Current Affairs Politics

The KKK, The DUP, And The Trumpian Toxicity Of Brexit

Not everyone who votes for the DUP dresses up in KKK clothing and poses with clenched fists outside an Islamic Prayer Centre. But everyone who dresses up in KKK clothing and poses with clenched fists outside an Islamic Prayer Centre probably votes for the DUP. That is the main thing to bear in mind following the weekend appearance of men garbed as members of the Ku Klux Klan, the pariah white-nationalist organisation in the United States, in the town of Newtownards, an electoral stronghold of the hard-right Democratic Unionist Party. The incident, where the group was denied drinks in a local bar before posting pictures of themselves on social media, has been condemned across the political spectrum. This includes strong words of outrage from the local DUP MLA, Peter Weir (who of course terminated Irish education funding while serving as a regional minister in the now collapsed peace-brokered executive at Stormont). However, given the preponderance of Confederate flags and symbols in “loyalist” areas, and the “migrant-cleansing” of some unionist communities in recent years, pro-union representatives need to be doing more than just issuing homilies to their constituents.

The actions of the Democratic Unionists before and after the divisive 2016 referendum on Brexit in the United Kingdom have contributed to a renewed outpouring of racist and sectarian sentiment in the UK-administered north-east of Ireland. Reports of hate crimes have increased across the contested region, as the local British terror gangs have latched on to new tactics for expanding and deepening their influence and control. The DUP and other unionist leaders can no more wash their hands of the culture they have fostered than can Donald Trump in the United States, given the recent outrages there.

Sharon Mellor, a prominent associate of far-right and neo-nazi groups in the UK, poses with one of the KKK figures
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21 comments on “The KKK, The DUP, And The Trumpian Toxicity Of Brexit

  1. Except that Klan are no longer pariahs. Long anti Papist they now have a Kleagle to cover border counties (north and south, boy, y’hear?) Plus Garda Siochana/Geisha Saynoara are warned to stay away, as times change so do allies.

    • You mean in the UK or Northern Ireland?

      I can tell you that almost everyone in the US who isn’t a member is absolutely terrified of The KKK-not just black people like some folks in Europe think.

      • I understand where you are coming from but we have an old saying here “My enemy’s enemy is my friend”.

        • I suspect everywhere has some version of that saying.

          How much do you suppose they know about what they are invoking, Ciaran? What and how much, exactly gets taught in British schools about these things?

          *****Not to be critical, in US schools anything about Irish history tends to be just a “nickel tour”. Just raising the question of whether or not these folks understand what it means when they dress up as KKK.

          Do you think they realize how the Ku Klux Klan actually used to kill people? Or do they think it’s just like the lynchings they saw in some Spaghetti Western only with different costumes perhaps? Would they really want to see a true gruesome KKK style execution in their community where men, women, and even young children are forced to watch, or else end up next in line?

          • Agree completely Grace, there’s an astounding lack of knowledge about the KKK and what it means. And the last lynching was in the late 1960s. Things mapped from one place to another can be tricky – confederate flags are huge in the rocking and motorbike scenes but in a sort of cack-handed way where the meaning often isn’t quite grasped or is seen as uncomplex symbols of rebellion. People with them on their clothes or bikes aren’t (generally) racist, but it’s problematic (or to take a closer example, those Iron Maiden fans with Eddie union flag badges and patches etc aren’t all loyalists or unionists, probably in England next to none, but it can look a bit much – as well as which IIRC Dickinson is pro-Brexit (natch) and I never liked them!).

            • The whole Confederate Flag thing is ridiculous enough. Obviously any Ulsterman who flies a Confederate flag, doesn’t understand The United States half as well as he thinks.

              I will grant that a lot of the symbols and marches done by the Orange Order, DOES resemble a lot of this “Confederate” crap with the flag and all the monuments.

              But invoking the KKK-that’s something much more horrific.

              And when some people in the US, simply wanted to push for a Peace Process they always said “The Yanks” were so incapable of understanding any history outside our own.

            • Despite the political stuff around Confederate things, Americans have a long tradition as seeing The Civil War as one of the saddest periods in our history, and the end of slavery was sort of the saving grace if you will.

          • Graphic photo of lynching in Texas 1915.

            • Is that in the curriculum in either The Irish Republic, NI, and/or Britain in general?

              • Curriculum is lousy. Actual quote 1973 “We will bet the Irishness out of them” Indeed, they also beat the Catholicism out of us;)

              • So I take it you went to school in Northern Ireland? That absolutely sucks.

  2. The Klan has roots in the Freemasons – as has the Orange Order. Michael McDowell has suggested that the Orange Order should be allowed to march in Dublin – and come the 12th of July the Irish media can be relied upon to wet themselves in their gushing enthusiasm for the “colour and excitement” of Orange crypto-Masonic parades. This in spite of the fact that bands from loyalist terrorist groups such as the UVF and the UDA take a prominent role in these shows of Masonic muscle. Needless to say you won’t hear any mention of William McGrath, John McKeague, or Kincora boys home when the Orange Order is discussed in the Irish media.

  3. The best analysis I’ve read on the connections between a racist construction of Britishness / Englishness and Brexit was this was this one from Satnam Virdee and Brendan McGeever in the the journal Ethnic and Racial Studies entitled “Racism, Crisis, Brexit”.

    From the abstract of the paper:

    Brexit and its aftermath have been overdetermined by racism, including racist violence. We suggest that the Leave campaign secured its victory by bringing together two contradictory but inter-locking visions. The first comprises an imperial longing to restore Britain’s place in the world as primus inter pares that occludes any coming to terms with the corrosive legacies of colonial conquest and racist subjugation. The second takes the form of an insular, Powellite narrative of island retreat from a “globalizing” world, one that is no longer recognizably “British”.

    Open access, well worth a read.

    • That’s a very interesting analysis of the whole thing GW. But one questions this raises. This article suggest there is both a fantasy of getting “The Empire” back, AND a desire for a very insular “Little England”.

      Would this be a case of different factions of English people within the Brexit coalition having fundamentally different desires and visions of what they want? Or are some of these Brexiteers truly holding two extremely contradictory sets of ideals in their heads, as the article seems to suggest.

      As for getting back The British Empire, what are they going to do? Reconquer India?

      As for having a “Little England”, that would be such an extreme 180 degree U-turn from what they’ve *had* for many centuries. My suspicion is that some of those who really want a “Little England” aren’t basing that wish on realistic expectations.

      George Monbiot wrote an article somewhere-I can’t find the link-where he basically says that for centuries Britain sort of “outsourced” its problems, and through Empire and other things managed to create a set-up, where reform to their government has been put off for centuries, and now with Brexit they are like 400 years behind the eight ball.

      But my impression of British people is that many of them (including some smart educated people) don’t appear all that used to taking or thinking about political change or reform in a coherent manner.

  4. One wise teacher I had in high school said it was useful to think of the KKK in “layers” if you wanted to understand what it was truly about. Of course, there were/are many grey areas between the four main layers, but here’s a way to think about it:

    1) At one level the KKK was like a mafia. And not these cutesy Hollywood versions. But like in some parts of Italy, whole communities had a horrific time reigning in their violence and tyranny. And for anyone, if you cross the mafia-even at the most ridiculous imagined slight-you paid. Often the local KKK were great defenders of the kind of people that I believe were called “Gombeen men” in Ireland, as well as “local big dog”, bosses who paid workers less than minimum wage, and more. But really, Italian communities that really really struggled with The Mafia are one place to look if you want to understand it as more than a bunch of rednecks chasing black people in the piney woods.

    2) At another layer, the KKK was a hate group. Their exact (almost always longer than most people in Europe seem to realize) shit list varied quite a bit at different times and places, but we all know who the “Big Favorite” almost invariably was. And yes, given the nature of this website Catholics and/or immigrants were almost always “on the menu”.

    3) Then there was the layer where it was about a full blown reign of terror primarily against African Americans. In many ways this part was the most unique to the US, but in some ways it was a lot like some of the “Black Rider” or “Tsar’s Oprichniki” at some time’s in Tsarist Russia where the goal was about terrorizing whole popuations

    4) They were also at various times political paramilitaries of the kind that would be all too familiar in Northern Ireland.

    And really the ability of the KKK to be any combination or even all of those things at once, is the true horror of that organization.

    • ar an sliabh

      From what I know, that is a very accurate description of that organisation. Often, the common “red neck” perception disguises the complexity and sophistication of this very dangerous outfit. Spot on.

  5. The Democratic Party has been inextricably linked to the KKK. Of course the conspiracy theorists say they all left and moved to the Republican Party when they didn’t get their own way! Just saying. P.s Hillary found time for mister Robert Byrd.

    • The KKK was like a mafia Wolfe Tone. Anywhere in The South, they had such entrenched power that anyone who went against them risked a horrible death (regardless of color). They found ways to insinuate themselves into both political parties.

      But here’s the thing, a two party country tends to have a strange situation. Historically outside The South, Democrats were generally the party of farmers and labor, while Republicans were the party of industrialists, businessmen, merchants, high military officers, and professionals. Both had their liberal and conservative wings in their own ways.

      But white Southerners as a whole have a long history of very low tolerance for dissent among their own, so usually they glom onto either party despite not having too much in common with the Democrats or Republicans outside their regions. African Americans tend to flock to the other party, of course. For a long time the Democrats had the Solid South because The GOP was the hated “Party of Lincoln”. It flipped when LBJ a Democrat signed the Civil Rights act.

      As for Robert Byrd, he had recanted his KKK involvement decades ago, and was one of the few in Congress to oppose the Iraq War categorically.

      • Like all societies/brotherhoods etc the members made a point of infiltrating govts and public bodies etc in order to enact their beliefs and policies. Is it a stretch to believe the KKK did not have the foresight to go ‘under the radar’ as well? Byrd took a long time to renounce his KKK activities I.e he was no naive teenager; he was well into adulthood and he was still running with the KKK. Was he horrified to learn Bill Clinton as president criminalised more black people with his new crime laws? Just saying. Btw, I suppose Hillarys recent ‘joke’, referring to two black guys as ‘they all look the same’ was missed by the media?……..missed by this site too it seems!

  6. Graham Ennis

    So of course, the highly principled and ethical young women who is secretary of state for Northern Ireland, and de-facto direct ruler of the territory, absent a functioning assembly, will, of course, use her legal powers to prescribe the KKK as an illegal paramilitary organisation, won’t she?…..(loud and extended farting noises arising from the Nationalist Community there.). This is not a joke. The clock is now ticking in the North.

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