Historian Linda Gordon was recently at the American Academy in Berlin, as a Marcus Bierich Distinguished Visitor, to discuss her latest book, “The Second Coming of the KKK.” In it, Gord...
Marcus Bierich Lecture in the Humanities
Populism, Fascism, and the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s
The American Ku Klux Klan is familiar to many: after the Civil War, it formed in the southern states as a masked terrorist group devoted to maintaining white supremacy and ensuring cheap sharecropper labor. But few know about the “second KKK,” which attracted three to six million members in the 1920s in the northern states. It became a mass organization by expanding its enemies list to include Catholics and Jews. It claimed that America was “destined” to be a white Protestant nation, and that God had created the Klan in order to stop Catholic and Jewish conspiracies to seize power. This second Klan was mainly nonviolent, was not secret, and pursued a highly successful electoral and legislative strategy. In this talk, historian Linda Gordon argues that the second Klan’s white nationalist ideology and strategy continue to influence US politics and can help to illuminate the recent rise of “populist” and fascistic movements around the globe.