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Meeting Rand Paul And The Klan At The Burning Crossroads

Carl, an Imperial Wizard of a southern-based Ku Klux Klan realm, takes aim with a pellet gun at a large cockroach (on the piece of paper just below the clock) while his wife and goddaughter try to avoid getting struck by a possible ricochet. Photo by Anthony S. Karen

Carl, an Imperial Wizard of a southern-based Ku Klux Klan realm, takes aim with a pellet gun at a large cockroach (on the piece of paper just below the clock) while his wife and goddaughter try to avoid getting struck by a possible ricochet. Photo by Anthony S. Karen

Gawker posted the work of photojournalist Anthony S. Karen this past week, with this one being the ‘money-shot’ in a long line of photos in what appears to be a day in the life of the Ku Klux Klan in America.

It’s about what you’d expect; hyper-patriotic white people overcompensating with their guns and Bibles and their goober-rituals dressing up in their violent fantasy role-playing garb– Grand Wizards and Dragons, and culture warriors, and such.

Looking through the photographs, you see little kids standing on dilapidated porches that time and the Census Man forgot. You see scraggly, submissive wives and girlfriends trying in vain to shatter those glass ceilings in what has to be Hell-on-Earth– making sure that all the hate garments are neatly pressed with cigarette smoke and the smell of cheap stale beer for a night at the Hillbilly Oscars is, in a word: America.

This is the mindset that gives the GOP their fighting spirit. The Lost Causers, fearful and resentful of changing demographics. Go to any Klan site and you’re likely to be overrun with images of the Stars & Stripes melding into images of the Stars & Bars, with bald eagles everywhere acting as the vigilant gargoyles of whiteness, staring off into the distant greatness of white America that can only be realized with a little mass-genocide and ethnic cleansing.

What’s telling is that the Klan and the GOP have much more in common than just states’ rights arguments, making abortion a capital crime, and textbook rewrites that make all of that sound like patriotic duty, with empathy for the plight of the billionaire probably the most ludicrous aspect of their collective, dirt-poor ideology.

Barack Obama unites them all under one common cause. The anti-Obama fever has infiltrated the Klan and GOP websites alike. Whether it’s Mitch McConnell and Jim DeMint vowing to lynch destroy this presidency, or Carl up there shooting at a cockroach on the wall, the president has united the true dregs of the culture under some bizarro, hateful and intolerant American flag.

When leaders like Rand Paul claim that the Civil Rights Act is obsolete, or never should have been, or tries explaining away his close ties to not just overt racists, but a sort of permanent carnival in racism’s honor on federal lands, and claims he knows what’s best for you and your fetus, chalking it up to a benign difference of opinion, he’s really no different from Carl.

Rand Paul has become a sort of civil liberties hero on the anti-Obama left and right, but you have to ask yourself if a little more perceived internet privacy in the public commons is worth the abolishment of a woman’s right to choose, protections for gay people and low wage workers, food security, environmental protections, education funding– all replaced with a whole host of terrible, anti-American ideas that all stem from a worldview that still holds the Census man in contempt. No policy would be too ignorant of history and politically repugnant for a Rand Paul veto pen. His views on privacy can best be described as a shotgun pointed at anyone from the government who stumbles onto his kinfolk’s property to bust up their mountain moonshine operation. His views on privacy have very little to do with your rights, women and minorities, and more to do with the preservation of the absolute rights of white men to speak for an entire nation.

And that should be a warning to Ron and Rand Paul supporters of the so-called left, but, evidently, it’s not much of a concern at all. But if you need to ally with such openly disreputable characters to meet your ends, maybe your ends need to be redefined? Because if Rand Paul is the product of the libertarian-Jesus loins of Father Ron, Rand Paul’s imbecilic retorts and rebuttals and defenses of racists means that the ideological paterfamilias in the House Of Paul produced a terrible human being with scarce empathy and insight lacking any peripheral vision. I would expect more from the spawn of such a highly touted hero of big, complex ideas, like, “Liberty and Freedom!”

The saying goes that Fox News may not be racist, but they’re “#1 with racists,” goes for Rand Paul and the GOP as well. I cannot, for the life of me, ever stipulate that the racist who’s number one with racists has a point about anything other than representing the living embodiment of ignorance and intolerance.

Carl up there might as well be the soul of today’s Republican party. Clinging to the soil beneath them to demonstrate the fading glory of whiteness. Taking aim at the cockroaches of civilization. Spouting off about big government intrusions and slapping their womenfolk upside the lip when they get too whiny about popping out the future Rand Pauls of the world.

Like Tea Party hero Rand Paul, Carl wants his country back, too. They want a return to the days when everyone knew their place and they will use naively willing liberals, reluctantly if they have to, as human shields to take it all back. Whether at the end of a gun, or the end of a piece of Rand Paul-sponsored legislation, it’s all the same and it’s all draped in American flags and pledges of allegiance and it’s all intended to make it your patriotic duty to resent the rights of women and minorities.