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Poisoning the Web: Hatred Online
Internet Bigotry, Extremism and Violence
Table of Contents

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Responding to Extremist
Speech Online:

10 Frequently Asked Questions
The Ku Klux Klan:
Burning Crosses in Cyberspace

NAAWP members sometimes attend rallies organized by an older, better-known hate group: the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). For more than 130 years, the Klan has provided a model for extremists by actively practicing and promoting bigotry, intimidation and violence.

The strength of America's oldest hate group has fluctuated, peaking and receding at various times in American history, coinciding with the rise and decline of social and economic discontent in the nation. The economic, political and cultural changes in the South after the Civil War, the dislocations in the early 1920s and the struggle for civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s all fueled Klan growth.

In recent years, as a result of the counteractions of law enforcement and civil rights groups, changing fashions in the extremist movement, and internal power struggles, the Klan has lost much of its clout. David Duke's Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which fell into decline when Don Black went to jail, underwent a major split in 1994. Other large, national Klans active in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s have also disintegrated. For instance, a 1987 Southern Poverty Law Center legal victory effectively dismantled the United Klans of America after its members lynched a Black teen-ager, Michael Donald. A 1993 court order disbanded the Invisible Empire, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan after group members pelted civil rights activists with rocks and bottles during a brotherhood march in Forsyth County, Georgia.

Still, in the 1990s, Klan members remain active and violent, planning terrorist bombings and burning Black churches. In April 1997, three Klan members were arrested in a plot to blow up a natural gas refinery near Fort Worth, Texas. Three more men with links to the Klan were arrested in February 1998 for planning to poison water supplies, rob banks, plant bombs, and commit assassinations. In a July 1998 court judgment, the Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, its South Carolina state leader Horace King, and several other Klansmen were held responsible for their roles in a conspiracy to burn down a Black church.

Like other white supremacist groups, the Klan has turned to the Internet as a means to revitalize their movement and attract a new cadre of supporters and activists. "Up until last month, the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Realm of Florida was very small," writes Brian K. Bass of his Klan group. "But now we have a website up, and our numbers are growing dramatically. We picked up 6 new members in just the last two weeks, and have other applications under consideration. I feel that this is due to the website."16

Like other white supremacist groups, the Klan has turned to the Internet as a means to revitalize their movement and attract a new cadre of supporters and activists.

On the Web, some Klan factions favor the toned-down rhetoric associated with the NAAWP and other hate groups trying to appear mainstream. The first Klan page on the Web belonged to a group that adopted this strategy: Thom Robb's Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

Robb's site presented a "kinder, gentler" Klan that teaches white racial pride but professes to be neither anti-Black nor anti-Catholic. Whites "have a right to be proud of their race"17 the site explains, adding that the popular image of a racist Klan is a lie deliberately spread by the liberal media.

Nonetheless, Robb's site relied on traditional Klan themes: whites are victims of intolerance who face racial extinction from a horde of Blacks and foreigners eager to intermarry and destroy American culture and religion; America should belong to Americans, not Asians, Arabs or Jews. Furthermore, early incarnations of Robb's site reprinted the "Franklin Prophecy," a vile, anti-Semitic speech falsely attributed to Benjamin Franklin.

As of mid-1997, about half of the Klan sites on the Web were affiliated with Robb's group. Its impressive presence on the Internet obscured its diminished power and meant to give the casual observer the impression of a revived, vital and active Klan attracting members everywhere:

Here are some reasons why we are growing so fast and why the Klan Movement is the White People's answer...The Klan name and symbol breaks through the paper curtain of the anti-White media and brings us to the attention of those who want to learn more about us...The Klan is youth oriented...The Klan is worldwide in scope...The Klan is surging; it is pulsating forward and growing with every day and every hour.18

At that time, the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Realm of Texas site posted a glamorized, mythic version of the Klan's history one long rejected by historians. The site then offered a distorted account of the present, using its fictionalized history to argue that the Klan is needed because history is repeating itself:

The end of the War Between the States in April of 1865 marked the beginning of a terrible time of trouble for the citizens of the southern states...It was out of these dismal conditions that six just and decent men of honor came together forming the Ku Klux Klan. Led by General Nathan Bedford Forrest, by 1877 these courageous men had driven the troops back north. For a time, they saved the White South from...the hatred of the numerous renegade Negroes. Today, we are seeing history repeating itself. Our land is once again being destroyed by the same treason. This time it is not only confined to the South, but it is affecting the nation as a whole.19

This preposterous and self-serving version of history was coupled with the brazenly false historical claim that the Klan robe and hood have "never been used by the Klan for any type of wrong doing [sic]."20

Today, Robb's Klan site reflects even stronger efforts to appear respectable, particularly in stating, like Duke, that the Klan's goal should be "political power."21 This "political power" is to be used to combat "anti-white and anti-Christian propaganda" and "to promote "White Christian civilization." Robb remains dismissive of the Klan's violent image, claiming his group "is well known through out [sic] law enforcement for being non-violent."

Some Klan members are not content with this toned-down language. Robb comments that "some individuals quit [his group] because they don't believe we are 'tough enough!'" Possibly he was referring to Dennis McGiffen, David Neumann, and Troy Murphy, who broke from Robb in 1994 to start their own Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Michigan.

Now led by Shane Crowe of Louisiana, this group has numerous sites on the Web as well. Unlike Robb's sites, those of the Michigan faction do not soft-pedal their bigotry. At the Web site of its Oregon chapter, this Klan openly and honestly declares, "we believe in White Supremacy. The Klan believes that America is a White man's country, and should be governed by White men." Blatant extremist views can also be found at the national Web site for Crowe's Klan, which features a prominent link to Stormfront, the text of Kevin Alfred Strom's "The Beast Is Saint," and a reprint of Henry Ford Sr.'s "classic" anti-Semitic text, The International Jew.

At its national site, Crowe's Klan has a page entitled "Judas Amoung [sic] Us," which describes numerous "traitors" to white supremacy, including Robert Spence, an "Imperial wizard [sic] who founded the True Knights of the Ku Klux Klan." Spence is accused of turning in and setting up four Klansmen who "allegedly were going to bomb an oil refinery, as a diversion for a robbery." Richard Bondira, whose address and phone number are also listed on the "Judas" page, is accused of turning in Troy Murphy, one of the leaders of Crowe's Klan, to the FBI.

One "traitor," Vince Reed, was described on the "Judas" page as an "FBI informant" who was "always trying to involve others in illegal activity." In fact, Reed was an informer who helped Federal prosecutors and the FBI win convictions against five supremacists, including former Klansman Dennis McGiffen. Following these convictions, Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman Smith told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "There has been an effort by numerous individuals to locate Mr. Reed." Citing an E-mail mailing list run by Crowe's Klan ("Klan-E-Mail-News"), the Post-Dispatch reported that a number of Klan activists looking for Reed posted numerous comments on the Internet. One Internet user wrote, "I have a picture of this RACE TRAITOR," and another offered a physical description of Reed, calling him "this scum of the Earth...I shall scan his picture from a news clipping and make it available."22

Internet users can also find the "Judas" page at the Web site of the Knights of the White Kamellia, Realm of Virginia. Another unabashedly bigoted Klan with more than a few Web sites, the Knights of the White Kamellia was founded in Louisiana in 1993.23 This group seeks to "maintain and defend the superiority of the White race," maintain "a marked difference between the White and Negro race," prevent the government "from falling into the hands of the Negro and or the ungodly," and educate "against miscegenation of the races."24

Many other Klans are also now on the Web. Web users can find a membership application for the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, perhaps today's most vocal and active Klan, at that group's Web site. A few sites use the old Klan moniker "Invisible Empire," among them America's Invisible Empire of Alabama and Pennsylvania's Invisible Empire KKK. Smaller regional groups, such as the Southern Cross Militant Knights and the Northwest Knights, are active on the Internet as well.

While the Klans on the Web represent different factions and espouse various viewpoints, their Web sites are formatted in similar ways. Most Klan sites contain a membership application, a list of upcoming rallies, a statement of principles, an explanation of customs (such as cross burning), and a spurious account of Klan history. At many sites, the three latter items are adaptations, if not direct appropriations, of the materials originally posted at Robb's Klan sites. In fact, Robb threatened Crowe's group with legal action for posting a document that Robb claims belongs exclusively to his Klan.

Furthermore, some Klan sites link to other Klan sites with which they are not affiliated. For instance, the North Georgia White Knights Web site links to many chapters of the Knights of the White Kamellia, the New Order Knights, and the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. The site for America's Invisible Empire links to the Web pages of the Northwest White Knights and Knights of the White Kamellia, among others. Such links, as well as the similarities between KKK sites, demonstrate the bonds among the different Klan factions, despite their infighting.

Also common to many Klan Web sites is advocacy of "Identity," a pseudo-theology that claims to be a form of Christianity, but is in reality a hateful mixture of anti-Semitism, racism, and homophobia. Identity holds that Jews are the offspring of Satan; that Blacks and other racial minorities are inferior; and that white Anglo-Saxons are the "true Israelites."

Though his Klan site currently contains no mention of Identity, Thom Robb has long been an adherent, and one of his earlier Klan sites provided links to Identity sites. Crowe's Knights of the Ku Klux Klan site and the Oregon chapter site contain numerous links to Identity materials. The Northwest Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Web site lists "Christian Identity programs on cable access" and Identity events, along with an article sympathetic to Identity "theology" entitled, "Christian Identity: What is It?" The Web site of the Knights of the White Kamellia Texas chapter includes the text of an Identity article which claims that "many Christians may have much more Hebrew-'Israelite' blood in their veins than most of their Jewish neighbors." At its site, the White Camelia Knights of the KKK identifies itself as simply a "Christian Identity Klan."

Next: Identity Church Movement


16 Nationalist Observer "Racial Reader's Forum," November 18, 1998

17 "Klan FAQ," Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Web site, retrieved 1995

18 "An Introduction to the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan," Northwest Office of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Web site, retrieved July 1997

19 "History in Perspective," Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Realm of Texas Web site, retrieved July 1997

20 "Klan Traditions," Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Realm of Texas Web site, retrieved July 1997

21 "Our Vision - the 6th Era - and why you should support the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan!," Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Web site, retrieved August 1998

22 "Hate-group informer is targeted on Internet," by Charles Bosworth Jr., St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 14, 1998

23 "History of the Knights of the White Kamellia, Ku Klux Klan," Knights of the White Kamellia Headquarters homepage, retrieved June 1998

24 Knights of the White Kamellia Headquarters homepage, retrieved October 1998


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