KKK and Americanism Essay

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Klan's Fight for Americanism

*Why do you think this document was written?

This document was written because of the author's growing admiration for the KKK and from a desire to demonstrate clear and public support for it. By demonstrating such public support for the KKK, Evans is essentially making this organization stronger and more vital. Evans is pushing the organization forward through this publicity, by taking a clear and positive stance on it. Evans is also asserting himself as a supporter of the racist, white-power movement, and is fundamentally lending his name to help strengthen the cause of the KKK in general. In this sense, there is a sort of symbiotic association which is present through Evan drafting this material: by aligning himself with the KKK, he is feeding off their power and strength, and vice versa. Furthermore, Evans is asserting himself as an expert on the KKK and the journey that they've taken. Evans is also asserting himself as someone who understands why this organization is important, and is placing himself in a position of authority.

* What evidence in the document helps you know why it was written?

The document is full of evidence as to why it was written and this evidence should be examined. Evans asserts that some of the most powerful changes that the KKK have gone through are not just the most obvious ones: these changes are things like increasing in size from a handful to millions, transforming from poverty to riches, and transforming from obscurity to influence (Evans, 3). As Evans asserts, these changes and arenas of transformation are all important but not vital: "What is vital is that in these years the Klan has shown a power to reform and cleanse itself from within, to formulate and vitalize fundamental instincts into concrete thought and purposeful action, to meet changing conditions with adaptability but without weakness, to speak for and lead the common people of America, and finally, to operate through the application of practical patriotism to public life with increasing success, and along the only constructive lines to be found in the present welter of our national thought" (3). This mouthful of words is something that helps to illuminate without a doubt where Evans believes the KKK is heading and how Evans believes that Klan has been evolving. In this regard, Evans is someone who is dictating the success of the Klan, and demonstrating why it believes it has been so successful. Fundamentally, the argument that Evans is making asserts that the Klan has been so effective because they've been able to harness the power of ideas to impact the national consciousness. Ideas are so powerful and so prominent, as thought can impact action, as the KKK has clearly seen. Ultimately, Evans is making the argument that the KKK has had so much success because they've been able to effectively brainwash a legion of people.

* Provide information on at least two things the document tells you about life at the time and place it was written.

The formality of the language used indicates that the document was written decades ago, which it was. One thing that dates this document as being written in the 1920s is the fact that it acknowledges that there's a certain superiority of racial heredity and it for a minute mentions the patriotism which blossomed as a result of the "World War." Such a reference demonstrates just how old this document is, via the fact that the only world war that it knows of is the only one that has happened thus far (what Americans today refer to as the First World War. Another aspect of the document that dates it and which makes it indicative of what life was like during that time is the way in which it refers to lynchings. It clearly views lynchings as a tool used to mitigate justice and to prevent crime. This clearly demonstrates the deep-ceded fear absolutely present during the time of African-Americans as responsible for the disruption of justice and other problems. Evans refers to the KKK as being the enforcers of what he calls, "the invisible government"; as Evans explains, "…all Klansmen are sworn to uphold legally constituted officers in enforcing the law at all times. One result of this is to be seen in the decrease in lawlessness in Klan territory. We can justly claim credit for the remarkable improvement as regards lynchings in the last two years" (37). It would be difficult to surmise just what the KKK thinks of lynchings nowadays, particularly since lynchings don't really occur that often. Lynchings are not viewed as a severe way to distribute justice or to deter others from committing crimes. They're viewed as hateful and evil attempts at intimidation and coercion, based on intense fear and terror of those who are different from oneself.

* Provide information on at least three things the author said or referred to that you think is important to your argument about the document.

Essentially, the over-arching argument about this document asserts that Evans is distinguishing himself as an expert in all of the ways of the KKK, and he is basically saying that the Klan has been able to gain a certain amount of strength through the manner in which they are able to brainwash people. For example, Evans explains that their method of propagation has been very effective and successful in the way in which they have recruited new members. Basically, a refined process of brain-washing has helped them to strategically attract more members, and more of what they would consider to be "desirable" members. The KKK gospel was spread in the early days, "… very secretively, a high percentage of money had gone to the kleagles -- the 'sales agents' -- there had been a high pressure appeal to sentimentality, hatred and the invisible government idea, and a tendency to emphasize numbers rather than quality of recruits. Today instead, the emphasis is put on Americanism, Protestant Christianity, and action through government machinery… this has, to be sure, cut down the number of new members accepted, but has greatly increased quality and loyalty, and it has brought amazing gains in strength, particularly in the MidWest and North" (37). Thus Evans believes that this arena of brainwashing has been so effective because of their more specific practices: by being pickier about their new members, the KKK has been able to build their ranks in a steady and consistent manner, increasing ultimately to larger and larger numbers of people who are loyal and who share their skewed and backwards perspective on the world.

Another example of the Klan's careful brainwashing for success is their take on the evolution of the development of the American people. They believe that the American people just have a history of origin from the Nordic races. Thus, members of the KKK and Evans believe that only the very strongest of those original pioneers have survived, making the Caucasian race in American one of the very strongest and agile, and thus aggravating the overall need to keep this race in power and "pure." A third means by which one can see the brainwashing of Evans more aptly manifest is via the assertion that these "strangers" have taken over the prosperity of the country, and are seeking to stack the odds against everyone else -- bringing with them economic distress and attempting to take control of the economy, industry and commerce (39).

* What is the overall significance of the document?

The overall significance of the document is multi-faceted. On the one hand, it represents the growth, evolution and development of the KKK. The documents show the early roots of the Klan, and how they were able to gain strength in America. The document, because it was…[continue]

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