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KKK says it doesn't hate, it has joke page

The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan will meet this weekend in the Westmoreland County community of Export.

Yes, that date at the top of this page is correct.

The gathering is being billed as a "meet-and-greet" opportunity. Of course, like anyone curious about the kind of person who attends a Klan rally, I marked my calendar for Saturday at 3 p.m. No location is listed, but you'd think you'd be able to spot them anyway while driving around out there.

To gain access, though, you have to fill out an application to become a member. Turns out the group is very selective.

Being a black woman married to a white man is probably going to keep me out. Still, the Klan doesn't accept just any white person off the street. You have to be of sound mind. (No medical opinion necessary for that one.) You also must believe in white separatism. I am all for that -- when my husband gets on my nerves.

The Klan requires all its members be Christian. Perhaps that's because it takes a strong, unwavering faith to burn a cross in someone's yard. You probably know the burning cross as a symbol of hate or an intimidating gesture, but they clear that up on their website: It's merely a symbol that Christ is the light of the world.

Talk about a misunderstanding! The 1960s could have gone a lot differently if everyone had known that, right?

The website's chat room is guarded with a warning for blacks, Hispanics and Jews to stay out -- except that the language is a bit more colorful (no pun intended).

The KKK offers a simple explanation online about why it's not a hate group. "We do not hate any group of people. However, we do hate some things that certain groups are doing to our race and Nation. But rather than focus on hate, we try to focus on the love of our race."

So the jokes in the "Racist Jokes and Pictures" section are all in the spirit of love and good humor. Like the one about the black Barbie doll that comes with AIDS, 12 children and a welfare check. Ha.

I asked Chris Barker, the Imperial Wizard of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, about the contradictions. Barker of Eden, N.C., said the salty website language is stereotypical and not any different from that used by everyone else. The website sprinkles the N-word around like most people use salt.

"Black people use that word," he said. "They've been asked to be called that, like African American, black or colored."

Riiiight. I usually ask people to call me Nafari.

What about the KKK's poor reputation of the 1960s?

"You had to live in that time to understand that time," Barker, who grew up then in close proximity to Klan leadership, told me. He said much of the group's violence stemmed from what they considered forced integration.

Well, that certainly justifies kidnapping and murdering people.

Barker said a lot of Klan members distance themselves from those actions and have no hard feelings for people of other races. They just want to be separate.

"There's still a lot of good the Klan can do for America," he said.

I can think of one good thing they can do, but those pointy hats probably can't fit there.

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