We've been misunderstood.
Some modern-day Ku Klux Klan say the group shouldn't be judged by terrorist acts like the April 13 rampage at two Jewish institutions in suburban Kansas City, Kan., allegedly committed by a 73-year-old white supremacist. Three people were shot dead - a teenage boy and his grandfather along with a woman who worked with visually impaired children. And in a sad irony, none of the victims were Jewish. All were Christian.
The carnage upset KKK Imperial Wizard Frank Ancona, CNN reports.
'What this guy just did set back everything I've been trying to do for years,' said Ancona, who leads the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
CNN tracked Ancona down on Twitter, where he has 840 followers, after he and other self-professed hate group leaders denounced the shootings in interviews with USA Today and CNN affiliate WDAF in Kansas City, Missouri.
'I believe in racial separation but it doesn't have to be violent,' he told CNN. 'People in the Klan are professional people, business people, working types. We are a legitimate organization.'
No Rebranding Possible
Whatever its PR efforts, the Klan can't rebrand and distance itself from racially-motivated violence, said Jelani Cobb, director of the Africana Studies Institute at the University of Connecticut.
"Violence and racial intimidation were the KKK's raison d'etre. They're not simply a controversial civic organization. If in fact they reject violence, the only honest way of establishing that would be to do restorative work for the incredible damage their history of violence has already done," he said. "No sensible person is going to wait around for that to happen."
And the Klan is but a shell of its former self, with an estimated 8,000 members in America.
The first Ku Klux Klan flourished in the South in the late 1860s, and then died out by the early 1870s. Members adopted white costumes: robes, masks, and conical hats, designed to be outlandish and terrifying, and to hide their identities.
The second KKK flourished nationwide in the early and mid-1920s, and adopted the same costumes and code words as the first Klan, while introducing cross burnings. The third KKK emerged after World War II and was associated with opposing the Civil Rights movement and progress among minorities.
But some questions the whole premise of the Klan rebranding story. And whether it should have run on national television.
@JeffreyGoldberg Damn, CNN has really scraped bottom....and not just of the Indian Ocean...- Mark Leibovich (@MarkLeibovich) April 20, 2014
@JeffreyGoldberg exactly- Ron Fournier (@ron_fournier) April 20, 2014
CNN wants to know: "Can the Klan rebrand?" "I believe in racial separation but it doesn't have to be violent" http://t.co/hxcru2MAoX- Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) April 20, 2014
Maybe not having members shoot people and yell "Heil Hitler" could help. So Good luck with that whole "getting better PR," KKK. #PT- Ms. Entropy (@MsEntropy) April 20, 2014