Magazine article The Spectator

Hug a Hoodie? the KKK's New Look

Magazine article The Spectator

Hug a Hoodie? the KKK's New Look

Article excerpt

The Klu Klux Klan is trying to rebrand

New York

The Klu Klux Klan is rebranding. It's less lynchings and cross burning these days, more novelty kitchenware (fancy an 'Original Boyz N the Hood' mug?), family barbecues and children's TV shows. The traditional dress code -- white robes, hoods, cone hats -- still applies, by and large, but the rest of the Klan is having a makeover. 'White supremacy is the old Klan, this is the new Klan,' says John Abarr, a KKK chapter head from Great Falls, Montana. 'The KKK is for a strong America. We're not about violence. We're about being proud to be white.'

Abarr met last year with the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, and has revised admission procedures for his 'Rocky Mountain Knights' to embrace Jews, gays, Hispanics and even blacks. Other, more conservative 'grand wizards' are appalled, but it's not just Abarr: other Klansmen are trying to move with the times too. The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan -- one of the biggest of some 163 'klaverns' around America -- is led by Pastor Thomas Robb, another apostle of a new touchy-feely KKK. Robb is an old-guard Klansman in his racial views, but has radical ideas about updating the KKK's image. He calls himself 'director' rather than 'grand wizard' and -- with his blonde daughter -- presents a weekly internet TV show, This is the Klan , in which they give their slant on the news. For the kids, there's The Andrew Show , presented by Robb's cute-looking pre-teen grandson. Clearly reading from a script and holding his pet pug, Andrew discusses such hot-button topics as the inquities of racial mixing in Disney cartoons and gay prom queens. Robb also hosts $500-a-head summer camps for white families where the children play on the 'Kids' Korner' playground or sing white-power songs around the barbecue while the grown-ups listen to talks from far-right extremists from around the world.

In a similar vein to Pastor Robb is Frank Ancona, imperial wizard of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, another relatively big klavern. Like Robb he brandishes the Bible, quoting very selectively. But he is also on LinkedIn and Twitter, where he presents himself in purple robes and pointed hat. Ancona insists his 'Christian white group' doesn't hate anyone but is a 'fraternal organisation' that 'does good works'. …

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