Friday, February 11, 2011

Ronson Reading

In Jon Ronson's The Klansman that won't Use the N-Word, the author narrates his journey to the KKK's annual national congress. What he finds, however, is not the blood-thirsty, xenophobic white supremacists that one would suspect, but rational and relatively level-headed individuals who are trying to shake the mammoth deal albatross that the KKK bears around its neck, and move on as an organization. To do this, Thom Robb, the KKK's grand wizard, or leader, proposes they clean up their image by not being so openly racist, namely, by not using slurs out loud in public. By this, he says, the KKK can become a political power, because people may stop regarding them as obscene bigots, and more like a lobby group for the white race. Ronson finds out that even while doing the most iconicly racist action that the KKK is known for doing, burning a cross, the people involved are just people. People with unpopular beliefs, but people nonetheless.

Personally, I really liked this piece, partial because of the message it portrays, and also partially because of Ronson's writing. The idea that a completely obscene corporation can clean up their image and become a legitimate political power seems unlikely but not too far fetched, as there are some "news" corporations existing right now that spread somewhat similar messages. Ronson's writing is superb, and he perfectly expresses the amount of tension he is feeling, being a Jew in the thick of people that hate him for that.

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