As the country’s the oldest hate group, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) is infamous for its discrimination against black Americans, as well as Jews, immigrants, and gays and lesbians. But what if a chapter of the KKK operated as just a fraternal organization that didn’t discriminate on the basis of race, religion, or sexual orientation? That’s what one of Montana’s most well-known white supremacists wants to find out.
John Abarr claims that his views are changing, and he has started a new KKK group called the Rocky Mountain Knights, which apparently has robust nondiscrimination protections. He told WMAZ, “White supremacy is the old Klan. This is the new Klan.” This is the same Abarr who in 2011 ran for Congress “to draw attention to the fact that white people are becoming a minority and losing our political power and way of life.”
He met with members of the Casper, Wyoming NAACP and was motivated to organize a peace summit between the KKK and NAACP, as well as with other religious groups sometime next summer. Abarr described the NAACP as “a really good organization,” suggesting, “I don’t feel we need to be separate.” Last week, he tweeted, “#notallklansmen,” a hashtag based on the meme “#NotAllMen,” which became popular on Twitter earlier this year to symbolize “mansplaining” rebukes to feminist arguments.
Abarr is still committed to his KKK being a conservative organization, though. It will still fight against a “new world order” or a one-world government, and members will still be required to wear the robes and hoods and participate in secret rituals.
But the United Klans of America are not happy with the new leaf Abarr seems to be turning. Imperial Wizard Bradley Jenkins described him as “going against everything the bylaws of the constitution of the KKK say,” alleging that Abarr is “trying to hide behind the KKK to further his political career.”
Human rights groups are skeptical. Rachel Carroll-Rivas of the Montana Human Rights Network suggested the Rocky Mountain Knights were a “farce,” adding, “If John Abarr were actually reformed, he could drop the label of the KKK.” Jimmy Simmons, one of the NAACP representatives who met with Abarr last year, said that he was open to hearing more for him, but explained, “The use of the letters KKK instills fear in people.”
Abarr refused to say how many members his new group has so far, but anyone in the Pacific Northwest who’s 18 years old can join.