Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Keeping Klan off the Road to Recruiting

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Keeping Klan off the Road to Recruiting

Article excerpt

I HAVE A SOLUTION for Gov. Mel Carnahan, state Sen. J.B. "Jet" Banks and others troubled that the Ku Klux Klan wants to adopt a stretch of Missouri highways to keep clean: Consider ending the program.

It may be the only way to keep the Klan's filthy paws out of the Adopt-A-Highway program.

The Klan has applied to adopt a stretch of Interstate 55 between Utah and Gasconade streets as part of the program, designed to clear roadways of litter. Carnahan and Banks are strongly opposed, and the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission filed suit last week asking a judge to declare the Klan unfit to take part in the program. In its suit, filed in U.S. District Court, the state alleged that the KKK is more interested in recruiting members than in picking up trash.

The Klan's application this year to remove litter from a half-mile section of Interstate 55 is "a subterfuge designed to force state-sanctioned racism" and to advance opposition to busing for school integration, the suit said.

When a group "adopts" a stretch of highway, the state places a sign that says: "Adopted by the Kiwanis Club," for example. Many of the organizations that participate do so out of both civic pride and the knowledge that their group will get some free publicity along the highway. That, the state asserts, is what the Klan is really looking for.

To no one's surprise, Klan members say that theirs is not a hate group, just one that's terribly misunderstood. "All we believe in is the white, Christian American people," says Michael Cuffley, a recruiter for the Klan.

Right. And Adolf Hitler just wanted to shake a few people up.

St. Louis already is a racially polarized area. It's hard to imagine what having a sign that said "Adopted by the Grand Knights of the Ku Klux Klan" would do to any efforts to battle that polarization. By sanctioning such a sign, the state would be sending the wrong message not only to those who live in Missouri but also to out-of-state travelers, who would surely wonder just what kind of state they were traveling through.

The Ku Klux Klan has a long and very well-documented history of violence and hatred against racial, religious and ethnic groups. …

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