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Generation KKK
December 15, 2005 3:08 AM   Subscribe

Generation KKK Documentary photographs of the Ku Klux Klan, 1988-2002, by James Edward Bates.
posted by jack_mo (36 comments total)

 
Is this the Progressive Klan?
posted by Mijo Bijo at 3:20 AM on December 15, 2005


Interesting to see many of them with their faces on show; I thought they all wore those big wizard hats. Hate is one thing, but to be proud of it as well? That's really scary.

I never did understand klan costumes. Seems more like S&M than KKK to me.
posted by londonmark at 3:27 AM on December 15, 2005


Nice jammies.

(Great photos.)
posted by milquetoast at 3:30 AM on December 15, 2005


Parade in Washington, DC, 1928

other images here and here
posted by matteo at 4:20 AM on December 15, 2005


I never did understand klan costumes. Seems more like S&M than KKK to me.

Studded leather would certainly be an improvement. How does the KKK expect to intimidate the mongrel races dressed in white pope robes and duncecaps?
posted by three blind mice at 4:21 AM on December 15, 2005


I lived in Ithaca, in wester NY, for three years. Cornell had an exhibition of photos from the 1920s while I was there: Of public Klan gatherings in the area. They were scary and weirdly impressive: Seas of white robes and peaked hats, gathered in places I recognized. One shot, apparently from a plane, showed a gathering of perhaps a thousand or more on a plain by the lake, in an area that's now covered with houses built between the wars.

There aren't very many black people in Ithaca back then, and there was probably a lower proportion of them back then. But there were lots of Catholics. And back then, and in Western NY, the Klan was mostly an anti-Catholic group.

The KKK is an amazingly resilient organization. Depending on the time and place, it's been anti-Yankee, anti-Semite, anti-Catholic, always anti-Black, and these day's it seems to want to be White Power. It's whatever it needs to be in order to exploit the fears of the moment.
posted by lodurr at 4:27 AM on December 15, 2005


three blind mice writes "How does the KKK expect to intimidate the mongrel races dressed in white pope robes and duncecaps?"

I believe that when the duncecapped white popes start beating the crap out of them, hanging them from trees, burning crosses in their yards and making their lifes in general into a racist hell, even the most gentle and naive mongrel races understand the message.
posted by nkyad at 5:13 AM on December 15, 2005


I never did understand klan costumes. Seems more like S&M than KKK to me.

I believe the Klan originally dressed in white robes because they wanted to pretend they were the ghosts of dead confederates in order to better scare people.

Interesting to see many of them with their faces on show

Many localities have passed "anti-mask laws" that say marchers or demonstrators cannot wear masks. I thnk this was a way to crack down on the KKK without specifically naming them.
posted by marxchivist at 5:39 AM on December 15, 2005


How can anyone look at these photos and not think they're the superior race? (shudder)
posted by fungible at 6:12 AM on December 15, 2005


Society's dregs on parade.
posted by caddis at 6:24 AM on December 15, 2005


I don't want these people in my monkeysphere.
posted by anomie at 6:30 AM on December 15, 2005


They still quite literally parade down Main Street in Columbia, SC, or did until comparatively recently. I found the pointy-headed hats to be appropriate.
posted by alumshubby at 6:31 AM on December 15, 2005


This is very scary, but not in the way the KKK intended.
posted by fish tick at 6:35 AM on December 15, 2005


I remember this John Callahan cartoon showing two Klansmen in robes going out and one turns to the other and says "Don't you just love it when they're still warm from the dryer?"

That was funny.

As far as I'm concerned the KKK and it's ilk are by turns laughable and horrifying, but like any other gang or terrorist group (and that's ultimately what they are, both), they still pull in disaffected young white males who's anger could be better used elsewhere. It'd behoove us to figure out why. Root causes and all that.
posted by jonmc at 6:46 AM on December 15, 2005


I just come to realize that I've never seen any one dressed as a klansmen for Halloween...
posted by NewBornHippy at 6:55 AM on December 15, 2005


Well, on the Simpsons, they did have those retired Itchy & Scratchy characters, who included one called Ku Klux Clam, which I have to admit made me laugh out loud.

Generally, though these days, fringe wackjobs like the Klan are trotted out so that we can all make a "brave," moral stance that "the KKK is bad!" rather than looking at our own parts in the racial situation. Just saying.
posted by jonmc at 7:04 AM on December 15, 2005


My words of wisdom:
Do NOT laugh at them when you are alone and you bumb into them in full costume.

This picture reminded me of something similar I came across. My first reaction was to laugh - and they were none too pleased.

Don't even start up with the "I would have gotten in the face" - they are intimidating as a group and when pumped up for their functions.

The pictures with children make me very sad.
posted by fluffycreature at 7:05 AM on December 15, 2005


There's an interview with Bates in the latest American Photo magazine (the one with the Pam Anderson photo on the cover - ugh) about how he's had a very hard time getting any images from this story published in the US.
posted by photoslob at 7:29 AM on December 15, 2005


I second what jonmc said. Please check out this valuable speech by Tim Wise. (who actually organized against David Duke in the nineties.)

meanwhile, I would adhere to the (un)common wisdom,

"these days you can't see who's in cahoots / 'cause the KKK is wearing three-piece suits."
posted by eustatic at 7:37 AM on December 15, 2005


I never knew women were allowed to participate in Klan functions. Has that always been true?
posted by piers at 8:15 AM on December 15, 2005


There's an interview with Bates in the latest American Photo magazine (the one with the Pam Anderson photo on the cover - ugh) about how he's had a very hard time getting any images from this story published in the US.

I did think it strange that so far the show has only been on show in France and Scotland. (It's on now at St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art in Glasgow.)

The pictures with children make me very sad.

The shot of a four year old boy trying on his first hood is one of the best images, I think.
posted by jack_mo at 8:18 AM on December 15, 2005


There's a few hundred different groups calling themselves "Klans," piers, and lots of other sympathizer groups. They all have different rules and approaches.
posted by jonmc at 8:19 AM on December 15, 2005


I second jonmc and eustatic.

Great photos, by the by. Great link.

Also, I'm reminded of a some smart words from good old Ebert, regarding the glamorization of the Klan in the works of John Grisham:
How will these words affect them? In both ``A Time to Kill' and ``The Chamber,' the Ku Klux Klan, with its secret meetings and ghostly costumes, is presented in a way that is technically negative but could seem thrilling. The films portray the Klan as criminal, racist and anonymous, but those have always been its selling points; it is not portrayed as boring and stupid.
And that sort of gets to the thing about the Klan. It's an organization with hateful views and horrific acts to its name, but it's also mostly disaffected morons, and not even the disaffected morons with much power.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:21 AM on December 15, 2005


This photo series does nothing but reinforce the stereotype that all KKK members are dumb hicks (at least in my close-minded Northern liberal mind).
posted by adamms222 at 8:38 AM on December 15, 2005


This photo series does nothing but reinforce the stereotype that all KKK members are dumb hicks

Probably much of the rank and file are. Some of the leaders are actually brilliant and charismatic (in the Maciavellian sense), such as Thom Metzger. The skins are basically disaffected young thugs who could have just as easily found themselves in a religious cult or a motorcycle gang, but for happenstance.

And the North has it's share of bigots, include those of my liberal brethren who are smetimes racist in ways they can't even see.
posted by jonmc at 8:45 AM on December 15, 2005


It may interesting to contrast the reaction one gets from these photos versus this online exhibit, known as the African American Holocaust, which focuses more on the victims of racism (NSFW).
posted by O Blitiri at 9:26 AM on December 15, 2005


Aug 08, 1998; Crowley, Louisiana, USA; A child swings from a giant noose hanging from an oak tree during a private rally of America's Invisible Empire of the Ku Klux Klan.

The picture behind this caption isn't what I expected to see.
posted by milnak at 9:27 AM on December 15, 2005


This photo series does nothing but reinforce the stereotype that all KKK members are dumb hicks
Ridicule is the best defense against these jerks, in my opinion. People think twice about joining organizations that are thought to be composed of idiots. This site is just a testimony to the Klan's photogenic properties, not its influence.

The tradition of constructive ridicule goes back at least to Joseph Mitchell's The Downfall of Fascism in Black Ankle County.

The utter decline of this movement probably woudn't have made such a good photo essay.
posted by QuietDesperation at 9:44 AM on December 15, 2005


There sure are a lot of ugly fat guys with ridiculous mustaches and misshapen heads. Truly the finest members of the white race.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:05 AM on December 15, 2005


There sure are a lot of ugly fat guys with ridiculous mustaches and misshapen heads.

Gee, if that's how humanity sees someone, is it any wonder the run for the embrace of the first group of zealots who'll have them.

(not picking on you optimus, but my point is, if somebody's told they're nothing often enough, they'll eventually come back claiming to be everything. It's true of the Al Qaeda types, the Crips & Bloods, The NOI, and of these jokers, too)
posted by jonmc at 10:53 AM on December 15, 2005


I guess. But there are plenty of small-minded racist idiots with connections and money. For instance, the nephew of AZ State Senator Thayer Verschoor is a neo-Nazi, so it's not like he had no one to turn to.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:26 AM on December 15, 2005


.
posted by brundlefly at 12:02 PM on December 15, 2005


But there are plenty of small-minded racist idiots with connections and money.

And those are the one's worth worrying about. Not the buffoons who parade around in sheets.
posted by jonmc at 12:18 PM on December 15, 2005


...my liberal brethren who are sometimes racist in ways they can't even see.

I think we get your point, Jon, but there's a mile of difference between those clutching their handbags while backing up in the elevator to those ignighting crosses and (at least historically) filling shallow graves.

Who was it who said that at least with the Klan and such, you at least get their biases up out front.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:19 PM on December 15, 2005


I think we get your point, Jon, but there's a mile of difference between those clutching their handbags while backing up in the elevator to those ignighting crosses and (at least historically) filling shallow graves.

Agreed, but that wasn't what I was talking about, more the Great White Bwana syndrome of needing to see minorities as helpless victims whom we can save. But that's nowhere near as bad as the outright haters, true.
posted by jonmc at 12:24 PM on December 15, 2005


This is from the Washington Post review of Blood in the Face, the 1991 documentary on white supremacist groups:

"Poorly educated, potbellied and paranoid for the most part, the older pillars of the far right recall evil Southern sheriffs. But there are also political candidates in neat suits, sweet-voiced housewives and fresh-faced youths, their ordinariness so weirdly contrasting with their twisted ideals." -- Rita Kempley

I think the alliteration "poorly educated, potbellied and paranoid" nails it.
posted by Devils Slide at 9:42 PM on December 15, 2005


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