How significant was the political influence of the Klu Klux Klan
in 20th century America?
The influence of the Ku Klux Klan on American politics has been moderately significant in shaping social attitudes as well as the political climate of 20th century American society, through the forceful diffusion of Klan ideologies. The extremist group played a relatively important role in the political repression of religious and ethnic minorities in America in the 1920’s by conventional politicking and means of terror.The Klan through influence on government bodies attempts to install the patriotic, moral and religious ideologies of the Klan upon society have demonstrated their political prevalence, however, the attribution of racial bias and white supremacy in politics can be challenged. The extent of the political influence of the Klan is a highly ambivalent issue subject to propagandic portrayal and sensationalism, but despite that the significance of the Klan’s influence is relatively evident in American history.
The Ku Klux Klan were first established by confederate veterans in 1865 during the Reconstruction period as a reaction against the policies of the Victorious North and rights for African Americans. They were initially a secret society that utilised violence and terror to enforce white supremacy in America to ensure that minorities did not gain power. The second wave Klan of the 1920’s were less concerned with extremism and racial violence, but more so involved in political activism against those they deemed “un-American” - African Americans, religious minorities and immigrants. The Klan arose again in reaction against the newly gained civil and political rights by African Americans in the South during the civil rights movement and the great influx of immigration due to the war. Their political goals included political defeat of liberal attitudes and maintainence of white supremacy.
The influence of the Ku Klux Klan was shown to be exceedingly evident in American politics, as demonstrated through historical discussion of the sheer prevalence of Klansmen and those that endorse Klan ideology in office. The Klan existed as a radical fringe group to the wider nation, however on local levels of government especially in Southern states, the Klan was viewed as a potent driving force. The Klan directly involved themselves in politics through influence on elections, in which they endorsed politicians that would uphold values that coincided with Klan ideology. American historian, Dr. Arnold S. Rice testifies in his 1962 study that the Klan influence was “far greater than its numerical strength could indicate [and lead] many millions of americans who adhered to a brand of politics derived from chauvinism and religio-racial antipathies”. In this retrospective analysis of the second wave Klan amidst the political tension of the Civil Rights movement, Rice stresses the vast impacts of the Klan's political power due to their the sheer amount of citizens that...