The Klan was therefore able to identify different methods of infiltrating American politics and ideologies, crafting their program to suit different regions of the country. In areas with large numbers of Jews, the Klan could be rabidly anti-Semitic and gain membership via the propagation of Nazi values. In areas where moral decay in Christian communities was viewed as a primary problem, the Klan leaders presented their ideology as an agent of social morality.[footnoteRef:11] When the Klan considered the advantages of taking its political platform and special interests to the mainstream, it joined the Democratic National Convention of 1924, and also the Republican National Convention that same year.[footnoteRef:12] the Klan had become a full-scale mainstream political, social, and economic institution in the United States because it was as diverse as it was ideologically, even if not culturally or socio-economically. [11: DA Horowitz, "Social Morality and Personal Revitalization: Oregon's Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s," Oregon Historical Quarterly, Vol 90, No 4, 366] [12: R. McVeigh, 'Power Devaluation in the Ku Klux Klan, and the Democratic National Convention of 1924, Vol 16, No 1]
The Ku Klux Klan underwrote many of the political decisions that shaped American society, culture, politics, and economics during the 1920s and 1930s. Prohibition was among the most obvious, as it allowed separate and divergent strands of Klan thought and identity to converge in different parts of the nation including the West and North. Turning to local grassroots political organization, the Klan was also able to capitalize on the growing moralistic and fundamentalist religious sentiments brewing, which coincided with Prohibition and anti-feminism. The perception that Catholics, Jews, and other outsiders posed moral and spiritual threats as well as cultural, economic and political threats allowed the Klan to infiltrate politics in both the Democratic and Republican parties throughout the nation. Every state bore some representation of Klan leadership, whether through business or elected officials or both. Lobbyists in key issue areas were often Klansmen and women or their lackeys. Gone were the days of cross burning on lawns; because the new Klan was the voice of mainstream America who pretended to be morally righteous while simultaneously harboring hatred and condoning terrorism.
The Klan was also able to tackle a perceived problem with organized labor. That is, labor unions had started to recognize the rights of all workers and not just white ones. When groups like the AFL/CIO started to welcome African-American membership, recognizing the universality of worker rights, the Klan reacted by spearheading anti-labor activism. This was one of the key strategies the Klan used to garner support from politicians that might have otherwise shunned Klan ideology that was more overtly racial or anti-Semitic. Targeting labor meant that the Klan was simply pro-business, or anti-socialist. Klan public relations and marketing specialists understood how to appeal to the hearts and souls of Middle Americans, even when, ironically, many were working class individuals. The changing demographic in labor was the way the Klan could achieve its goals and ascend to positions of political and business power. Being in cahoots with management meant that Klan "wizards" and ordinary members could climb up through the managerial and corporate ranks, thus leaving the low-wage jobs for immigrants. By turning around the condemning immigrant labor altogether, the Klan appeared to favor jobs for white Americans, while permitting the rapid upward social mobility of white Americans that would have been conscripted to low-income unskilled labor had there been no immigrants at all.
Therefore, the Ku Klux Klan was well aware of the paradoxes and hypocrisies in American society. Taking advantage of issues like race, class, gender, and political power, the Klan mobilized Americans from all states to champion causes that had nothing to do on the surface with racism. The Klan led to the institutionalization of racism, though, to the institutionalization of anti-immigrant policy, and to the institutionalization of an anti-intellectual and pro-Christian family values network in America. It is by going deeper underground, cloaking itself in more than just white sheets that the Klan was able to succeed well in becoming more powerful than ever before during the interwar period.
Alexander, CC, 'Kleagles and Cash: The Ku Klux Klan as a Business Organization," the Business History Review, Vol 39, No 3, p. 348-367.
Gitlin, M the Ku Klux Klan: A Guide to American Subculture, Santa Barbara, Greenwood, 2009.
Greenhaw, W Fighting the Devil in Dixie, Lawrence Hill, Chicago, 2011.
Griffin, LJ, Wilson, CR, Hargis, PG, Social Class. Vol 20 of the New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, University of North Carolina Press, 2012.
Holley, D, 'A Look Behind the Masks: The 1920s Ku Klux Klan in Monticello, Arkansas," the Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Vol…