chapter  7
Friend or foe?
Grand Masters’ responses to the Ku Klux Klan
ByMiguel Hernandez
Pages 25

Through a comparative analysis of the different responses of Masonic officials from New York, Texas, Indiana, Florida, and other parts of the country to the intrusions of the Ku Klux Klan, this chapter examines how individual Americans perceived this rival fraternity. While there were plenty of instances of vigilantism, corruption and violence perpetrated by members of the Second Invisible Empire in the 1920s, this chapter evaluates why some Americans rejected such clear evidence of the order’s crimes. Also discussed is how the Klan’s characterization in the media and rhetoric of the period was rejected by many and why some white Protestant Americans suspected these accounts to have been fabricated by newspapers that were “controlled” by Jewish, Catholic or African-American interests. In addition, we will study how the Klan was often aided by such negative characterizations in the press that enabled it to recruit new members by allowing them to reinforce their victimization narrative and advance their interests.