19 May 2006

Marilyn Musgrave Darling of the KKK

Colorado's incumbent Representative in the Fourth Congressional District is a darling of the Ku Klux Klan. They have a page on their website singing her praises. Many web filters don't allow direct visits to the site, so I'll connect you to the Soapblox post on the topic.

As a tip to them, if you like Republican Marilyn Musgrave, you'll love Republican Wayne Allard, Colorado's senior Senator, who is making headlines today with his own anti-gay Constitutional Amendment proposal (supported exclusively by Republicans).

As an aside, Allard, like Republican Marilyn Musgrave and departing Republican Representative Joel Hefley, is part of the U.S. Senate's pro-torture caucus, whom I've defined as the members of Congress who voted against Republican John McCain's motion to ban torture by U.S. officials. This is particularly notable today as the United Nations Committee Against Torture has called on the U.S. to shut down its Guantanamo Bay prison in an eleven page report, a call joined by Britain's attorney general, Lord Goldsmith. Its report found that U.S. approved and used interrogation practices "constitute torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment", in violation of an anti-torture treaty to which the United States is a party. This is happening at a time when the U.S. needs U.N. support in dealing with Iran, and support from British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

This certainly isn't the last time the KKK took an interest in Colorado politics. In the 1920s, around the time my house was built, the KKK was a force to be reckoned with in Colorado politics.

Between 1921 and 1925, the Klan flourished politically in Colorado, part of a national resurgence amid a time of social unrest after World War I.

Five percent of the state's 1 million residents at the time -- claimed membership in the secretive, racist group. . . .

Clarence Morley, an obscure Denver District Court judge and high-ranking Klan officer, became governor. Rice Means -- a Klan member appointed Denver's city attorney -- won a short-term U.S. Senate seat. Ben Stapleton became Denver's mayor with Klan support, then survived a recall election with Locke running his campaign.

Yes, the guy Denver's crowned jewel of New Urbanism is named after a Ku Klux Klan backed Mayor, via the airport that was named after him because he was the main political force behind its construction. Still, names can be laundered and redeemed. They have only the symbolic value that is attributed to them regardless of the truth. Today's Stapleton, in defiance of its history, is probably second only the Park Hill as the most integrated middle class neighborhood in Denver proper. A Jewish friend of mine there, whose spouse is Hispanic, who also happens to be a wine importer and distributor, is part of an active effort to build a huge new Jewish synagogue in the neighborhood, possibly incorporating some historic Stapleton airport structures. We'll all be delighted if Ben Stapleton rolls over in his grave as a result, his airport project itself, supplanted by bigger and better things in an airport built with the efforts of a man whose last name is Pena.

There have even been Ku Klux Klan connections to Colorado politics in recent history.

[T]he Family Research Council (associated with - and at the time a part of - Focus on the Family) paid former KKK leader David Duke $82,000 for - you guessed it - a membership list from the KKK.

It really isn't surprising that politicians like Musgrave win KKK approval. Indeed, both Republican Representative Tancredo's anti-immigrant movement and Marilyn Musgrave's Christian conservative movement have intellectual roots in the second KKK, the incarnation that dominated Colorado politics in the early 1920s.

As you'd expect, it was racist, nativist, prohibitionist, anti-Semitic, and anti-Catholic, but its worldview wasn't always consistent or coherent: . . . . The Klan that emerged . . . was urban, national, and largely concerned with enforcing an authoritarian moral order. . . . "Klansman's conception of reform encompassed efforts to preserve premarital chastity, marital fidelity, and respect for parental authority; to compel obedience of state and national prohibition laws; to fight the postwar crime wave. . . . The Klan of the '20s . . . "was at once mainstream and extreme, hostile to big business and antagonistic to labor unions, anti-elitist and hateful of blacks and immigrants, pro-law and order and prone to extralegal violence.

The history also leaves some not so gentle reminders for the left. While Colorado Klansmen were associated mostly with the Republican Party, which was then in the process of transforming itself from the liberal party of Lincoln to the conservative party we see today, the pre-civil rights Democratic Party (the dominant party of white Southerners), was nothing to write home about.

The Klan . . . played a major role in the Democratic convention of 1924; its members included future president Harry Truman and future Supreme Court justice Hugo Black. . . . Progressivism had roots in the Protestant pietist tradition . . . Jane Addams, the Social Gospel activist who played such a big role in passing protective labor regulations and compulsory schooling laws, was also a critic of the "debased form of dramatic art, and a vulgar type of music" that a young person might find in the five-cent theaters, writing that it was "astounding that a city allows thousands of its youth to fill their impressionable minds with these absurdities." Prohibition, that Klan kause kelebre, reached its height as a cause during the Progressive Era, complete with muckraking exposés of the "whiskey ring" and culminating with the passage of the eighteenth amendment in 1919.

Racism also had a foothold among the progressives. It might be tempting to argue that bigots like Woodrow Wilson, who introduced Jim Crow rules to the federal government, were merely progressive in some areas and reactionary in others. But the American eugenics movement was tied closely to the progressives' drive for "scientific" reform, and its heyday covered both the Progressive Era and the '20s. Politicians offered eugenic arguments . . . for restrictions on immigration from southern and central Europe. . . .

[T]he 1924 election indicates the extent to which the Klan was entangled with the progressives. For that was the year of the Democrats' infamous "klanbake" convention, when Klansmen participated heavily as delegates and blocked a platform plank that would have condemned their order. They also entered the presidential race, mostly to oppose the candidacy of Al Smith, who as an anti-prohibitionist and a Catholic was anathema to the group . . . the Democrats wound up picking a compromise candidate, John Davis, whose other claim to fame would be to argue the segregationist side in Brown v. Board of Education three decades later.

If your interested in this kind of thing, and aren't allergic to actual physical paper, there has been a great deal written on the subject.


Dex said...

look - over there! ward churchill!

Anonymous said...

Do you have any concerns that this relationship between Marilyn Musgrave and the KKK was a hoax?