Nolan Hamilton, author of Gawker article, holding battle flag.
In a feature article for Gawker called My Kasual Kounrty Weekend with the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, writer Hamilton Nolan unfolds the weekend he spent attending an event called 2012 Faith and Freedom Conference.
It was at the KKK’s modest headquarters outside Harrison, AK.
Just two or three paragraphs into the article and “revulsion” is a good moniker for what you feel about this meetup.
Sickness at the pit of your stomach is another.
But it’s not so much toward the leader of the Knights, this Pastor Rob Thomas whom I suggested you have a lot in common with. It’s toward everyone he voluntarily surrounds himself with that makes you want to vomit.
See, Pastor Rob, who took the organization over after David Duke left in the 80s, is not only a svelte dresser and soft-spoken speaker, but a man you might not mind calling grandfather.
Think of “Pat Robertson mixed with Wilford Brimley” who loves the white race.
In fact, he likes his race so much he would rather just spend all of his time with them. And no one else. In a way, he’s not any more racist than Al Sharpton, a claim Pastor Rob makes him self.
His position, however, as Nolan points out, is NOT shared by the Knights.
His own daughter, Rachel Pendergraft, is a blonde white supremacist fireball who wrapped up her speech with a fierce “White Power!” To boot, she used the word “nigger” mercilessly and even praised Hitler.
One speaker ended his speech by passing around Arizona Ice Tea and Skittles to commemorate the death of Trayvon Martin.
That’s all pretty mild compared to Paul Fromm.
The Most Extreme White Supremacist You’ll Ever Meet
According to Nolan, Fromm looked the part of frazzled professor. But don’t let the country drawl, Canadian accent or professor get-up fool you.
He was the extremist of the extreme. He elevated the hate rhetoric like no one else.
He is staunch anti-immigration crusader, believer that all black men are thugs, all black women are prostitutes and blacks in general are less intelligent than whites.
And here’s the kicker. Nolan writes:
…these people genuinely consider themselves good Christians—devout, even, willing to sacrifice earthly economic and social status in order to live a life that they consider to be righteous.
Something strange is a foot.
Credit to Nolan, a non-Christian, who plainly saw that there had to be abuses of biblical texts to justify their positions. He couldn’t tell you which ones, but he knew enough to call their bluff.
Why the Moral Outrage?
What’s interesting about Nolan is his sense of morality. He clearly calls the Klan out, but on what grounds? And who gets to make those grounds?
I don’t dispute his claims.
But I’m certain where our sense of morality originates is not the same. I believe in a sense of absolute truth and morality. Does he?
Throughout the article Nolan rides his high horse. Like he knows the truth. He clearly sees the elephant for what it is while the blind Klansmen are way off the mark. So does that mean he believes in an objective sense of truth?
Of course I read the piece on my high horse. And I’m sure as many–if not all–readers would.
It seems easy to see the stupidity behind such a movement. It seems easy to cast a finger at a Paul Fromm or Rachel Pendergraft or Pastor Rob Thomas. And it’s easy to dismiss them “as a bunch of sorely misguided and ignorant unfortunates who’ve been too sheltered with their own kind to know any better.”
But that’s the particular trap of self-righteousness.
It’s the age-old “at least I’m not as bad as blank.” In this case “blank” equals a Klansmen.
And as long as we level our eyes at other men and women–as long as truth is a sliding scale–we look pretty darn good.
The Truth of Jesus Christ
When we look at an objective truth like Jesus Christ, on the other hand, we see a sinless man. The holy God.
He obeyed all laws, a work that culminated in his death on the cross.
A death that accomplished something you and I could never do on our own: justification before the throne of God.
Me, you, Hamilton Nolan…Pastor Rob Thomas. We all stand condemned before God.
We all share this in common. We all deserve punishment…if not for the Messiah.
But if truth is some relative code we manipulate to suit our needs, then none of us can raise a finger at the Klan. Their version of truth deserves just as much room in the public square as Nolan’s, mine and yours. And without ridicule. No matter how extreme the belief.
And that’s scary.
Share your thoughts. Brutal and all.