Contingency in Connections to the KKK

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I have to admit to being surprised and disappointed in some of the reaction to events in Charlottesville, yesterday, particularly by some Rhode Island journalists.  If I were to make a psychological wager, I’d say it’s something of a relief to them to be able to have a morally clear villain for a change.  And with the Russia-Russia-Russia story fading (and maybe even raising uncomfortable noises for the news media’s favored political party), pivoting to the “alt-right” to keep the criticism of the president up and to excuse their own desire to undermine American democracy makes sense.

But still, what they believe to be appropriate commentary, particularly in the form of retweets on Twitter, should alarm those outside of the bubble.

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Sean Daly of WPRI, for example, retweeted Tom Brokaw, who asked:

duke says trump should remember whites put him in presidency. america the white only? a burning fuse. who will extinguish, DT?

How insulting to white Americans, as if we’re this smoking bomb of racial animus just waiting for an excuse to explode.  As I tried to express last night, this strikes me as a dangerous insinuation.  These white supremacist idiots (whichever brand you pick) are a fringe cult.  They aren’t like glowing blue bug lights to which all of us crackers will be drawn if they aren’t repeatedly declared to be a danger.  Rather, they are psychological parasites that feed on feelings of alienation and powerlessness — precisely the sort of alienation that Brokaw reinforces with his insinuations.

Similarly, Katherine Gregg of the Providence Journal retweeted — in the heat of yesterday — a link to a Washington Post article from February 2016 noting that President Trump’s father was apparently arrested during a Big Apple Klan rally in 1927.  The obvious insinuation is that the Trump family has long connections to the Klan and its violence.

That is unbelievably irresponsible of a respectable mainstream journalist.  As Snopes notes, the only record of the arrest is a single news story, and in that story, Fred Trump is the only person named as being arrested who isn’t also named as being charged with some crime.  In other words, he may have been a passing New Yorker whom police swept up more or less by accident.  Or for all we know, he was arrested while fighting a Klan member.  And yet, here’s the Providence Journal’s venerable State House reporter making politically and racially charged connections that ensure more heat in the public square and less clarity.

But we can salvage an interesting point from this mess of insinuations.  Here’s a paragraph from the Washington Post article:

The predication for the Klan to march, according to a flier passed around Jamaica beforehand, was that “Native-born Protestant Americans” were being “assaulted by Roman Catholic police of New York City.” “Liberty and Democracy have been trampled upon,” it continued, “when native-born Protestant Americans dare to organize to protect one flag, the American flag; one school, the public school; and one language, the English language.”

That part about “one school, the public school” is particularly resonant.  Just a week or so ago, American progressives and their friends in the mainstream media were attempting to smear school choice advocates, including President Trump’s Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, as the heirs of racists because they favor school choice.  Here we are shortly after, and the progressives and news media are recycling the allegation that President Trump’s father was connected with racists rallying because… they did not favor school choice.

This somewhat humorous contrast can have a talismanic power.  If you feel yourself slipping into the group-think that the right-thinking people demand, consider the confused heads-I-win-tails-you-lose treatment of these mainstreamers when it comes to the Klan and school choice.

One suspects that the Klan in those days took its policy positions entirely for contingent reasons.  If feigning a preference for parallel schools helps keep the black folks out of your Southern school, then that’s the right policy; if feigning a devotion to “one public school” helps keep those Catholics from gaining a foothold in your Northern community, then that’s the right policy.

Put that way, this contingency sounds more than a little like the American Left and the mainstream that supports it.

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  • Rhett Hardwick

    If Trump is presently 70+/-, just how old could his father have been in 1927? 10 years old would not be an unreasonable supposition. Probably less than 20.

    “Roman Catholic police of New York City.” If the Washington Post article refers to 1926, it might be well to remember that at that time the Klan was a Northern organization, “Catholics” was “code” for Irish and Italians. When the Klan was still a Southern organization, the largest lynching recorded was 13 Italians in New Orleans, circa 1890. I don’t believe the Klan had any involvement in that. aside from the question of guilt,, it was no aid to them that they were Sicilian Catholics and probably darker than the average quadroon. It has been observed that Northern Italians refer to Sicilians as “Africans”..

  • Merle The Monster

    Katz writes:
    “That part about “one school, the public school” is particularly resonant. Just a week or so ago, American progressives and their friends in the mainstream media were attempting to smear school choice advocates, including President Trump’s Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, as the heirs of racists because they favor school choice. Here we are shortly after, and the progressives and news media are recycling the allegation that President Trump’s father was connected with racists rallying because… they did not favor school choice.”

    Frederick Christ Trump , Donald Trump’s father was 22 years old when arrested and just another fact that the President continues to refute. The arrest was in the year of 1927. After the Brown v Board of Education Supreme Court ruling in 1954 Virginia’s state government adopted Massive Resistance, a policy to block the desegregation of its public schools. The policy shut down public schools across Virginia rather than comply with the Supreme Court ruling including Charlottesville’s. In addition to slashing public school budgets the state began a new voucher system called a tuition grant program so students could attend private schools.These private schools became known as segregation academies and by 1969 more than 200 of these academies were open across the south.
    We are hearing those echoes of history now in Charlottesville and possibly among school choice advocates . Is this one of the ways they wish to MAGA

    • Rhett Hardwick

      Some history is foreseeable, just as modern day Germans I have known will quietly blame the Jews for “not leaving when we told them to”, Southerners blamed the blacks for their problems. I often wonder what result if, rather than place an army in the field and kill 700,000 of each other, the nation had determined to purchase the freedom of the blacks in the South. Unquestionably the greatest failure of American politics. Slavery had, perhaps, 30 years to go, what a price we paid.

  • Tom Green

    These RI “journalists” are merely Soviet-style propagandists for the left. no independent thought. Cowards who don’t dare betray their bretheren.

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