Capes vs. Hoods
August 11, 2005 7:33 AM   Subscribe

Superman Takes on the KKK. In the 1940s, reporter Stetson Kennedy infiltrated the Klu Klux Klan, gathering information on everything from their membership to their secret code words . Kennedy then gave this information to the producers of the Superman radio show. The resulting episodes, titled “Clan of the Fiery Cross” (listen to them here)incorporated actual Klan terminology and rituals, exposing the nation to the inner workings of this “secret” organization.
posted by jrossi4r (29 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Kennedy has written several books, inspired a song by Woody Guthrie and is finding new fans thanks to coverage of this story in Freakonomics.
posted by jrossi4r at 7:35 AM on August 11, 2005

This story was also featured in an episode of This American Life.
posted by gwint at 7:37 AM on August 11, 2005

He's still a dick, though. You think instead of building an orbital watchtower, Supes could've spent his more recent years rallying for the Southern Poverty Law Center. But, nooooooo!
posted by Smart Dalek at 7:42 AM on August 11, 2005

The Southern Poverty Law Center has a WRC team now? Cool. I'd go see that even without Superman driving.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:46 AM on August 11, 2005

I'll take Morris Dees over Clark Kent any day.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:51 AM on August 11, 2005

That's a great story. I'm one of the people who first heard about it through Freakonomics; I could hardly believe how lame the Klan's super-spy tactics were (Mr. Ayak? mr. Akai? Klonversations at the klavern?!?. Of course, I suppose the bar's pretty low when you're dealing with the Klan.

It is unfortunate that Kennedy (and Superman) left enough of a remnant of the Klan that they were able to take Joey Ramone's baby away.
posted by COBRA! at 7:58 AM on August 11, 2005

Ku, not Klu.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:59 AM on August 11, 2005

Ku, not Klu.
posted by Kwantsar at 10:59 AM EST on August 11 [!]

Damn. Didn't even notice that. All the talk of klonversations at the klavern rattled my brain.
posted by jrossi4r at 8:02 AM on August 11, 2005

Ku, not Klu.

Yeah. Klu wouldn't have anything to do with these fuckers.
posted by jonmc at 8:09 AM on August 11, 2005

All the talk of klonversations at the klavern rattled my brain.

Truly a sign of a kluttered mind.

posted by Pollomacho at 8:14 AM on August 11, 2005

Billy Bragg and Wilco collaborated on Mermaid Avenue, two CDs of unpublished Woodie Guthrie songs, one of which was titled and about Stetson Kennedy. You can listen to it on Amazon.
posted by scottreynen at 9:25 AM on August 11, 2005

You know, I find it very inklonvenient when the klomputer hosting this site starts throwing up those klonfounded JRUN errors.
posted by COBRA! at 9:27 AM on August 11, 2005

The Klan in Kolorado,get yer ice kold koka kola !
posted by hortense at 9:44 AM on August 11, 2005

posted by kirkaracha at 9:45 AM on August 11, 2005

posted by COBRA! at 9:55 AM on August 11, 2005

Very klever!
posted by jrossi4r at 9:56 AM on August 11, 2005

posted by Gamblor at 10:03 AM on August 11, 2005

Klondike bar. Or was that Klandike bar? Commence thread downward spiral.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:11 AM on August 11, 2005

posted by Captain_Tenille at 10:15 AM on August 11, 2005

Good post! Also, thanks to gwint for the This American Life link.
posted by spock at 10:33 AM on August 11, 2005

Klatto Verata Nicto?
posted by Citizen Premier at 10:50 AM on August 11, 2005

I'm sorry, that's Klaatu Barada Nikto.
posted by Citizen Premier at 10:52 AM on August 11, 2005

Not kraw, KRAW!
posted by JHarris at 12:33 PM on August 11, 2005

Citizen Premier - Remember... the last time Bruce Campbell screwed up that phrase, he got his face sucked into a book, y'know. I'm just saying...
"Klaatu! Verrata! N..? Nickle, necktie,... it was definitely an N word. It was DEFINITELY an N word! Klaatu, Verrata, Nee*cough!* There. That's it."
posted by Zack_Replica at 12:47 PM on August 11, 2005

By the way, according to this page, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman as a rebuke to how they felt Hitler had distorted the Ubermensch concept in the works of Nietzsche. So there was definitely an antifascist message in Superman from the get-go. Michael Chabon's Kavalier and Clay is in many ways an acknowledgment of the Jewish "heritage" of the Superman comic book character.
posted by jonp72 at 4:36 PM on August 11, 2005

Great FPP, great thread.

I have quite a mancrush on Bruce Campbell.
posted by bardic at 4:55 PM on August 11, 2005

bardic - "If Chins Could Kill", his autobio isn't too bad, as those things go. Haven't got to his latest.

Ok, my derails aside, interesting post. Took almost all day to read it all as it's busy today, but it's always good to see someone who will risk much to expose things like this. I never really got why the Klan always usd such dumbass names... "elected Grand Wizard, or supreme leader, of all the Klan. The organization was divided into a number of realms, dominions, provinces and dens, which were in turn led by Grand Dragons, Titans, Giants and Cyclopes." *Ooooh* It always seemed so... childish and simple-minded. "No, _I_ wanna be da Grand Exalted Cyclops this time!! Me, me, me!!"
I know, I know "Look at the organisation we're dealing with."
I also like the semi-tangential links. They fit nicely. Thanks.
posted by Zack_Replica at 5:25 PM on August 11, 2005

add (...) in front of "elected Grand Wizard
posted by Zack_Replica at 5:27 PM on August 11, 2005

Reading of Stetson's exploits in Freakonomics has almost inspired me to have a high school re-named after him. The school is currently named after Nathan Bedord Forrest, confederate General and the first Grand Wizard of the Klan. Hell Stetson is even from Jacksonville, FL (where the school is at), whereas Forrest was from Georgia.
posted by nulledge at 1:04 AM on August 12, 2005

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