When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother. She was extremely religious, educated, and very much a free spirit. She laughed at the crazy stories and small town gossip people spun about her life. She was the person who would do something flashy but harmless so she could sit back and enjoy the entertainment from other’s baseless gossip. She cared not one wit about what the neighbors thought. She was also very political and loved Ronald Reagan. She hated racism of any kind.
My grandfather was also extremely religious and cared greatly about propriety and circumstance. He cared about what the neighbors thought. They were happily married for decades. I think they brought balance to each other.
One day when I was a teenager, I was at my grandma’s house. She decided to impart some worldly wisdom upon me. Grandpa was in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s at this point. Grandpa was a Mason. Grandma was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star. We were talking about relationships and dating. My grandma was trying to impress upon me to not tolerate intolerable behavior from anyone.
My grandma told me the following story.
Back in their younger years of marriage, the KKK raised a grandmaster and chapter in this area. They were actively recruiting local Mason’s, many of whom declined. My grandpa, however, was considering joining because it was being sold as just another men’s social club. It was being sold as a group of men getting together to return the world to what the Bible teaches, return the man to the head of the household, return the man to the leader in society, and return our government to God. It was a social club of like minded religious men who very much believed in the white culture that America was built upon. The KKK used basic core religious and political beliefs to pull in members and mold them into what they wanted them to be. They used group think and amped up adrenaline. They used male bonding. Grandpa told grandma he was going to join because he couldn’t see the problem with their base beliefs and it was after all just a men’s social club. Grandma told grandpa to go right ahead but she was filing for divorce if that was his decision. She wasn’t joking. He didn’t join. She said and I believer her, he was grateful later on when he saw what they were really about. Grandma and I talked at length on several occasions of the tactics the KKK as well as other extremist groups use in order to gain members.
I’ve had several people ask me why I am so adamantly opposed and unyieldingly against The Proud Boys. I see the exact same thing in this group as my grandma saw in the KKK. I want no part of The Proud Boys and I don’t want them anywhere near me. I want no part of any hate group. I feel the same way towards any extremist group. Extremism is never a good thing nor does it ever end well. As time goes by, and more members of The Proud Boys leave the group and speak out, the more my point of view is confirmed.