Over the weekend, The New York Times published a book review of some new volumes on the history of the KKK. The author, Ohio State University professor Kevin Boyle, begins the review thusly:
Imagine a political movement created in a moment of terrible anxiety, its origins shrouded in a peculiar combination of manipulation and grass-roots mobilization, its ranks dominated by Christian conservatives and self-proclaimed patriots, its agenda driven by its members’ fervent embrace of nationalism, nativism and moral regeneration, with more than a whiff of racism wafting through it.
No, not that movement. The one from the 1920s, with the sheets and the flaming crosses and the ludicrous name meant to evoke a heroic past. The Invisible Empire of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, they called it. And for a few years it burned across the nation, a fearsome thing to behold.
Suffice to say, things go downhill from there. Jonah Goldberg has more on how Boyle ties himself in knots as he struggles to avoid mentioning that the Klan was primarily involved with the Progressive movement and the Democratic party. And while we're on the topic, Reason managing editor Jesse Walker's article "Hooded Progressivism: The secret reformist history of the Ku Klux Klan" is excellent if you want to get your Klan history straight.