Russell Shorto

Oh, K

I moved last year from Amsterdam, arguably the world’s most permissive city, to Cumberland, Maryland. Cumberland is tucked into the hills in the western part of the state. I knew it was just a wee bit Appalachia, and for the most part that’s just fine. But yesterday the newspaper told us there would be a Ku Klux Klan rally downtown. A joke? No, apparently.

But then again, yes: a joke. The dreaded KKK registered with the Cumberland police its intention to hold a public demonstration to rally support for their Christian-racist ideology. So naturally I went. And I have to report, it was a gratifying display. The turnout on the K side was: six or seven hombres who looked like they’ve been living in a cave, wearing what I guess they took to be intimidating costumes. (No pillowcases, though.) Meanwhile, across the street from their display were at least 300 townspeople, of all races and skin colors, brandishing signs and hollering like hell at the silly creatures. The cops did their job: protected the freedom of speech thing.

All in all, gratifying. Humanity does evolve, apparently.




2 Replies to “Oh, K”

  1. You do know there are two penitentiaries there. Never a great sign. Although, it is beautiful up that way. I tripped over your site while researching something NYC/Dutch related. This is Lisa, your friend Bob Cwiklik’s old girlfriend–thanks for getting us back in touch, btw, he’s just as crotchety as ever. Also reconnected with our mutual friend Kurt Lovelace who sends me poetry. Very happy to have him back. Even if we didn’t have a connection I would still wonder at someone who gave up Amsterdam for the MD panhandle. Must be a good story. Hope you enjoy your new life there.

  2. EBL says:

    I understand that the KKK pretends to have some Christian justification, but they are hardly Christian (so calling the KKK a “Christian-racist” ideology is wrong–it is just racist (as well as anti-Semitic, anti Catholic, generally xenophobic) and just wrong. The truth is those people who were protesting them were probably mostly Christians (although I am sure some agnostics, atheists and other faiths took part too).

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About the Author

  I was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. I have three children (Anna, Eva and Anthony) and three step-children (Reinier, Hector and Benjamin).  I write books of narrative history; I believe history is most meaningful to us when it manifests itself through individuals in conflict. My books have been published in fourteen languages and have won numerous awards.  I am senior scholar at the New Netherland Institute and a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine. My interests include the past, the present and the future, not necessarily in that order.  

photo by Keke Keukelaar