Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Newspaper runs staff-and-AP story on Ku Klux Klan, draws complaints, runs editorial

A "white pride" rally in April in Cedar Town, Ga.
An East Texas newspaper has drawn criticism for running a story on the 150th anniversary of the Ku Klux Klan, in which it detailed the organization's history, its current agenda and its role in the region. One interesting thing the story did reveal is that the KKK's top current concerns, immigration and border security, also are two of the main issues in the 2016 presidential election.

The Longview News-Journal added to an Associated Press story, originally published June 30, and ran it Saturday. On Sunday, it ran an editorial responding to objections from readers: "The News-Journal takes seriously its responsibility to inform its audience about a variety of subjects. Some are reasons for celebration and pride, and we revel in telling those stories. Others are less palatable, but must be told. If ignoring difficult realities would make them go away we would gladly remain silent. But ignoring them has the opposite result. Ignoring uncomfortable and ugly truths allows them to gain a foothold, to grow and flourish. Ignoring them would be an abdication of this newspaper’s responsibility to its audience, which it strives to serve without fear or favor."

Texas has the most KKK groups with 52, and Tennessee is second with 16, though numbers fluctuate, Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center told the News-Journal. "Potok said the center has seen a slight increase in Klan growth in the past year or so—a 'backlash to the backlash' over the Confederate flag and other race-related issues stemming from events such as the Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting."

Potok said Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's "run for the presidency also has been energizing Klan groups," the News-Journal reports. "The Republican nominee's embrace of nationalist and protectionist policy was cited by David Duke, a former KKK grand wizard, as an influence in his decision to run for the U.S. Senate representing Louisiana."

"Klan leaders across the country said they believe U.S. politics are going their way as a nationalist, us-against-them mentality deepens across the nation," reports the News-Journal. "Stopping or limiting immigration—a desire of the Klan dating back to the 1920s—is more of a cause than ever. And the leaders say membership has gone up at the twilight of President Barack Obama's second term in office, though few would provide numbers." (Read more)

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