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Ku Klux Klan Holding a March

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Here’s a question: Why do Republicans think it’s relevant which political party started the Ku Klux Klan or supported slavery?

White conservatives and the GOP have crafted this narrative that political affiliation and ideology are synonymous and that the two major American political parties have changed so little in 150-plus years that whatever Democrats and Republicans looked like in the 18th and 19th centuries mirrors what the parties look like now. Truthfully, party affiliation doesn’t matter, and the fact that conservatives are so thoroughly convinced that it does only indicates that their critical thinking capacity is limited to the red vs. blue paradigm—which is just intellectually lazy and sad. 

Take, for example, Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania).

According to CNN, on Tuesday, Perry said during a closed-door briefing with lawmakers that the KKK is “the military wing of the Democratic party,” and then proceeded to lie to his echo chamber about “young people” misunderstand the Klan as a “right-wing” organization when, in truth, there is no misunderstanding as that is exactly what the Klan was and still is.

“The KKK in modern times, a lot of young people think somehow it’s a right-wing organization when it is the military wing of the Democratic Party. Decidedly, unabashedly, racist and antisemitic,” Perry said in a recorded conversation.

This brings me back to my original question: Why does it matter that members of the KKK were Democrats?

If we’re going to take the position that what the world looked like politically and socially in the times of slavery and the KKK mirrors what it looks like in “modern times,” why isn’t it more relevant that the KKK was founded in Tennessee, which is currently a Republican state? Why isn’t it more relevant that the part of the country that fought for the preservation of slavery during the Civil War is currently red-state America? Why isn’t it more relevant that the descendants of those who owned slaves, fought for slavery, and supported the continuation of slavery are the people who are most likely to vote Republican in “modern times?” It is those people of those days who passed down their culture, heritage, traditions, ways of life and points of view through their generations to the very people who largely make up the Republican electorate today.

Note: I’m not arguing that party affiliation matters when it comes to slavery or the Klanthat’s what Perry and his ilk are arguing—I’m just applying their logic in a way that, to me, seems far more practical.

After all, in “modern times,” it is Republicans who are fighting tooth and nail (and whip and chain) to preserve the legacy of the Confederacy. They’re the ones fighting to protect Confederate flags and monuments, and it’s red states that recognize Confederate holidays. It is Republicans who go very far out of their way to honor the thing they believe is so important to mention was started by Democrats.

Also, in “modern times,” it is Republican politicians who keep getting outed as KKK affiliates. It is Republican politicians who keep having issues with Klan members and other assorted white supremacists showing up at their rallies in support. It was a Republican who declined to seek reelection after he argued that the Civil War was about the loss of “property,” not slavery, which happened after he had argued that the KKK “was not so much a racist thing but a vigilante thing to keep law and order.” Former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke ran for office multiple times as a Republican, and he once complained that Donald Trump stole his political and ideological ideas, including, specifically, the Great Replacement Theory.

Speaking of that theory, do you know who else is repeating Klan rhetoric in “modern times?” Rep. Scott Perry.

From CNN:

Perry then defended replacement theory, which is the idea that white people are being slowly and intentionally replaced by minorities and immigrants.

“Replacement theory is real” Perry said according to the recording shared with CNN. “They added white to it to stop everybody from talking about it.”

While Perry said he is happy to accept people “that are here legally,” pointing to his ancestors who migrated to the US, he has an issue with migrants that are “un-American.”

“What is happening now is we’re importing people into the country that want to be in America … but have no interest in being Americans, and that’s very different and to disparage the comments is to chill the conversation so that we can continue to bring in more people that we never met that are un-American,” Perry said, according to the recording.

The Great Replacement Theory, also referred to as “White Replacement Theory,” as Perry alluded, is a theory that essentially originated with the Klan, which spent generations warning about the infiltration of color that was tainting (or replacing) white purity. It’s also a theory that was referenced in a manifesto left by Buffalo shooter Payton Gendron, who, of course, went on to target and gun down 10 Black people in cold blood.

At the end of the day, Perry is demonstrating the reason it’s so important to conservatives and Republicans to flat-out lie about Black history. He’s showing why it’s so important to them that America’s history of racism be taught in a way that un-implicates whiteness. He and his ilk need American history to be taught as simplistically and superficially as it can possibly be taught so that the teachings don’t contradict the (false) narrative around the nobility and heroism of traditional America—the same white nationalist America that Republicans want to make great again.


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