They came, they saw (each other), and they sure as hell didn’t conquer. Flaunting both hoods and swastikas, the Klan members who paid a visit to Memphis on a cold, rainy Saturday ended up being as unintelligible (literally) as they were philosophically.
With no crowd to work on (they were pretty effectively cordoned off from a group of protesters two blocks away by police, Sheriff’s deputies, and barricades), they came with a defective P.A. system, squawking ineffectually on a bullhorn and periodically shouting “White Power!” — a slogan accompanied by Nazi-style left-arm salutes.
As for the rest of what they said, very little of it could be distinguished by the press pack huddled across the street from the Courthouse lawn, where the Klan group was gathered behind a temporary Cyclone fence. (See also “Kl Klux Klan Rally is a Non-event in Memphis” by my colleague John Branston.)
A few of the phrases that could be discerned: “…corrupt mayor….” “…corrupt City Council….”…not gonna take it anymore….” “…last man standing….” And one serio-comic dire warning (not making this up): “Once you go black, you never go back.”
One news crew from Brooklyn was interviewing other reporters on the theme of whether the effectively cloistered Klan group really had a chance to exercise their First Amendment rights. The root fact is that, except for the aforesaid media and protesters downtown, nobody seemed much interested in what these interlopers had to say. And maybe that’s the real message of the day.
You had to wonder what kind of jobs these people had, what kind of society they fit into. They sure didn’t measure up as specimens of humanity to the community-minded folks who gathered miles away at Tiger Lane to make various kinds of positive statements (see Chris Shaw’s photo-essay, “Scenes from the Anti-KKK Rallies”).
Anyhow, they’re gone, and it’ll be hard to find anybody around here who regrets that fact.