Editorials

Release the Klan(s)!

Move over, Ashley Madison—there’s a new scandal in town.  At least, that’s what the media is desperate to have you believe.

In late October, the “hacktivist” group Anonymous, usually referred to oxymoronically as a “collective” of anarchists, announced that they had obtained the membership rolls of several Ku Klux Klan organizations.  They planned to release the names of a thousand or so members “in retaliation” for “the Klan’s” threats of violence against protestors in Ferguson, Missouri.  (According to the FBI, there are approximately 3,000 to 5,000 members of the Klan in the entire United States.)  Following the lead of Anonymous, almost every news report referred to “the” Ku Klux Klan, as if there were a single national organization by that name.  In reality, the hundreds of organizations around the country that use the Klan name are not even chapters, in a traditional sense; they are competing organizations that are so utterly unrelated that they make the far fringes of Protestantism look as centralized as the Catholic Church.

That in itself should have fostered doubts about Anonymous’s claims in the mind of any relatively competent reporter; that it did not speaks volumes about the state of journalism today.

Still, Anonymous made the story too juicy to resist.  There were, they claimed,...

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