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What’s Happening? The Klan Returns . . . . Banks Beat Patman . . . Voters Say No Liberals Organize . . . 10 The Texas Observer NOV. 12, 1965 A Journal of Free Voices A Window to The South 25c THE KLAN RETURNS TO TEXAS Dan Strawn . Austin I had often heard of the Klan at home in Kenedy, but it has been long dead there. A few old fellows are still around who once belonged to it, but they no longer care anything about it and the ones I have talked to are not proud of having been in it. It was sort of like the Masons at the time. Anybody who was anybody was a member. It was the Christian thing to do. They always enjoyed meddling in others’ affairs, and any romance that they deemed improper they interfered with. I had heard them describe meetings. Some of them were comical. Kenedy in those days, in the twenties, was called Six-shooter Junction. There were several men around town who had reputations as killers, and quite naturally .some of them drifted into the Klan. However, I don’t know of any case where they killed for the Klan. Their killings were their own private affair. One day I had a conversation with a man down there who claimed that the Klan had kept him from having an education because he was a Catholic, but I believe that stupidity deprived him of his education more than anything else. There are plenty of well-educated Catholics around there, that is comparatively speaking. About the only notorious thing that the Klan did that it got credit for was a tar and feathering of a romantically inclined married travelling salesman who is supposed to have advertised that he was a count. He was let out at the bank corner in his new wardrobe. Apparently, the Klansmen were not quite so zealous among one another or all the chickens would probably have frozen the first winter. Some young hellions broke up a Klan meeting with-guns once, and this was sort of embarassing to them. The Klan is not remembered with any fondness, and to me it was a bygone era unremembered because it was gone before my childhood. The one who put the skids under it was Ma Fergusbn. If any of you will recall, Ma Ferguson was the gal who gave so many pardons when she was governor that kids used to say “Ma Ferguson” instead of “pardon me” when they belched at the table. It was under her administration in 1931 that the Klan was unmasked. A law was passed making it illegal to wear a mask in public. I don’t know what they do about Hal lowe’en, but the law did take care of the Klan. The Klan has a fascinating list of names and offices, most of them beginning with the letter “k.” The old Klan which was organized and developed between 1865 and 1868 reached its peak about 1870 and then died out after that. It was organized to combat Reconstruction enforced by the North, Negro rule, and the Southern Scalawags and Northern Carpetbaggers. It achieved its purpose and then died out. The South was the Invisible Empire. The ruling Grand Wizard was Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest; each state was called a Realm under a Grand Dragon. A Dominion consisted of several counties and was under a Grand Titan. The county was a Province under a Grand Giant. The smallest division was a Den under a Grand Cyclops. Staff officers had names like Genii, Hydras, Furies, Goblins, Night Hawks, Magi, Monks, and Turks. The rest of them were called Ghouls. The present Klan was started in 1915 on Stone Mountain, near Atlanta, Ga., by a preacher namedWilliam Joseph Simmons and was taken up after the First World War in the ensuing hysteria of patriotism and racism. Unlike the old Klan; it was nationwide. It elected senators, congressmen, and governors and became all powerful in the South and Middle West, but it went to pot in the late twenties. The wierd sounding titles, as many as I know of the present Klan, are, down the line: Imperial Wizard, Grand Dragon, King Kleagle, Kleagle, Exalted Cyclops. I guess they might still have their. Ghouls. Their preacher is called the Klud. Their local organization is the Klavern. HAD ALWAYS WANTED to see a Klan march and was delighted that they were going to have one in Austin to cheer Lyndon up on his Vietnam policy. The parade was to be at 3:00 p.m. and I tried to get down there early to find out where they were gathering. Passing by the airplane that sits on the University campus, I surmised that some of the Students for a Democratic Society would be down there too, although they had voted against a counter-demonstration, because I could see none of them sitting on the plane. In Austin they have been protesting their pacifism by sitting on the airplane like a flock of sparrows and by demonstrating against the R.O.T.C., whose hapless members are trying to escape from becoming buck privates when they are drafted. There were cops all over the place. They had their paddy wagon handy for business, and there was a monstrous crowd up on the Capitol grounds and along the edges of the streets where the Klansmen were supposed to march on the sidewalks: I walked up to where a group were standing and asked where the Klan was. A woman told me that she had seen them on a parking lot about a block away, robes and all. I threaded my way through the crowd over to the parking lot, and there they were, with arguments going on all over the place. I was highly amused to find that women were there wearing the Klan robes, but, then, I guess even the Klan is getting liberal. Any kind of an argument that you might want to listen to, you could pick out. The first one that I came across was a religious one between a Klanswoman and a man who had his wife and baby with him. They were having it out over the Bible. She was telling him to read his Bible and he was asking her about the good Samaritan, and she finally informed him that “the niggers have said they’ll kill a seventh of the white race” and he was beneath her intelligence, 41