Sunday, November 12, 2017

Behind the Mask of Chivalry and Propaganda

Recently I have been reading Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Ku Klux Klan, it has been an interesting read, and I have even been caught off guard by a few of the facts that the book presents that are different to the the popular beliefs held about the Klan. The book has been slightly challenging in that it is a very dry book that I sometimes lose focus on. Even though I get distracted sometimes, I am still very interested in this book and I have 114 pages read in it, and I try to read 20 minutes a day at home. I chose this book because I am interested in how the Klan fell from grace from the the massive social movement it was in the 1920s, into the now ridiculed group relegated to parts of the southern United States, and who is behind the mask of Chivalry? One of the facts that caught me off guard was the fact that the average Klansman isn't some imbecilic yokel who yearns to destroy anything that isn't his color, in fact, the average Klansman in the 1920s was a good man who had sympathy for others. The Klan was a lodge didn't just hate, it treated its members and other protestant whites well, for example: "when the son of a Klansman got his bike stolen, the others bought him a new one (Mclean 15)" or "after a Klansmen's house burned down, the local Klan raised money and helped him rebuild(Mclean 15)" the Klan would also throw an annual "Great Klan Barbecue" for it's members that included food, sports, and music.  The Klan would even help in charitable events for non-members by raising funds for victims of natural disasters. So, why did these good men join a lodge that supported lynching and murder? These men were spurred onto this path by propaganda claiming that non-whites, Catholics, and Jews are the root of all evil. One major piece of propaganda was the controversial film: "The Birth of a Nation" which portrays the Klan as heroes in a post civil war world, so that "Every time someone thinks of the Klan they imagine a noble man on a white steed (Mclean 101)"  This film likely converted many ordinary people into members because it was largest propaganda pace ever made by the Klan. The Klan is still using propaganda to coax people into joining by detailing the 'white genocide' that is happening from interracial sex and immigration in propaganda pieces like this. Propaganda is a powerful tool utilized by the Klan and many other groups, every day we are subjected to Propaganda from many other organizations, and it shapes us into the people we are from the different propaganda we view and are told to believe by authority figures like our parents, all media is propaganda is one way or another, and it is up to us to succumb to it like the Klansmen did, or to reject it like free-thinking individuals. 


MacLean, Nancy K. Behind the mask of chivalry: making of the second Ku Klux Klan. Oxford Univ. Press, 1995.

Hamilton, Matt. “Ku Klux Klan propaganda blankets Whittier neighborhood.” LA Times, 28 June 2015,


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Catch-22 and the Cycle of Violence

Catch-22 is a classic American novel written by Joseph Heller. The book is about U.S. bomber pilots stationed on an island near Germany during the latter half of World War II, it follows Yossarian, one of the pilots that desperately wants to get out of the war so he doesn't get killed. However, because the higher-ups keep pushing the mission limit up Yossarian cant leave. One of Catch-22's biggest themes is in the writing style of the book: Cycles. Catch-22 has constant use of cycles, whether it be in character dialogue, expositional writing, or the general themes of the book. The title itself is used as a cycle in the book as "There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to(pg:55 Heller)." Circular logic is used in this book to portray  the theme that war is an endless cycle and will continue to be that way until the end of time. Catch-22 uses the unwritten, unspoken military law to show that war is and will always be existent, and when one war ends, another begins in the cycle of war. The characters Yossarian and Major Major are only ones in the book who want to break the cycle of war, Major does it by forging signatures and locking himself in his office and refusing to let anyone in which the book describes as: "With a little ingenuity and vision, he had made it all but impossible for anyone in the squadron to talk to him, which was just fine with everyone, he noticed, since no one wanted to talk to him anyway(pg:111 Heller)." Yossarian tries to break the cycle by cutting through the red tape of bureaucracy and moving the bombing line in the city of Bologna himself at night, rather than having to preform a mission that he will surely die on. These characters represent those who want to destroy the cycle of violence and destruction that has plagued humanity for thousands of years.