Do we really have to remind people that the KKK wasn’t “progressive”?

In the latest round of “actually, you’re the real racist,” former Reagan staffer Jeffrey Lord went on CNN last night to whitesplain the Ku Klux Klan to Van Jones.

It didn’t go so well.

Defending Donald Trump’s initial refusal to reject David Duke’s endorsement, Lord insisted that the KKK is still, as it was in the early 1900s, associated with the Democratic Party and, therefore, “the progressive agenda.” He also compared the KKK to Reverend Jeremiah Wright, because criticism of America’s racial and foreign policy history is the actual same thing as racialized domestic terrorism, apparently.

Van Jones had to whisper yell to keep himself composed. I don’t blame him.

Check out the video, via CNN:

We’re in for seven more months of this kind of nonsense, as it is looking increasingly clear that Donald Trump is going to wind up as the Republican nominee. White nationalists are going to keep on loving him, which means that cable news shows are going to keep inviting hacks on to apologize for him. This won’t be the last time a white guy tells a black man on national television that he’s actually more of a racist than the guy currying favor with the Klan.

Van Jones and Jeffrey Lord, screenshot via YouTube

Van Jones and Jeffrey Lord, screenshot via YouTube

But it also was far from the first time, too. Lord’s misdirection on the KKK is familiar territory for professional conservatives. It’s common practice for Republican politicians, and even some reporters, who are embarrassed to admit that the group synonymous with white nationalism is on their side of the fence now to do the “No, you take them” routine and remind their audiences that, actually, the KKK belongs to present-day Democrats. Democrats who just so happen to win over 90 percent of the black vote every year.

I wonder why.

Lord, et al squares this circle by insisting that the Democrats are the real racists in the spirit of the KKK because they “divide people by race.” This would be the same Democratic Party that is the only one of the two major political parties to have a racially diverse membership. There’s a reason why participation in the Republican primaries has been almost exclusively white, and a lot of it has to do with the fact that Republican candidates have been saying things that, for decades, have attracted the votes of people who happen to be members of the KKK.

When the Klan was founded, they found a home in the Democratic Party, which at the time was the party that shared their values. But that stopped being true over a half century ago, and Jeffrey Lord knows it. We shouldn’t have to reargue this every time a Republican gets endorsed by a Klan member, or the Klan itself.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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  • blueeyedcuban

    The KKK was all about single payer healthcare, graduated income tax, free college education, Social security, and oh yeah, lynchin’ your blah people.

  • AntHewy

    Funny how people forget this though:

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  • sophie

    CNN lost credibility some time ago, and they have essentially devolved into FUX-Lite. The only news I can tolerate is Democracy Now with Amy Goodman, etc., and some of Rachel Maddow’s excellent reporting. There isn’t much factual news left on the teevee, as the majority are right-wing owned propaganda outlets-which is one major reason Trump has claimed the corporate$$ news media for his own personal love-fest.

  • I expect unreconstructed bigots and racist partisan shills like Jeffrey Lord on Fox News. But on CNN?

  • They also weren’t just in the South. That’s a big lie and people need to be called out for saying it. They were all over the country. They were more active (per capita) in Indiana and Ohio than they ever were in Mississippi and in some states (esp Indiana) they took over the Republican party just like they did the Democratic party in the southern states. It was widespread especially in rural areas. The first epic film was Birth of a Nation about the founding of the Klan. We have swept all that history under the rug because it’s embarrassing for white people to admit just how common overt displays of racism really were. But that’s how it was and pretending otherwise allows nonsense like what you see above.

  • Baal

    The idea that CNN thinks that trolling of that low quality should be seen on TV is appalling. I know this guy is desperate but this is imbecilic.

    David Duke, incidentally, ran as a Republican.

  • The_Fixer

    What would one expect from a former Reagan staffer? The administration that interfered with U.S. foreign policy even before they took office, armed the Contras, invaded Grenada to build nationalism, brought us “trickle-down economics” and had more bad actors in it than a community theater has infected American political discourse for more than 30 years. It is well past time for this to stop.

    Van Jones was far more charitable than I would ever have been. In fact, if I had been there, the screen would have gone blank at some point, because this guy would have gotten a load of verbiage that would not have been acceptable for television. Lord’s misdirection, redirection and bullshit would have been called out for what it is – apologetics for racists.

    I would not feel the least bit sorry for calling him out in the most vulgar terms. CNN, in it’s race to be competitive with Fox’s propaganda channel, deserves to be put on the spot, scrambling for the “kill switch” when they invite discredited propagandists from a failed and damaging past administration on the air.

  • marknc

    And they call Hillary a liar. By comparison she is a saint.

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