Are the Ku Klux Klan racist? According to the Klan, they are not. They just have reasonable concerns about white people’s rights. As they put it in their flyers:
“Why can’t pro-white rights organizations exist without being labeled racist?”
As the Anti-Defamation League explains, the flyers are part of a strategy to “normalise white supremacy”: members no longer wear their robes and hoods and they dissociate themselves from violence. They claim that the fact that their followers are viciously racist is just a coincidence and nothing to do with them. “Members want to be able to express their white pride without being branded white supremacists – members prefer the term white separatists.” They argue that the rights of “other races” negatively affect theirs.
What the KKK is trying to do is to rebrand itself, and part of that is to attempt to redefine what racism means. In their definition, racism basically comes down to lynchings and burning crosses: if you’re not actively doing them, you can’t be a racist organisation.
That, of course, is bullshit. And it’s why we don’t let white racists define what racism is or isn’t, because their definition excludes pretty much all forms of racism. Hate groups don’t get to define what is and isn’t hatred.
Let’s go back to that statement from the KKK flyer and change two words.
“Why can’t pro-women’s rights organizations exist without being labeled transphobic?”
All the anti-trans hate groups claim that they aren’t transphobic. And that’s true, if your definition of transphobia excludes almost every form of transphobia, including your own past actions.
In many cases, the high-profile anti-trans groups were co-founded by viciously transphobic people. Some now claim that their previously abusive anti-trans social media was run by the previous administration, with whom they now have no connection. Others pretend that their founding meetings featuring people calling trans women “parasites” and “bastards” who deserved violence and mocking trans women’s appearances never happened. And others’ bigoted founders – people who publicly called trans women “sick fucks” and claimed Jewish conspiracies – have conveniently died. They no longer wear their robes and hoods and they dissociate themselves from violence. The fact that many of their followers are abusive on social media is just a coincidence and nothing to do with them.
The one thing that really annoys hate groups is when people rightly call them hate groups. And as the UnCommon Sense blog explains in detail, many of these groups clearly function as hate groups.
A hate group is:
“…an organisation that – based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities – has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”
As Buzzfeed’s Patrick Strudwick put it, these groups are telling us:
We’re not transphobic, we just think you’re a danger to children, women, society, lesbians, gay men, feminism, yourselves, and should be excluded from everywhere we decide you shouldn’t be, and should be denied treatment, demonised, pathologised, ridiculed and debated endlessly.
What’s hateful about that, apart from all of it?