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Why The KKK’s Reign Of Terror Soared During The Prohibition

The powerful Anti-Saloon League, one of the major organizations that helped make Prohibition the law of the land, blamed immigrants, mostly from heavily Catholic countries in Southern Europe, for the scourge of alcohol, according to History. Beyond its anti-immigrant slant, the organization had loose ties with the KKK, which helped the Klan gain followers. Among its ranks were many members of the KKK. “The father and mother of the Klu Klux is the Anti-Saloon League,” the renowned lawyer Clarence Darrow remarked in 1924 (via “The Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition”). “I would not say every Anti-Saloon Leaguer is a Ku Kluxer, but every Ku Kluxer is an Anti-Saloon Leaguer.”

The two organizations were gathering members from the same demographic, typically white middle-class, evangelical Protestants from rural areas, per “The Second Coming of the KKK.” Prohibition was a good cover for the KKK’s true motives. “This issue was used instrumentally as a mandate to target those groups they already saw as enemies of white Protestant nationalism: immigrants, Catholics, and African Americans,” author, historian, and professor Lisa McGirr told Slate.



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