Sunday, November 4, 2007

Learn something new every day

Found at UFO Breakfast Recipients:
“The Klan's resurgence in the 1920s partially stemmed from their role as the extreme militant wing of the temperance movement. In Arkansas, as elsewhere, the newly formed Ku Klux Klan marked bootleggers as one of the groups that needed to be purged from a morally upright community. In 1922, 200 Klansmen torched saloons that had sprung up in Union County in the wake of the oil discovery boom. The national Klan office ended up in Dallas, Texas, but Little Rock was the home of the Women of the Ku Klux Klan. The first head of this female auxiliary was a former president of the Arkansas WCTU.”
The WCTU refers to the Women's Christian Temperance Union - which apparently still exists today, and is every bit as authoritarian. Name a right-wing issue, and you can find a WCTU chapter that advocates it. At the link from which the above paragraph originates, we can find additional nuggets, such as this one:
The rapid growth of the new Klan probably reflected the fact that “It promised to reform politics, to enforce prohibition, and to champion traditional morality.”
And this one:
Prohibitionists often advocated strong measures against those who did not comply with Prohibition. One suggested that the government distribute poisoned alcohol beverages through bootleggers (sellers of illegal alcohol) and acknowledged that several hundred thousand Americans would die as a result, but thought the cost well worth the enforcement of Prohibition.
The rest is worth checking out as well. In some respects this bit of info didn't really surprise me. Just going back to my late teens and early adulthood, I encountered the punk equivalent of a "temperance" crowd. They tended to call themselves "straight-edge". One thing that quickly struck me was that outside of an isolated individual or two, straight-edgers seemed to have an amazing lack of tolerance for all manner of behaviors and ways of life, from alcohol and drug use, to the consumption of meat, to homosexuality, and (given the generally white, middle-class suburban male dominance of the straight-edge movement) members of other races. Some made their intentions readily known - the O.C.-area band Vegan Reich comes to mind. Others tried for a bit more subtlety. Really, that bunch were a living example of how intolerances of one sort or another tended to strongly correlate - in other words, blue noses and bigotry seem to go together, and do so across subcultures.

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