In this special report from Issue One of HISKIND, Publishing Editor Dean Eastmond meets an active member of the Ku Klux Klan to talk about Trump, Neo-Nazism and many more unsettling issues.
“Homosexuality isn’t genetic. It’s a sin. The primary concern with drug abusers is to get them help for their sins; the same should be done for homosexual people,” I’m told. “I’m not a psychologist, but maybe they’re doing gay conversion therapy the wrong way. I’m not saying ‘let’s kill them all because they’re living in sin’ but we shouldn’t be openly accepting of it.”
This is Ken Parker, a Grand Dragon in the Little White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and a prolific member of the National Socialist Movement, a political hate group operating across America. The 30-something year old Christian mechanical engineering college student joins me in a local coffee shop with his girlfriend and fellow Klanswoman, Crystal. The pair don’t identify as Neo-Nazis (despite the swastika being part of the NSM’s emblem and tattooed in Crystal’s ear), but as “national socialists.”
What really ignites a sense of fear and the reality of the situation isn’t that I have found myself opposite two active KKK members, sipping away at their Frappuccinos, but in day-to-day life, Parker is a military veteran and Crystal is a police officer. 892 hate groups currently actively operate within the United States, 100 more than two years ago, with Parker being participants in two of them. His beliefs have raised eyebrows and lost him various jobs.
“We have politicians, congressmen, doctors, lawyers, senators and police officers within our ranks,” Parker proudly reveals.
Founded in 1866, the Ku Klux Klan became a vehicle for white Southern resistance to the Republican Party’s Reconstruction-era policies aimed at establishing political and economic equality for African Americans. By 1925, the Klan had 4 million members and, in some states, considerable political power. But a series of sex scandals, internal battles over power and newspaper exposés quickly reduced its influence. The Klan arose a third time during the 1960s to oppose the civil rights movement and to preserve segregation in the face of unfavourable court rulings. The KKK’s bombings, murders and lynchings took a myriad of innocent lives, including four young girls preparing for Sunday services. Now, in 2016, an estimated 8,000 members still actively exist across the country.
Parker couldn’t really tell me what the KKK do, other than recruit other people to join and “take America back”, which he describes as “kind of like building an army.” He tells me that only “worthy people” are to be recruited: “true Christian members who are productive to society.”
“When the time comes to take action, we’ll have everyone on board. We need to take our country back. Whites are quickly becoming a minority right now.” Taking action, according to the couple in front of me, “will have to be through violence.”
“There have been a lot of people saying we need to do it politically – I don’t think that’s going to work,” he follows with a laugh, reverberating the thick Southern tones to his voice. “Liberals are little cry babies. They need to crawl back into their little ‘safe spaces’ and wear their safety pins [referring to a campaign to show solidarity with minorities].”
“I think Christian white people should be able to go out there with baseball bats and guns and put an end to this bullshit. I didn’t feel bad when Pulse happened [the Orlando nightclub where 49 LGBT+ people were murdered by a gunman]. I wouldn’t do it but I didn’t lose any sleep. I think gay people need to leave our country.”
I then listen to a ten-minute spew of why homosexuality is “disgusting” and “an abomination” through the preaching of various Bible readings, which quickly transcends into an angry, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and incredibly racist rant too abhorrent to be printed. His hatred, masked with religion, would put many Christians to shame, and propagates nonsense that all Muslims are judged by extremist values.
“I wear a Trump t-shirt and a hat at college and people look at me like they want to bash me over the head with their long-boards. I hope they do – it would be the last thing that they ever did in their life. If Trump only does half of what he says he’s going to do, he’ll be the best president this country has ever seen.”
Within a week of Donald Trump’s presidential victory in November 2016, over 300 hate crimes against ethnic minorities and LGBT+ people were recorded across America, which Parker shrugs off with “they could have tried snatching someone’s Trump hat.”
At this point, Parker takes a moment to diverge from his ranting to refer to my skinny jeans: “If there was a kid wearing skinny jeans when I was at school, he’d get his head stuck in the toilet, a wedgie and beaten up.”
This man wouldn’t think twice about disowning his future children if they came out as gay to him. His kids, if he does have them, will be home-schooled away from “this public school crap”, where he criticises how anti-gay Bible passages aren’t taught to children and Christians. “They have to preach peace, love and happiness; they have to perform same-sex marriages. Marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Though Parker has yet to have any children of his own, he describes the KKK as a family and brotherhood, a group where they’re all there for each other. I’m told the hate group is more than just putting on white sheets and prancing around a cross. The dress code symbolises that no one in the “white race” is better than anyone else in the “white race” regardless of socio-economic status, despite Mr Parker being intently homophobic and anti-Semitic.
“The only true god is the Christian god and anyone who doesn’t worship him is a Satan and they’re going to die,” he tells me.
“I don’t even think the Holocaust happened,” he starts. “Why did the Jews get to boo-hoo about the Holocaust when every race has been a slave at one point in history. They had movie theatres and swimming pools in Auschwitz, I don’t think they really had it that bad.” His historical inaccuracies are as baffling as his religious extremism.
Parker then takes the opportunity to spit the idea that liberal associations are the core of the nation’s hatred. Black Lives Matter, an organisation who tackle institutionalised racism and police brutality towards African Americans, is considered a ‘true’ hate group to Parker, who claims they are “way more violent than the KKK or the Nazis were.”
“I’ve been to a few Black Lives Matter protests and they spew just as much hate as they think I do,” Parker tells me, while claiming he attends these events in his KKK robes. “I go there to show them that the white race is not going to roll over for them. I don’t care what their agenda is. If and when my commander calls for us to take to the streets, it will be for revolution and taking our country back. I would not consider our actions criminal.”
I’m told the murders by police of Michael Brown and countless other innocent black men and women across America are justified because “they all owned guns”, despite him proudly claiming to own enough ammunition to put a stop to “liberal cry babies” on his Facebook page. His proposed solution to the police brutality that he denies exists is widespread segregation across America, which he argues worked great for a long time and that the US has had a lot more issues since the Civil Rights Act was introduced in the 60s.
“I don’t believe in it,” Parker proclaims when asked what he defines as racism. “I think it’s stupid. It’s a one-sided argument where white people are apparently the only group of people who can be racist. I don’t believe in hate crimes – I just believe in crime.”
Though his girlfriend Crystal now affiliates with the hate group, the KKK haven’t always accepted women. Though the Klan historically consisted of all men, a separate group compiled of Klansmen’s wives called the Ladies of the Invisible Empire (LOTIES) existed. LOTIES operated as a singular matriarch with their own laws to abide by and worked alongside the KKK. Even though the Klan now accepts women within their ranks, the highest leading female still has zero say over even the newest member of the Klan. I’m told they follow the structure of the Bible where the male is the leader of the household.
“One of the reasons the Klan exists is to protect the sanctity of women. If we lost all our women, the white race would disappear – they’re a very precious thing,” Parker declares. “White women are being lost everywhere. Cultural genocide is happening. You see these mixed couples walking around and it makes my stomach turn. Every commercial you see has an Asian kid and a white mum – that’s the Jewish media. I hardly watch TV because it makes my blood pressure go up so much.”
This is a man who endorses Trump. He is the face of America’s next four years. Since the election that rattled America to its core, the world has seen more outward Nazi-like behaviour. Labour MP Jo Cox’s murderer decorated his home with Nazi books and statues; Nigel Farage’s anti-migrant posters have been likened to Nazi propaganda; and with the rise of the Alt-Right and far right movements across Europe and America, Parker and his allies are galvanised and ready. It’s time we all unite and fight for what is right: love.