Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Another Urban Legend: Obama and the KKK

Oh, how I wish it were true. Of all the urban legends circulating the Internet, this one takes the prize as the most ridiculous assertion of them all.

It came to me from four different senders. I had to fight the tears after reading the first few lines the first time. Then it hit me. No way that one is true. Experience has taught me to check the sources before moving on a lead. Over the years, I have been bitten by listening to the wrong people, and had to admit that I moved too soon in writing a column. The voice of my former journalism professor could be heard-“check your sources, check your sources, check your sources.”

“Imperial Wizard, Ronald Edwards, has stated that ‘anything is better than Hillary Clinton,'” the email read. “White Christian Supremacist group the Klu Klux Klan has endorsed Barack Obama to be the next President of the United States of America”

For a brief second I felt the presence of those who had fought for freedom. I felt Martin and Fannie Lou, Fredrick Douglas and Marcus Garvey with me to celebrate this monumental moment in American history. I felt the force of countless marches and the drive of the words uttered in times of frustration-“We shall overcome, someday.” Could this be the end of it all? Could this be the end of the ignorance of racial hatred in this country?

It is beginning to feel that way, with Barack Obama winning in states where few black people reside. It is significant that race seems to matter less now, and that America is willing to consider the possibility of being led by a person who isn’t a white man. The recent rise of Obama over Clinton raises another interesting issue-is America’s sexism more of a burden than its racism?

“This is the first time in Klan history that any member of the KKK has ever publicly supported an African American candidate for the presidency,” the email continued. “KKK lodges all over America have been gathering and holding rallies supporting the black presidential candidate.”

I read the email intrigued by the implications of it all. If it were true, if in fact a member of the KKK could move past their indifference toward black people and endorse a black man for the highest office in the land, it would signal the realization of King’s dream. If that could happen it would mean so much. It would mean the end of it all. What stunned me most about the email wasn’t the assertion made. It was that, for a brief moment, I believed it to be true.

It shocked me that I was willing to trust the claim. Not only that, others, who are all black, thought the same thing. They sent me the email believing it was possible for a leader of the KKK to be converted. I then took a look at the beginning of the email. “White Christian Supremacist group” was used to describe the organization. That one word caught my attention-Christian. There is nothing about the KKK that compares to the Christianity I proclaim. Yes, the burning of the cross reminds me of the logo of the United Methodist Church (I wish they would change that image), but nothing they teach, nothing they do speaks to the message of the Jesus I follow.

Those who sent the email may have been thinking the same thing that crossed my mind when I first read the message-that God has touched them. That the nation is enduring a revival that has impacted even members of the KKK. How I wish it were true.

What a difference it would all make. We could celebrate the end of it all. But it’s not true. It never happened. We’re left with a few truths that still hinder the progress of our nation. For some, a woman isn’t worthy to lead us, and a black man isn’t smart enough to do the job.

The double standards still pop up from time to time. Obama lacks substance some have said. Is that true, or is it another way of saying a black man doesn’t have the brains to do the job? There may be problems with Clinton, but at least we have her husband to keep her in check. Shucks, everyone knows who the real President will be.

For a few moments I celebrated a new day. Oh, I wish it were true, but race and sex continue to drive the agendas of far too many people in this country. The good news is we can see the end of the tunnel. I believed it for a moment. Keep praying. Before long, it may become a reality.


  1. Given the various sensational e-mailings on the Internet we all receive, it's a wonder that people believe anything is true. Human nature, being what it is, however, means that people will often believe fantastic rumors and conspiracy theories if they even come close to matching our beliefs or fears.

    The next time one of us receives an e-mail or hears a rumor that doesn't even pass the "smell test," just log on to www.snopes.com where the truth about a variety of rumors and urban legends can be found.

    I agree with Carl on this one, "Oh that it were true!"

  2. Carl:

    First of all, welcome back!

    I fear you are too much of an optimist. Until proven otherwise we must assume that Mr. Obama is simply shilling for the corporate paymasters. We know that Ms. Clinton is.

    Cynical? Sure. The old saying "follow the money" applies here.

    I have yet to hear Mr. Obama say anything that truly challenges the Military Industrial Complex or the Corporate Aristocracy. "Change" is not a platform, it's a narcotic.

    John Lennon (or was it Yoko?) called woman "the nigger of the world". So, yes, it is very possible that America's sexism trumps its racism.

    Glad to have you back.


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