'Great for the white race’: KKK rises on politics of hate
THE Ku Klux Klan, hate groups and hate crimes, are back on the rise riding the wave of the politics of hate.
They're popping their robes back on, emboldened to broadcast their white supremacist message like never before.
And they're using Donald Trump and Pauline Hanson, whether those politicians like it or not.
That's what Liz Hayes discovered as she went deep intro the heart of the hate groups in the US for a report airing on 60 Minutes on Sunday.
Hayes was prepared for the ravings of those who feel free to speak out on the back of the elevation of Donald Trump to US President.
What she wasn't prepared for was to find an Australian politician on their radar: Pauline Hanson.
The One Nation leader's name came up as Hayes met the leader of The Knight's Party (also known as the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan), Pastor Thomas Robb and his daughter, Rachel Pendergraft.
The pair stream a daily news service, White Resistance News, focusing on "white nationalism" from a makeshift studio in the US.
Hayes didn't raise the name Pauline Hanson. Her interview subjects did: they had broadcast stories about her.
Granted, they stumble over where she is from, quickly correcting "Austria" to "Australia" in their report, but Hayes says "they were pretty across her".
"I was surprised. I didn't mention her. It didn't cross my mind they would know who she was.
"It was unsolicited and I'm not sure what Pauline would make of that, to be honest.
"I think even she would be mortified that they would see her as one of their own."
Hayes' story comes on the back of FBI figures which late last year revealed hate crimes in the US against Muslims had surged by 67 per cent during 2015.
Anti-Jewish hate crimes rose by 9 per cent and anti-black hate crimes rose by 8 per cent.
The rise, far higher than in any other major category of hate crimes, came during a year marked by news of atrocities by the Islamic State and Donald Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric.
And the number of hate groups in the US has tripled.
GREAT FOR THE WHITE RACE
"Donald Trump may not have intended it to be, but hate groups quickly saw him as their shining light because of firstly his policies on immigration, but more particularly because he didn't seem to be in any rush to denounce them," Hayes says.
"White Supremacists interpreted that as a wink and a nod that really Donald Trump was on their side. This is their interpretation. It is perhaps not his.
"But they are very articulate, and very much of the opinion that Donald Trump is on their side.
"They are very clear about saying 'he gives us legitimacy'.
"They don't hold back in saying 'Donald Trump has given us licence to speak'. They think this is great for the white race."
Case in point is Californian Grand Dragon for Loyal White Knights. The group tells Hayes: "With Donald Trump as our president it has given the white people, especially the white Christian people a voice."
They may be speaking louder and prouder than ever, Hayes says (they'd hate that phrasing, she observes, because many of the hate groups also condemn homosexuality), but she discovered, some remain paranoid.
Her 60 Minutes story opens in a tiny hotel room, with security for the Orange County branch of the KKK, the Loyal White Knights, checking they're not walking into an ambush.
"It truly was hysterical," Hayes says.
"They looked under the bed, they looked in the pillows they checked the bathroom.
"They were very worried and it turns out that was because they had been caught up in violent confrontations in the past. They were uncertain about whether it was an ambush, even though they had nominated the location themselves."
Hayes goes deep into the American mid-west to speak with representatives of a number of KKK-aligned groups, where the white supremacist message is broadcast on billboards and KKK radio.
She finds fear among white supremacists wearing anything from suits and ties to Klan robes.
Inevitably, Hayes finds confrontation: not least with a "smug" Jared Taylor, head of white nationalist organisation the American Renaissance.
Taylor claims that whites are intellectually smarter than blacks, and he opposes interracial relationships "because it'll be genocide against my people".
When Hayes puts to him his (scientifically debunked) claims are divisive, and he is a hater, he looks at her with a mixture of annoyance and disbelief.
"You really understand nothing ... I'm disappointed in you. I'm disappointed in you," he lectures her.
Hayes calmly replies: "I'm okay with your disappointment."
NOTHING FUNNY ABOUT B-GRADE COMEDY
Hayes told news.com.au there were moments so strange that filming was "like a B-grade comedy".
"You have the Klansman with the hood on, and they've cut the eye holes with a pair of scissors ... but you know what? They're nasty," she said.
"In the end you might have a giggle, but frankly what they believe in and what they say and how they behave is absolutely not funny. None of these people are funny.
"What is chilling is this rise is part of a mood around the world, a fear of change and a lot of things, so for white supremacists it opens up as an opportunity to get rid of all those other people we don't like, "and they just happen to be every other colour bar mine".
"The interesting thing is all hate groups pretend they don't hate. They just pretend they love their own race. But it all boils down to the one thing: they're white supremacists and nobody is as good as the white person.
"Walking away I thought "oh my god we have gone back 50 years in time.
"I thought we had grown up. I thought we had put all of this behind us. We haven't. There's always going to be strands of racism, but I didn't think it would be so loud now."
60 Minutes airs on Sunday at 8.30pm on Channel 9