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Slavery & Race in the USA - Essay Example

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1920s Klansmen: Not Fundamentalists but Moralists and Political Actors Name Instructor Class 13 January 2012 1920s Klansmen: Not Fundamentalists but Religious Nativists and Political Actors In 1915, William J. Simmons founded the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan , Inc…
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Slavery & Race in the USA
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Slavery & Race in the USA

Download file to see previous pages... Stanley Coben counters these historians and says: “In the 1920s, Klansmen were not a fringe group of fundamentalists bur rather solid middle-class citizens who were concerned about the decline in moral standards in their communities.” This paper discusses this argument using different journal articles and books. It agrees that the 1920s Klansmen were solid middle-class citizens concerned with declining moral standards, although literature also provides evidence that the Klansmen were religious nativists and active political actors who served diverse community-based social, economic, and political purposes. This paper begins with the historical analysis that the KKK were made of backward extremists. In The Party of Fear, David Bennett (1988:12) argues that the KKK is part of America's right-wing “subculture,” who rejected the evolving social conditions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Klansmen attacked foreigners and communism, although Bennett (1988: 13) argues that the KKK was the “traditional nativism's last stand.” Bennett (1988) emphasises that the KKK developed as a response to widespread economic, cultural, and social changes. The economy was doing well enough for wages to increase and for people to buy numerous consumer goods (Bennett 1988: 204). Leisure time also increased and led to new values that promoted “hero” worship of movie stars and sports icons and cosmopolitan attitudes and practices (Bennett 1988: 203). At the other side of those who adjusted to the new America were the “losers,” who were mostly “small-town folk in the South, West, and lower Midwest” (Bennett 1988: 204). They were economic losers who “felt a terrible loss in the displacement of traditional values no matter what their personal economic or social situations” (Bennett 1988: 204). Bennett (1988: 204) argues that since these people could not access the new world of “sexual and social freedom,” they used repressive movements, such as the KKK, to advance their own values and interests. Bennett (1988) believes that the KKK provided the means by which nativists can regain their lost social status and by which they could call themselves as true American heroes, while charging Catholics, Jews and numerous “un-American” minorities as the causes of society's social, cultural, and economic problems. Another work underscores the fundamentalist nature of the Second Klan. Wyn Craig Wade's (1987) The Fiery Cross: The Ku Klux Klan in America is geared for the masses and less scholarly in writing style than Bennett's work. Unlike Bennett, Wade (1987) argues that racism, lawlessness, and Reconstruction values and goals had driven people to establish the KKK. He opposes Coben's analysis that KKK were not fundamentalists. For Wade (1987), the 1920's Klansmen were fundamentalists who were bent on cleansing society of un-American values and races. Wade (1987), nevertheless, supports Bennett (1988) that the Klansmen were made of economic losers from rural areas. Wade (1987) also agrees with Coben that there is a religious nativist tone in the KKK's activities. The Klansmen wanted to preserve conservative values and to promote Prohibition laws that were aligned with Protestantism, particularly Victorian values and attitudes. They were religious nativists because they rejected other religious values and practices, which became more prevalent with the rising ethnic minority ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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