North Carolina was one of the more reluctant participants in the Confederacy, and residents thought of themselves as socially inclusive compared to their less-reconstructed neighbors as the civil rights movement took hold.  And yet a strong unreconstructed presence in the state led sociologist David Cunningham to investigate Klanville, U.S.A.: The Rise and Fall of the Civil-Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan, the object of this year's Book Review No. 7.

The work is an academic study, extensively endnoted, and fortunately free of the barbarism of numbered endnotes accompanied by footnotes within the body of the text and identified by asterisks or other timetable symbols.  The distinction among Klans of various eras is clarified (the trappings are similar, the policy goals differ, the social prestige of being a member varies).  Professor Cunningham suggests that the influence of Klan attitudes remains, despite the organization itself being in eclipse, and the more egregious manifestations of white supremacy scattered among a variety of smaller groups.  His working hypothesis is that competition for resources based on ethnicity provides an organizing principle for Klans (as well as for associations among people suppressed by the existing order?)  Left uninvestigated, though, is the appeal of racialist organizations among the least well-off members of the dominant society as a way of keeping others in an even worse condition (the explicit or implicit logic of Klan opposition to integration.)  Poverty among the poorer members of a community does not of itself make the richer members of a community better off.  That's an anomaly for future research.

(Cross-posted to Fifty Book Challenge.)

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