The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Paranoia as Patriotism:
Far-Right Influences on the Militia Movement

Thom Robb and the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan

The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, led by Thom Robb of Harrison, Arkansas, is the largest KKK faction operating today. Over the last serveral years, Robb has toned down the Klan's extremist rhetoric in a deceptive effort to make it more palatable to the public. He has urged his followers to avoid harsh racist language and emphasize instead their "love of the white race." Recent literature from the Knights states that "the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan does not preach against Negroes. We believe that everyone has a right to love their heritage and race. ... We believe that white people have a right to be proud of our history and culture just as much as black people have a right to be proud of theirs."

Robb has held a series of rallies at highly visible public places, in an attempt to recruit new members. The Knights have engaged in cynical campaigns to exploit several civic-minded themes, taking positions against drugs, drunken driving and dropping out of school. They also have attempted to join "adopt-a-highway" cleanup programs in several states. To appear more mainstream, Robb frequently ordered that his members dress in white shits and black trousers rahter than Klan robes for public appearances.

Robb's public relations campaign has been modeled on the image makeover attempted by David Duke, who founded the Knights and led them until 1980. After professing a goal of creating "a thousand" David Dukes, Robb attempted to run for the Arkansas legislature in 1992 as a Republican, but was rebuffed by the state Republican organization.

Yet the new face Robb wears thinkly masks his own racism and anti-Semitism. Robb is a "pastor" in the so-called "Identity" movement, which holds that northern Europeans are the true descentdants of the Biblical Israelites and that the Jews are descended from Satan. Robb has stated: "I hate Jews. I hate race-mizing Jews. We've let Antichrist Jews into our country and we've been cursed with abortion, inflation, homosexuality, and the threat of war."

Robb's racism is also a matter of record. In an April 1990 editorial in his hate sheet The Torch, Robb wrote: "When the Negro was under the natural discipline of white authority, white people were safe from the abuse and violence of the Negro, but the Negro was also safe from himself."

Friction over Robb's tactic of presenting a more moderate image, however, has been a significant factor in two recent major defections. In April 1994, a split from the Knights was led by Chicagoan Ed Novak (true name: Ed Melhonian), who had been Robb's Illinois state leader, national chief of security, and a member of the natotional council. Novak, once a neo-Nazi group member and known in the Klan as an advocate of secrecy and of being well-armed, brought sizable portions of Robb's membership into the new group, called the Federation of Klans, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

More recently, in August, Klan leaders from Michigan, Indiana and Illinois led a second walkout from Robb's organization, claimed the Knights' name for themselves, and pronounced Robb deposed as national director. (Robb responded by tossing them out of his Knights.) The man tapped to lead the mutinous outfit, David Neumann, 40, of Michigan, has reportedly said: "Thom Robb is a poor example of a Klansman. He comes off as a young Republican, not as a racialist."

As yet, the splintering of the Knights of the KKK has not led to violence. But the strong resistance to attempts to paper over the Klan's historic reputation for militant white supremacy suggests that the Klan movement continues to warrant the scrutiny of law enforcement, civil rights groups and members of the public. (Anti-Defamation League, 36-37)

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