I grew up in the south and have had several opportunity to witness a klan rally. The first two times was when I was a kid. Sometime back in the mid, maybe later 70’s, I think? Me and my friend had seen the posters, knew where the place was so we snuck into the woods earlier in the day with all our vintage military gear, then watched the whole thing from beginning to cross burning end posted up in an old civil war earthwork on the hillside. Couldn’t believe they didn’t have someone up there for security. That might seem weird thinking for a kid, remember I grew up outside a military base, my mentors were combat veterans and police officers, medics who also had combat experience. Nearly all my dads friends were active duty or retired. My family had military contracts. Get it?
It was crazy and totally terrifying to be there hidden in the woods. We were very concerned for our safety if we were caught. As the people arrived it was clear they were heavily armed. I had thought about bringing my rifle but didn’t because we had to cross a couple busy city streets and neighborhoods to get there, the only way in was by foot for us. A pistol was out because I was a kid and didn’t own one, they belonged to my dad and would need his permission. Not an option if I was going stealth into the woods to spectate on a klan rally. So there we were unarmed.
No matter what I would have brought with me I would have been out gunned by any one or two of the guys who had shown up. We were able to see into a few of their trunks and they were full of guns, it was cool and insane all at once. Thank goodness for binoculars. My friend was a wise choice. He knew how to keep his mouth shut and creep quiet through the woods full of dry leaves and twigs. Try it sometime you’ll see just how hard it can be.
The next time I witnessed part of a rally was several years later when I was on a 10-27 (structure fire) call with the rescue squad. On our way to the fire at first we thought the glow from a rally burning three crosses was the fire but we soon found out it was the wrong place when the armed guards informed us everything there was under control, wrong address. They were right the burning house was a couple of miles away down the same road.
Similar circumstances several years later when I was responding to a call for cardiac arrest in the deep boonies we rolled by a large gathering with a huge burning cross. It was just off the side of the road in a big cornfield. At first in the distance it looked like someone burning a brush pile until we rolled right up on top of the whole thing.
Within a year or two of that we’d dropped of a patient at a hospital and were returning to station when we spotted a red glow in the hills that looked for sure like a house fire. We went to investigate expecting the place to be fully involved by the time we got there. Nope not a house fire just a klan rally. Nuts! I left the area a year or two after that and never saw any klan thing since.
I have seen some blatant racism over the years. Amazing to watch. I’m not just talking about white on black either but that isn’t the topic and most of this is a sidetracked tangent recollection of the past. It was totally inspired by a video clip I’d seen in the last few minutes at the end of a video I’d been watching on YouTube. Featuring a real interview with Johnny Lee Clary on Enough Rope with Andrew Denton. The way it is shown in the video makes it impossible to distinguish that it is a real interview. When I saw it I thought it was a comedy piece put together to make fun of racist. I really thought that.
I thought it was so funny that I wanted to share it. The laugh was on me when I found out the guy was for real and there was much more to the story than just the 4:00 minutes shown. If things could work out for real like that all racist encounters would be so funny and provide what can only be called instant karma. This made me laugh, still does. I love stories like this. What a long lead into this video but it inspired those memories so thought I’d put this on my blog since that’s why I started it. -13
Here is the cut without having to look for it at the end of the other video below.
Johnny Lee Clary on Enough Rope with Andrew Denton
The video I had been watching.