

October 03, 2006|by TIM ROWLAND

So now, following on the heels of its Antietam and Gettysburg Battlefield tour, the Ku Klux Klan is sallying forth to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park later this month for its next rally - if a dozen people or so a rally make.

It's more like a rallette, I would think.

In a way, I suppose it makes sense, as you can argue that Harpers Ferry is "the place it all began," so the Klan showing up on John Brown's doorstep is just as natural as the Beatles returning to Liverpool or Michael Moore returning to the breakfast bar at Stuckey's.

The Klan has a theme this time, you know. It's called "Black Crimes in White America."

I don't know - I guess it's OK as themes go, although I'm not entirely sold on it. Sounds a little too academic to me. I mean, this is supposed to be the Klan, the cross-burning, gun-shooting, minority-lynching, whiskey-swilling Grand Freaking Dragon Klux Wizard Klan, or whatever.


And the best you can scrape together is "Black Crimes in White America?" That's not a rally, that's a seminar in the hotel conference room. It's a master's thesis or a photography exhibit.

Memo to Klan: Don't put too much thought into this - it's not your strength. And don't go tweed jacket on us. Just keep entertaining us all with your hootin' and your hollerin' in your camo and pillowcase garb. Just don't get too close to the Civil War re-enactor encampment, or your head will get mistaken for a pup tent.

Matter of fact, Klansmen themselves are a lot like re-enactors, not of thought, but of method. Sort of a window into the 1920s. And like Civil War re-enactments where a hundred guys or so try to represent an army of 10,000, about 10 Klansman now stand where 1,000 of them stood before.

So the effort cannot be said to be going well. If you have social revolution on your mind, it's not good when people start seeing you as quaint - taking pictures and home videos of you to show Aunt Alice, right between the footage of the apple-butter churning demonstration and the white-water kayaking lessons.

Even more troublesome is that a landmark, of sorts, has occurred. The announced rally didn't make the front page of the paper. That has to be a first, and another mile marker into the slide into obscurity.

If you got yourself a highly incendiary, hell-raising hate group and you announce that you have some major social and racial hatin' on the agenda - and you get bumped off the front page by "Pa. regulators award first slot machine licenses?"

Ouch. That's not just a gradual slide, that's Enron stock. Lucky for the Klan there wasn't anything going on in the Tri-State involving feral cats, or its story would have been sharing time on B7 with the Chicago grain report.

Without people to pay attention to the Klan, there is no Klan.

And the Klan's "poor whitey" message just keeps getting closer and closer to fossil status. The Klan huffily says that blacks can hold a black pride celebration but whites can't hold white pride celebrations.

This is just a wild guess, but I bet if blacks had the choice between 1. A black pride celebration or 2. Not having their ancestors spend four centuries in chains on American soil, I'm pretty sure they would be more than happy to sacrifice the parade.

And speaking of parades, where does the Klan go marching on from here? Antietam, Gettysburg, Harpers Ferry. I like the national park theme, although this way you don't know whether the Klan is a white supremacist group or a travel agency.

I hope they thought to get the national park season-pass discount. "The Klan Does Yosemite" would be a lot cheaper that way. Just try not to get knocked aside by the Pennsylvania regulators on your way there.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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