This is one of my more controversial and widely circulated -- and reprinted -- articles:  "Beneath The Burning Crosses:   Reflections On The Klan And Poor People."  It's printed here absent   photographs to speed down-loading.

Just scroll down for the article.  It's not far.

Published by the social justice journal, Sojourners, September 1981, it was  reprinted in -- among other publications --   SPECIAL REPORT:  The Ku Klux Klan -- A History of Racism and Violence,   Klanwatch, The Southern Poverty Law Center, Montgomery, 1982.

A decade after this article, in November 1992, The Witness -- [ the major social justice journal of the Episcopal Church in America] -- carried a long interview by one of its writers, Ms. Charlotte Hinger, with me and with then Klanwatch Director, Danny Welch ["The Ku Klux Klan: America's Fiery Shadow."] 

Mr. Welch and I both warned that organized hate groups -- and other forms of anti-people prejudice and discrimination -- were still very much around indeed.  Among my many quotes:

"As long as we have white poverty and insecurity we're going to have racism -- whether it's the good old American kind or the Neo-Nazi kind."

"There is now a tremendous anger building at the grassroots in this country -- and however quietly for the most part at this point, it's building up steadily, faster and faster.  It's an anger that can go either way:   further down into the dark canyons of hate and division and violence and deprivation and tyranny charted by the David Dukes -- or out into the sunlight of freedom, dignity, and spiritual well-being.  It reminds me of the later 1950s."

Eight years later -- 2000 -- I still see it precisely in those terms.

These challenges are coming in faster and faster -- and from the very Four Directions.   They're exemplified by increasingly broadening economic deprivation, general insecurity, and mounting interpersonal and value alienation. 

And these challenges are exemplified, too, by the attitudes and actions aimed against non-White people, against "culturally different" folk, against gays -- and carried by  all sorts of organized hate groups, by "free lancers," by many "law enforcement officers."   And they're carried, too, by the minds and in the expressions of all too many Anglo "respectables."

We need to get to the curative and preventative roots of  all of this -- and the roots are primarily economic.

We need to build a socially just society for all -- and we need to do this  with the swiftness of  Wind and the growing power of Rain and Sun.  We need to do it mighty damn fast.


UP-DATE [November 15, 2001]:

I have a few quick thoughts on contemporary hate groups.  I'm sure that
others on our List do also.

Hate groups are certainly growing these days in the United States -- and in
some other places as well.

High nationalism, domestic and international paranoia, a "war" against dark
skinned peoples, and significantly deepening economic difficulties are among
the basic factors feeding and stimulating such virulent hate organizations
as the National Alliance, the Nationalist Movement, Identity Church, Aryan
Nations, The Order, contemporary Klan, skinhead groups etc. et al.

All of these, grounded on a completely irrational myriad of murky and
mercurial forces, defy easy and conventional sociological blackboard
analysis. The pathology of these organizations is extremely complex -- but
there are, always, certain definite consistencies:  they are racist,
anti-Semitic, usually homophobic and frequently carry other anti-people
"isms"  as well.  And they are violent.

But there are, within these pathological houses,  pathological paradoxes.
Following 9/11, and based on their written and verbal pronouncements, many
of these groups vigorously cheered the "attack on the United States
government" and clearly reveled in the ensuing chaos.  At the same time,
however, many of their followers have obviously been very open to violently
attacking people of Middle Eastern and North African ethnicity, other dark
skinned people -- and persons of Jewish background as well.

The old Southern Klans developed and functioned [and a few survivors still
do] in the context of  the traditionally closed South and its open,
widespread poverty  -- with the poverty-stricken poor Whites being cunningly
and consistently manipulated in anti-union and racist schemes by the
economic Big Mules, the "Captains." The primary basis for the old Klans
was/is economic.

These far more complex and increasingly sophisticated   contemporary hate
organizations [again, National Alliance, the Nationalist Movement, Aryan
Nations, The Order, Identity Church, modern Klan, skinheads, etc. et al. ]
reflect in virulent fashion -- via their own incredibly sick and twisted
perspective -- the great maelstrom of forces in which modern Humanity is

But, when you cut down -- through it all -- right to their ultra-poisonous
bone, you find, again, the same very basic components:  racism,
anti-Semitism, and the other anti-people isms. And you find violence.  And
you also find, as the ultimate foundational component, very substantial
economic fears and insecurities.

While all of these pose substantial threats and dangers, the one category
now most open to racist/violent recruitment -- and this has been true for at
least this past generation -- has been economically precarious, disaffected
and alienated White youth:  Racist skinhead material.  And, again, this very much
goes back to economic fear and great insecurity and, certainly in this
present era, deepening economic recession and rapidly mounting unemployment.

Approaches?  Widespread exposure and multi-faceted education  -- certainly.
Arrest and prosecution for hate crimes -- for sure.  But, far more
basically, ethnically integrated grassroots socio/economic justice and
advocacy organizations,  militant and pervasive unionization, widespread
public works programs and other shorter-term approaches -- and, most
fundamentally of all, a society organized  to ensure a full measure of bread
and butter and a full measure of respect and liberty for every human,

Hunter [Hunterbear]

Hunter Gray [Hunterbear] (social justice)

Left Discussion Group

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