Law and Order: The Klan and the Mythical America of Donald Trump

1980 — Imperial Wizard Arrested: Klan Stands for ‘Law, Order’

AT CONNECTICUT RALLY, KKK LEADER CALLS FOR LAW AND ORDER, SEGREGATION — “Imperial Wizard Bill Wilkinson, only a few hours after he was arrested on a weapons charge, told a Ku Klux Klan rally in a rural cow pasture in Scotland, Connecticut, that the Klan stands for ‘law and order.’ Police, who found a loaded .45-caliber automatic pistol in a suitcase in the trunk of Wilkinson’s car Sunday, charged him with possession of a dangerous weapon. He was released on $1,000 bond pending a hearing today in Windham County Superior Court. After his release, he spoke in a cow pasture at a rally that ended with the burning of a 20-foot oil-soaked wooden cross. Unlike the rally Saturday night, the first in the state in 70 years, there was no violence reported Sunday and no counter-demonstrations. In an hour-long speech at the Sunday rally, Wilkinson, Imperial Wizard of the Invisible Empire of the Ku Klux Klan, spoke on the usual Klan topics. ‘God didn’t make several races to mix them up. Nature doesn’t. You don’t see the red birds and the bluebirds getting together. The Klan is for the white race; blacks do not have the same IQ as whites, and the Klan is for family and it believes in law and order. The Klan is for America first. We’re sick and tired of sending billions of dollars to foreign countries who turn around, burn our embassies, take our hostages and spit in our faces.'” — Sept. 15, 1980

KLAN’S IMPERIAL WIZARD SAYS SEGREGATION IS NATURAL — “An unofficial estimate put the cost of police protection for the two days at $150,000. There were about 200 troopers on duty throughout the weekend — many on overtime. State trooper Fred Vollono said Wilkinson was stopped in Scotland — where he led a cross-burning ceremony Saturday night — on his way to the second rally. Wilkinson at first was charged with disobeying a court order that prohibited carrying weapons in the town and of carrying a dangerous weapon in a motor vehicle. State police later dropped the first charge, saying the court order only gave them right to search cars. The charge of possession of a dangerous weapon in a motor vehicle is a felony. VOLLONO said neither Wilkinson nor the driver of the car, a Klansman, caused any problem. ‘He (Wilkinson) has been cooperative,’ Vollono said. ‘There was no incident.’ Wilkinson, imperial wizard of the Louisiana-based Invisible Empire of the Ku Klux Klan, had earlier praised 200 state troopers who patrolled the area to enforce the weapons ban. A Superior Court judge had issued the no-weapons order after Wilkinson announced the grounds would be patrolled by armed men to keep out non-whites and protesters. ‘The police did an outstanding job,’ Wilkinson said. ‘I’d hate to be in their shoes. They were very professional.’ State police searched trucks and under seats of cars and frisked some people entering the town. Klansmen carrying large tree limbs and aided by a guard dog patrolled the entrance to the field and turned back non-white reporters and demonstrators who attempted to enter the site.” — Sept. 15, 1980

A BURNING CROSS, A BURNING TENEMENT: HARTFORD REFLECTED IN THE KLAN’S CROSS FIRE, BY K. R. BERG — “A 30-foot burning cross is a gruesome spectacle. A burning tenement house is a gruesome spectacle. For the first time, I saw a cross burn Saturday night in Scotland. I have seen tenements burn many times in Hartford. In Hartford, the fires have killed. In Scotland there were loud cheers and prayers, ‘God bless the KKK!’ and ‘God give us men!’ The cheers came from young white men, average age under 30. Marching around the burning cross were about 40 men in white sheets, average age about 50. The loud voices were screaming ‘death to n-words and n-word lovers.’ In Hartford, when tenements burn, nobody cheers. Before the cross burned, apparently symbolizing the purification of the ‘white race’ and the goal of white supremacy, the cross was guarded by a young white man with a seven-foot, sharpened stake. We had been repeatedly searched: first by the police, then by Klansmen with clubs, then again by police. Compare Hartford in terms of ‘white supremacy.’ In the hospitals infants die, 80 percent of whom are black and Hispanic, at a rate that is more than twice the national average. It is my understanding that the hospitals tried to cover up this fact because of the possibility they might lose their federal Hill-Burton money for health care of low-income people. Is there an overtone of ‘white supremacy’ in this? The approximately three-mile walk to the Klan rally site was very frightening. Apparently there had been some previous violence during a confrontation by protesting whites and blacks, men and women, average age also under 30. A young couple walking next to me complained about how the police had not protected them from the protesters, and the woman said her head had been bloodied by ‘n-word lovers.’ Compare Hartford. I remember when a black teenager was shot to death by a white policeman while running away from a stolen car. We later held a vigil on that spot. I remember when a black community leader was shot in the head by a white policeman during a riot, even though the later testimony in court made it clear that the black man was trying to calm down the situation. Could it be that an all-white federal jury acquitted the policeman, primarily because it did not think that a black man should have been on the streets at all? That man, lost to his family and lost to himself, partially paralyzed, is now a chronic patient at Norwich Hospital. At the KKK rally, the ‘imperial wizard,’ Bill Wilkinson, said that white men are being deprived of jobs by affirmative action. The young whites cheered loudly. Perhaps some of them are having a difficult time, but nobody seemed hungry. Compare Hartford. In the housing projects, the unemployment is over 50 percent and the children as well as the adults are often hungry. Welfare does not even come close to a minimum standard of living. Almost all of the people would work if there were training and jobs. The wizard also talked about housing, saying that the KKK opposes block busting by ‘n-words.’ He said that property values decline. (This is factually incorrect. On a national level, integration on average increases property values.) It seemed obvious that the people at the rally would have a comfortable place to sleep that night; no one complained about not having housing. Compare Hartford. In many places there are 10 to 12 people living in five or six rooms. There are many people who have no place to stay for more than one night and they must wander from house to house. Children are often crammed into some place or other. Downtown Hartford investment in new buildings is in the hundreds of millions of dollars, but low-income people are jammed together, with incredible tension and suffering. The wizard deplored integrated education. He asserted that this process ‘drags the whites down.’ (Factually, the research indicates that this is not true.) Compare Hartford. About 83 percent of the school children are black and Hispanic; in West Hartford, about 5 percent; in East Hartford, about 10 percent and even less in other suburbs. Are the suburbs going to move toward quality integrated education, other than the token of Project Concern? Probably not without political pressure from state government, which is very unlikely. I have been exploring the perspectives of people in a Hartford ‘liberal’ church (or society). The building sits on a luxuriant hillside overlooking a segregated housing project, a segregated neighborhood and a segregated high school. The people who attend the society are mainly suburbanites and except for a few, they don’t seem to care about the suffering in Hartford. A Sunday service is a form of group therapy, but generally socially irresponsible. The theme is brotherhood and sisterhood, humaneness for suburbanites. By their ‘benign neglect’ they indirectly support the KKK. And so the cross burned. And the young white men signed applications for the Klan. For me, there was a long walk down a dark road, frightened. In reality, I am much more frightened of the likelihood of political oppression in this country. The wizard said that Ronald Reagan’s opinions and the Republican platform are very similar to the perspectives of the KKK. It seems likely that people like me, now defined by society as white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs, but Communists as seen by the KKK) will get our share of the oppression. Notice the ‘deafening’ silence from local and state politicians, except for the black and Hispanic leaders and a few white organizations. The whites who are ‘in charge’ know that the current political climate is conservative. Will the Klan be permitted to flourish as an extension of the current ‘white supremacy?’ Health, food, shelter, etc., literally life and death, are mainly controlled by non-Hispanic whites. The Klan hates openly. It is openly racist. What do the examples given above suggest about racism and white supremacy in Greater Hartford? There have been some changes recently, in terms of the new black city manager, a black fire chief, and a strong black city councilman. But in a city that is over two-thirds black and Hispanic, six out of 10 state legislators are white; none are Hispanic. Hartford, and this society in general, have a very effective scapegoat. It is called the Ku Klux Klan. In reality, how much of current suffering is created by the Klan? How much is created by ‘wizards’ among the WASPs who have the real power? For example, tens of millions of dollars from major Hartford companies have gone to the downtown area. How many millions have gone to eliminating the agonies of the low-income people of Hartford? There are no white sheets in the companies, of course, just white behavior. White is not a skin color (pinkish orange is usually more accurate), but a style of life, a philosophy, a business orientation. Maybe some of us will lose our jobs for speaking out. If that happens we probably won’t know where the pressure came from. Free speech is unfortunately dependent upon the current political and business climate.” — Sept. 17, 1980

AMERICA, THE MYTHICAL — “Ronald Reagan said America was part of a divine plan. Americans, he said, can meet ‘our destiny and that destiny can build a land here that will be for mankind a shining city on a hill.’ Like John F. Kennedy once did, Mr. Reagan borrowed from remarks by a 17th-century Puritan, John Winthrop. He said it was the destiny of the Puritans to establish a ‘city upon a hill’ upon which the ‘eyes of all people’ would fall for an example of a society where people lived purely and still made a good living. The idea that America holds a preeminent place among nations — all of which would do well to emulate her — has been an enduring one. Mr. Reagan also invoked the idea of westward expansion, arguably the central motive force in American history from colonial times to the late 19th century. The myth of the eternal frontier that accompanied expansion — and that might help account for our restlessness and unwavering optimism about progress — is still deeply embedded in the American psyche. Mr. Reagan called Americans ‘a special kind of people… a new breed of human.’ The implication is that he is a superior breed of human, something many Americans have believed at least since the 18th century when a farmer, J. Hector St. John Crevecoeur, posed his famous question: ‘What then is the American, this new man?’ Myths are useful. They give us a sense of continuity with our history. They are part of our identity and a source of pride. But they are not principles. They are not necessarily applicable as guides for the future. The belief in America’s destiny has its dark side. It has been used in the past to justify some imperialistic adventures and to prescribe for the rest of the world a design for living in the name of the ‘American Mission’ and the ‘American Century.’ But in some respects, at least, America can no longer serve as the exemplar of what every society should become. For instance, if every other nation should attain American levels of consumption, industrialization and electrification, in a very few years the earth could be virtually uninhabitable because of pollution and resource exhaustion. We are beginning to learn only lately that this is a world of limits, that the western frontier is defined and that we must learn to live within its boundaries. The example of an America as the careful steward of its resources is far more relevant in today’s world than of an America as a giant, perpetual boom town. Always, too, we have held onto the belief in our uniqueness as human beings. That has sometimes made us arrogant, even contemptuous, toward other peoples and cultures. Some of the terrible events of the 1960s and 1970s have begun to change that attitude, but we are still feeling its backlash. We may still feel ourselves, in words from a recent novel, ‘the best dearest most generous people on earth.’ But in many countries — particularly in the Third World — we are overbearing oppressors. The obverse of the myth of the superiority of the American is the inferiority of everyone else. This is 1980, and some of the prevailing ideas about ourselves from centuries past have lost their usefulness, and may in fact be dangerous anachronisms as the nation formulates its policies for advancing into the 21st century. Perhaps we should be dwelling less on our distinctiveness and more on our interdependence. The world has grown much smaller than it once was. Perhaps some favorite American myths are much too big for it.” — Sept. 28, 1980

1972 — Ku Klux Klan Left Bloody, Dishonorable Stain on America

BY LEN WORZALLA — “‘Since eighteen hundred and sixty-six the Ku Klux Klan has been riding — and will continue to do so as long as the white man liveth.’ Thus read the old boast of the KKK — an organization that once struck terror in the hearts of those it opposed and is remembered by most Americans with disgust — a sickening, bloody stain upon a nation founded on the proposition that all men are created equal. And to those who might say, ‘Yeah, but the KKK was all down South,’ it should be pointed out that the organization in the 1920s counted 75,000 Wisconsin adherents. Founded by six former Confederate army officers in December of 1865, in Pulaski, Tenn., the Ku Klux Klan originally was supposed ‘to break this monotony and to cheer up our mothers and the girls.’ The name was derived from the Greek word kuklos, meaning circle, and Ku Klux Klan was adopted because of its ‘alliteration and mystical possibilities,’ according to Wisconsin Then and Now, a publication of the State Historical Society. When the six original members, dressed in flowing white robes and hoods, rode out into the Tennessee countryside, they did manage to amuse themselves. But the power of the ghostly figures was discovered, however, when they ‘generated fear among superstitious southerners, especially Negroes.’ Soon the KKK became the scourge not only of the black man but of Yankee carpetbaggers, abolitionists, Republican candidates and anyone else it saw fit to oppose. Those persons who refused to be intimidated by threats were taken from their homes and whipped. Others were mutilated and murdered. The Ku Klux Klan became policeman, judge and executioner. For ten years the South was ravaged by Klan excesses, but by 1875 it had become dormant, remaining so for the next 40 years. In 1915, however, William J. Simmons, a Georgia history professor, revived the KKK. Simmons’ Klan stressed ‘one-hundred per cent Americanism.’ His Kluxers campaigned against Negroes, Jews, Orientals, Roman Catholics and ostensibly, against dope, bootlegging, graft, nightclubs, violations of the Sabbath and marital misbehavior. The new Klan, using the same old methods, came to Wisconsin in 1920 at a secret meeting aboard the USS Hawk, moored in the Milwaukee River. Eight years later the Wisconsin KKK was defunct. But in between, fiery crosses blazed from Grandad’s Bluff in LaCrosse to Manitowoc’s harbor and from Kenosha to Superior. And in Racine, masked Klansmen sported deputy sheriff’s badges. Strongest in Racine and Kenosha counties, the KKK held a picnic for 70,000 Midwestern Klansmen in a 90-acre field near Racine. Hardly a sinister affair, the ‘Konklave’ included vaudeville acts and fireworks, with Race storefronts bearing ‘Welcome KKK’ banners.” — Jul. 15, 1972

1949 — Moonlight Marauders ‘Maintain the Law

EDITORIAL AND CURRENT COMMENT — “Dr. E. P. Pruitt, head of the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama, says that persons blaming his outfit for recent ‘acts of hoodlumism’ in the Birmingham area ‘are infernal liars.’ What’s more, he adds, ‘the klan stands for law and order.’ It’s very difficult to distinguish the liars sometimes. Those who blame the klan for burning crosses and flogging people may indeed be liars. Or Dr. Pruitt may be a liar. Take your choice. At any rate, his statement that the klan stands for law and order is more than a little on the doubtful side. Of course, Dr. Pruitt may be talking about a different type of law and order than that written in the law books. It is usually considered that sheriffs, state and federal officers, and local policemen are the proper agents to enforce law and order. But the klan has different ideas. Apparently the klan thinks the regular law enforcement officers don’t enforce the right laws. Therefore, its masked marvels and sheeted hoodlums ride into the night and wave their bloody banners, seeing that ‘law and order’ are maintained. In Germany the blackshirts maintained their version of law and order, until their version became the law of the land. In Russia, the secret police and thought-control men shipped those who didn’t obey ‘the law’ to Siberia and tossed their families into concentration camps. When a white-robed mob administered its latest beating, this week in Birmingham, the regular police showed up at the scene an hour after they were called. It appears that the whiteshirts maintained their version of law and order and that the regular officers were careful not to appear until there was no more maintaining to do. ‘I’m getting a gun and I know how to use it,’ said the victim of the beating when he returned from the woods with swollen welts across his back. If he makes good his implied threat, he will be a third party attempting to enforce the law. Strange, isn’t it? Three parties all attempting to enforce the law, all with different laws to enforce, and no legal law enforcement being done! ‘It Can’t Happen Here’ was the title of a book and play which described how fascism really can happen here. Terrorism is the first step. It is the first step in the plan of the Communists for control of the U. S., and it is the first step of the masked marvels in the South to put into effect their form of the law. If nothing can be done about it, the South might as well be abandoned to the moonlight marauders. It is becoming no longer safe for those innocents who are under the apparent illusion that they are protected by the law.” — Jun. 18, 1949

1926 — Ku Kluxers Parade in Capitol’s Shadow

BAR FOREIGNERS FROM COUNTRY, KLAN PROGRAM “A campaign for absolute abolition of foreign immigration was announced at the first session of the Ku Klux Klan convention here tonight…” — Sept. 14, 1926

WIZARD EVANS EGGS KLAN TO RELIGIOUS WAR — “For this ‘great moral war’ Hiram W. Evans outlined the following objectives: 1. To save America from alienism — to prevent the mongrelization of our race and to promote a steady nationalism rather than permit the strength of America to be dissipated through an insipid cosmopolitanism. 2. To restore Protestantism to full and unquestioned supremacy in the spiritual spotlight of America, and to make spiritual freedom the undoubted possession of every citizen of this country. 3. To assist America toward the fulfillment of her God-given destiny by protecting the fundamental policies of Americanism that have made us the most respected nation in the world.” — Sept. 15, 1926

CHIEFTAIN EGGS KLAN — “Dr. Hiram W. Evans, imperial wizard, told klan members here today the time had arrived for the great moral war, with the klan on the aggressive. ‘Our organization has three main objectives,’ Evans said. ‘We seek suppression of alienism, establishment of Protestant supremacy in government and protection of American standards… Control of crime, he said, would follow Protestant ascendancy.” — Sept. 15, 1926

-Excerpt and images courtesy of

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