Sunday, June 06, 2010


So we're watching The History Channel last night and they had a thing on 1968 which looked relatively balanced to me, hosted by Tom Brokaw.  It seemed more sympathetic to the counter-culture movement but did have some people from the other side giving a rational look from that point of view and was even mildly critical of some of the elements in that counter-culture.

Then they had a couple of hours on the KKK. You know, I knew enough about the Klan from what I'd heard when I was little and from the occasional mention of their pathetic rallies as an adult. I grew up Catholic and had been told the targets of their vileness extended to Catholics and Jews ... and my young mind was terrified of being tarred and feathered and/or killed. I knew what they were, and a lot of the terrible things they had done, but I'd never been exposed to so much detail before last night. One could argue that I already knew enough about them, and I'd agree with that. But more knowledge can be useful. I got a look at the periodic waxing and waning of it's popularity and size and "got" to hear some actual rhetoric from historic and modern Klansmen ... and it still sandblasted my sensibilities to see actual apparent human beings saying these things. And seeing kids at these events being indoctrinated ... that was heart-wrenching.

One thing stuck out like a sore thumb in the presentation - and this is partially because I did know some things about the Klan that most people today don't know explicitly. When they talked about its initial founding and growth, they talked about it being "prominent community leaders" and talked of acts of racial violence and murder by whites being acquitted by "all-white" juries. No mention of Democrats in this program, but they were the prominent party in the south, and they were the ones interested in keeping blacks from voting -- which was eventually a stated goal of the Klan.  Democrats started the Klan and used the Klan and were mostly responsible for the institutional racism in the south that took 100 years to finally break.

Only when the second wave of Klan popularity in the 1920's especially in Indiana by one David Curtis Stevenson (and boy is that one sick story!) was party ever mentioned, and it was repeatedly mentioned "Republican". But events and power structure in the south -- no party is mentioned. People at all familiar with the history of the South, slavery, and civil rights know, but more and more people do not (the younger, the less likely they know).

So the word association one comes out with after watching this is "Klan", "Prominent Leaders" (ie, rich and powerful), "All White", "Republican".  And I should add "Christian" -- because apparently they used churches and cloaked themselves in terms of Christian morality to get into communities.  But that collection of words comes off as an associative set, and that reflects the worldview of today's Left.

So of course it's not an out and out lie -- but it betrays the kind of bias Bernard Goldberg talked about in BIAS. Is it intentional? Perhaps not overtly. But one tends to color stories so that those sympathetic to one's worldview look better. And of course I'm never shocked to find out it is overt when it is.

Still, it was worth watching. Just never trust that you're getting the whole picture when you watch one of these things.

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