A sober, disturbing history of the "Invisible Empire"...
Commander Adama | USA | 02/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To answer the reviewer's question below, I am a US History teacher who has used this video numerous times in my classroom. The video presents an objective (at least as objective as one can be about what is essentially a terrorist organization) look at what one history professor who is interviewed calls an "American-born terrorist group". Created by the History Channel, this video covers the history of the Klan from its beginnings in the post-Civil War, Reconstruction-Era South to modern-day variations such as David Duke and the Skinheads. In a sense the video is also a history of the civil rights movement in America, as it is during periods of activism for equal rights that the Klan has been the most active - and deadly - hate group in American history. The video argues that during its history the Klan has not been a stable or consistent organization. Instead, it goes through cycles - it rises up to oppose minority rights and promote "White Supremacy", then nearly dies out, then rises yet again out of its own ashes to oppose minority rights activists in another historical era. The Klan's first period of power was in the post-Civil War South, when whites felt threatened by the newly freed slaves and used the Klan to try and thwart their newly-won civil rights, with considerable success. The organization then died away until 1915, when it was reborn at Stone Mountain, Georgia. In the 1920's it spread across the USA, with "klaverns" in all 48 states and some 4-5 million members. It opposed not only blacks, but Jews, Catholics, and all "foreigners". They staged a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, and controlled the state government in Indiana. But the Klan self-destructed in a series of scandals, ranging from the brutal rape-murder of a white woman in Indiana, bribery and blackmail of politicians, and the embezzling of funds by the Klan leadership. By the thirties the Klan was again virtually extinct, yet it rose again in the fifties and sixties to oppose the civil rights movement with bombings, lynchings, assassinations of civil rights workers and leaders, and other acts of violence. However, the FBI and other federal law-enforcement agencies, backed by President Lyndon Johnson, went after the most dangerous Klan groups by bribing its members to turn in those who had committed crimes against civil rights workers and leaders, and using the IRS to destroy the Klan financially. In the 1970's the Klan tried to change its image by using men such as David Duke in Lousiana to promote the view of the "Klan next door" as Julian Bond, a prominent civil rights leader, calls him. Yet Duke is shown to be just as dangerous as previous, less-polished Klan leaders.
This video is not for the faint of heart - at its beginning and end the documentary shows a modern-day Klan rally in North Carolina, and the "n" word and other racial epithets are spoken frequently. Yet my students (black, white, and Hispanic) have learned a great deal from this video about the nature of hate groups and racism in America - and I believe they'll be better-prepared to resist such groups in their own lives. If you want a factual yet deeply disturbing "inside" look at America's most famous native-born terrorist group, then this video is the best you can buy."
Not all parts of history are pretty!
Commander Adama | 07/01/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the most indepth history of the KKK from the beginning in a small town in 1865 in Pulaski, Tennessee, and up to the late 1990's. Much of the history is schocking, and how brutal and vicious the KKK was towards blacks, gays, homosexuals, other non-whites, and basically anyone not a "White Protestant" will be hard to watch at times. Understand this isn't a nice, family viewing. There are some very graphic stories in here. But, this is a good lesson to show what bigotry and intolerance begets."
The Secret is Finally Revealed
Namon Webster Anderson | Nashville, Tennessee | 03/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This well respected and authentic depiction of this documentary should receive the upmost praises. Finally the History Channel brings to viewers how this demonic secretive fraternal society of hate and fear(Ku Klux Klan)was originated and is still presently preserved. I fully endorse any educator to show this video as a real portraiture of American History."
Great Documentary on the Terrible Hate Group
Hype Currie | Detroit, Michigan United States | 11/19/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"---an excellent historical account on the history of the ku klux klan, america's most enduring 'hate' group, and effectively the longest lasting 'terrorist' outfit..
The documentary traces the groups roots to the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, when the resentful, reactionary elements of various white communities saw fit to end any notion of political and economic equality for blacks newly freed in by the Emancipation proclamation. Virtually nothing was beneath them in terms of how far they were willing to go to achieve their goals: vandalism, arson, theft, kidnapping, assaults, and most of all, murder.
The core Klan membership at its initial onset was quasi-Pagan/quasi-Masonic in its philosophies (i.e., the Skulls & Bones fraternity), but that eventually evolved by the turn of the 20th century to using fundamentalist evangelical Christianity as a recruitment tactic, targeting anyone from a WASP background as a potential member, while also now incorporating Jews and Catholics on their list of enemies (early 20th century immigration by Irish, Italian, Poles, and Eastern Europeans contributed to reactionary fears among the "established" white Americans).
Marketed as a men's social club no different than the Elks, Masons, or other groups, the Klan had widespread national membership by the first few decades of the 20th century. By the early 1920's, avowed members had achieved real political power in the State of Indiana-- the governor and most of state board of legislature were members of the Klan. A heinous murder and rape of a politician's mistress caused a scandal that sent shockwaves throughout the organization; dossiers on documented bribes & blackmails were revealed, and national board members were internally charged with financial impropriety.
This led to a splintering of the Klan into regional factions that has virtually continued until the present day.
Still existing to varying degrees in the contiguous USA, the most prominent factions emerged from the American South as the American Civil Rights Movement got momentum in the 1950's. white attacks against blacks became even more brazen than before, only during the televised confrontations this was perhaps the first time it was visually documented in any form.
existing Footage is seen of klan leaders and other segregationists; US historians are interviewed as are historical and contemporary civil rights activists.
As the documentary reveals, from the dawn of the Reagan administration, the Klan morphed its image yet again; self-identified KKK members are (at least officially) barely a few thousand in number; however, their philosophical ken now largely exist in the ranks of the far-right "Patriot" militia movements and the youth-heavy white-supremacist 'Skinhead' culture.
The documentary could have benefited from more interview footage from the persons involved; and little attention is given to the post-Klan movements like the militias/skinheads, etc. Still, this is an effective work."
Scott Axford | Clearwater, Florida United States | 08/01/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Package arrived in two days! Very nice. Content of DVD was factual, only slighly biased and very informative for races, creeds and religions."