In The Rise of the Ku Klux Klan: Right-Wing Movements and National Politics, University of Notre Dame sociology chair Rory McVeigh reveals that the KKK was about more than just promoting white supremacy. It was also actively involved in other matters of interest to low-income whites, particularly ending child labor and instituting compulsory public education (segregated, naturally). The Klan decried sweatshops, both for good reasons (work stunting children’s physical growth) and bad ones (children’s minds being “warped” by working alongside immigrants). Professor McVeigh concludes:
Certainly, many of the men and women who were drawn to the Ku Klux Klan were genuinely concerned about the detrimental effects of labor on young children and not simply concerned about restricting the rise of unskilled labor. On this point, and on several others, the Klan aligned with the progressive movement.
The Klan, progressive?! Hardly, and Professor McVeigh certainly isn’t a KKK sympathizer. If anything, the Klan’s embrace of good causes like ending child labor made things worse, because it drew in well-meaning supporters. An organization that does nothing but lynch people is an organization that people of sound and compassionate mind will reject out of hand. By attaching itself to some positive advocacy, the KKK became more respectable—and dangerous.
Today, the KKK is rightly remembered not as a friend of exploited children, but as a violently racist hate group responsible for thousands of murders.
Donald Trump is under fire for saying that Planned Parenthood does “wonderful things.” It’s true that PP offers contraception and some cancer screening services (but not mammograms) that genuinely do promote women’s health.
But when those services are used as P.R. cover whenever light shines on Planned Parenthood’s industrial-scale slaughter of preborn children, they’re not “wonderful.” They’re part of the problem. They draw well-meaning people toward an organization that is increasingly synonymous with abortion. And they allow Planned Parenthood to siphon off taxpayer funding that ought to go to more deserving organizations that offer the exact same legitimate, non-lethal services.
When the right to life is restored, Planned Parenthood will be remembered not as a friend of women, but as a violently ageist organization responsible for millions of murders.