For anyone who doesn’t know already, the last class of my undergraduate degree is a History course called The Social History of Popular Music. Though the title is a little misleading (it should include the adjective American), it’s an amazing course that surveys rock’n’roll music from it’s roots, right up into 1980. We spend a lot of time listening to the songs, which is great, and Skip Fisher (real name: Lewis) is a great prof. I’m completely blessed to be there, and I recommend that anyone and everyone take this course.
Meanwhile! that’s not the point. This entry comes from a fact that I discovered Monday night in class: the largest and most active section of the Ku Klux Klan operates – not from one of the Red states, the southern states, the places where one might think it would be – but from a more northern location: Calgary, Alberta.
I can’t say that I was completely shocked to learn that fact, but it was a bit disheartening to me that such a radical and isolationist group has such a presence here in Canada. I know I’m an optimist – and a proud Canadian – and that might make me seem a bit blind, but I preferred to see Canada as the benevolent nation it is in my heart, and that’s just a little tainted, now.
So, with a heavy heart, I Googled the Klan, and found the rather more disheartening official website of the most widely known white supremest group in the Western World. They call themselves “the Knights”, and the language on the website is just as extreme as one might expect. As I read on, and navigated my way around the rather archaic website setup, I noticed some references to “medieval predecessors” and that sort of thing. I was immediately irked; the unfortunate part is, the Klan are relatively medieval in their narrow-mindedness and religious extremism. I’ve studied the medieval period fairly intensely for the last 4 years of my life, and I like to think that it is not as terrible as all that, but I know that the medieval period was a religious age, and Roman Catholicism was king. Religious thought and devotion can be dangerous, as we all know too well these days. And isolationist propaganda makes it all the more difficult to see out into the world and that it’s not all that bad.
It amazes me when extremist ideas like that can thrive in an age when information and media are our royalty and things seem increasingly secular in lots of places around the world. I remember seeing members of the Ku Klux Klan on Jerry Springer one day when I stayed home sick from school, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It occurred to me that our world is not that much different from any other previous incarnation, it’s just smaller.