Do the white thing
Of all people, why would a half-Mexican want to talk to a Klansman? Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been without cable and watching Ku Klux Klan videos on YouTube for the past few weeks. Or maybe it was simply that I looked up in the autumn sky and admired the powerful white clouds. But for whatever reason, I checked out www.kkk.bz and ended up in the Klanosphere. And within seconds, I was on the line with Pastor Thomas Robb, a Baptist preacher and national director of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Arkansas.
Civil-rights experts call Robb one of the most dangerous white supremacists alive. Dan Levitas of the Center for Democratic Renewal in Atlanta says the Klansman is a “master of media manipulation. He has constructed a well-crafted and successful marketing strategy for the Klan.”
But when I spoke with Robb, he seemed kind, accommodating, friendly and downright—oh yeah, the manipulation.
What are your thoughts on the race? Um, the presidential race, I mean.We find things about Obama offensive; we find things about John McCain offensive.
What about John McCain do you dislike?Oh, John McCain, of course, teamed up with Kennedy on the immigration reform. And we think illegal immigration in this country is a huge problem, [and so do] a vast majority of the American people. Everybody’s really concerned about this immigration flooding our country. John McCain appears that he wouldn’t do anything to stop it, so that’s probably the major issue facing our country. And John McCain is not the guy to put a halt to it. [Neither would] the other candidates—except for Ron Paul, maybe Duncan Hunter.
So you were rooting for Ron Paul?That’s who I would have voted for before. Right now, I don’t know what I’m going to do. A lot of people in the white nationalist movement believe we should support a third-party political candidate, which I kind of lean towards because of the fact that the major political parties betray the interests of the American people.
But I imagine that for someone with your viewpoint that it’s hard to pick even a third-party candidate who lines up with your ideals.Well, you know, that’s kind of why I really like Ron Paul. It isn’t so much that Ron Paul is a white nationalist, like I would be described, but because … well, actually Ron Paul would have support coming from people within the traditional right wing or the white nationalist movement. [He’s] also gaining support from people that considered themselves liberals or Libertarians and would disagree with us on many issues.
The reason we all came to agreement in supporting Ron Paul is because he was a strict constitutionalist and we believe the Constitution was [being] followed the way the Founding Fathers prescribed it. We feel that would be the best course for this nation to follow, but we have a federal government that tramples upon the Constitution, especially in the area we consider as the war in Iraq, which we don’t support and never have. Not like we’re Johnny-come-latelys—we have been against the war in Iraq even before it was officially announced—but we feel that our allegiance should be to America, not to Israel.
Not that I’m sitting here saying that I support the invasion of one country over another country in foreign matters, but the point is: What goes on in other nations don’t have a bearing in our security. My foreign policy, if I was president, which, of course, I am not, nor will it ever happen, but we all have our ideas of what we would do. I’m sure sometimes you think, “If I was president, this is what I would do.” If I was president, my foreign policy would be very simple: We’d stay out of all affairs of foreign nations. If they mess with our citizens, if they mess with our nation, we’ll blow ’em off the map.
Yeah, I get it. Man, do you feel like there are almost no white people left in America anymore?Well, it’s not what I feel; what I feel means little. The fact is, in 34 years white people will become a minority. In the year 2042 … white people will be a minority. 100 years ago, we were 50 percent of the world’s population. [Within] the next decade we’ll be less than 10 percent of the world’s population. I think it’d be a shame to lose our heritage and culture.
I don’t think it has anything to do with hatred. If we have organizations … wanting to preserve creatures of the wild: Rocky Mountain cougars, great blue whales … whatever creatures they may be, the spotted owl or whatever … then I don’t think there’s anything wrong with myself or others saying that we’re preserving our heritage.
Certainly black people or other people of color can talk about love of their culture, love of their heritage, that they want to preserve their children and so forth. Of course they have the right to do that. I would never deny anybody of color their right to preserve their heritage. When white people talk about preserving their culture, they’re considered haters and bigots.
I don’t hate black people. I have no reason to hate black people. I’ve never had any black person do anything bad to me. I’ve traveled across every state of the union and I have encountered contact with people of color and I have shown kindness and courtesy and have been shown kindness and courtesy by blacks and Mexicans many times. So it isn’t saying white people are good, black people are bad; there are many [people of color] that are very good and there are white people that are very bad. It’s a matter of we have a right to preserve our heritage.
Good point. So as a half-Mexican, can I join the white nationalist movement?No. You could not. Now, when you say Mexican … Mexican is a nationality. There are Mexicans who are white. There are Mexicans who are not white. There are Americans that are white. There are Americans that are not white. There’s people being born in Scotland that call themselves Scottish who are from Africa, but they’re not Scottish, they’re African and—
That’s confusing. So my Mexican-ness trumps my whiteness?(Laughs.) Well, again, you say you’re half-Mexican; I can’t tell, I—I don’t know if you’re Zapatismo or if you’re—
I kind of look Italian.Yeah. Well, that I don’t know. I’m not sitting here passing racial judgments on anyone—
Really?!I just know that there are many people within Mexico who are white. We have many members in Spain who have those traditional names of Rodriguez (and so on) who are white Spaniards, so I’m not going to pass judgment. So it has nothing to do with hatred or anything. You tell me you’re half-Mexican but I don’t have any hatred. If I saw you on the street, I wouldn’t treat you any different than anyone else.
I always say that my glass is half white, but the other half is Mexican.(Laughs.) Well, anyway, I don’t know about that …
So you’re out in Arkansas?Yeah, our national office is out in northwest Arkansas—Harrison, Arkansas. Originally I’m from Detroit, Michigan. I’m a Northern Yankee, I guess you’d say. I lived in California for a while, in Bellflower, outside of Los Angeles, about 40 years ago.
So there are a lot of people who share your views out there?Out there?
In Arkansas.There are people who share our views across the country. Most of our membership is in the Northern states. Heavy membership in New England.
Really?Oh yeah. In the South, it’s actually probably smaller than in the North. I suspect, well, I really don’t know why.
Did you ever see the Chappelle’s Show episode where he was a Klansman?Who’s that?
Dave Chappelle, the comedian.Dave Kapel?
Dave Chappelle. He’s black; a comedian. You ever watch Comedy Central?Oh gosh, uh, I have watched it—
In this skit he was a blind guy in the Klan—Oh yeah! I saw that. He was a black guy and a Klansman and he found out about it.
Yeah!I got that recorded and I show it to everybody that comes by the house! That’s really funny. That’s one of our favorite things to watch. As long as it’s funny. If people are mean and things like that, it’s different. But hey, we can take a joke. What would the world be if people couldn’t laugh?
So you’re actually in the Klan, huh?I’ve been in the white nationalist movement since [unintelligible]. So, yes, I’m the national director of the Klan. (Robb’s phone cuts out).