chapter  3
Kluxing America
The use and abuse of the Masonic reputation
ByMiguel Hernandez
Pages 23

This chapter reviews the evidence of several newspapers and publications to understand how and why the Second Invisible Empire was able to convince many Americans their order was respectable and constructive, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. As the Ku Klux Klan began expanding in 1921, many politicians, civic leaders and journalists began to warn of the danger this white supremacist group posed to law and order and to the nation’s democratic institutions. To ease the effects of this criticism and continue recruiting new members, the Klan’s Propagation Department focused on counteracting these charges with a sustained media campaign. The Klan tried to shield their organization from criticism by emphasizing or exaggerating their connection to Freemasonry, a highly respected middle-class fraternity with an established heritage in American society. In addition, this chapter analyses how and why Klansmen challenged those Masonic leaders and publications who opposed their movement, and how the order attempted to control their public image by establishing they were a superior form of fraternalism.