It was an absurd idea, but it worked

Scale of 1 to 10, how believable is the following?

Back in the 1970’s, the Colorado Springs Police Department hired its first African-American (as an officer, not as the help). Not long after being hired, Ron Stallworth (if you thought CSPD would hire a Black woman before a Black man, recall that while Black men are Black, we’re still men, so a society that values men over women would still show bias against Black women and in favor of Black men) saw an ad in the newspaper for the Ku Klux Klan, who were looking to increase their membership. I’m guessing members of everyone’s favorite cross-burning racist organization were doing some spring cleaning and noticed a surplus of white sheets in their stockroom. So instead of donating the sheets to the Red Cross or Goodwill, they figured to begin a recruitment drive. Given that monitoring and dismantling extremist groups was part of his job, Stallworth had an idea. He would infiltrate the KKK and learn all about the local chapter, gaining crucial information that would enable him to bring them down. Yeah, his idea hinged on him, a Black man, infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan. By April 1979, he had not only joined the KKK, but he’d also pulled the wool over the eyes of the local KKK chapter and the Grand Wizard himself, David Duke.

Sounds like something out of The Onion, doesn’t it?

As preposterous as that sounds, it’s all true. Today,  just shy of the 40th anniversary of Black Man Makes Fools Out of Local KKK Chapter, BlacKKKlansman debuts, further immortalizing Stallworth’s efforts. Starring John David Washington (son of Denzel Washington) and Adam Driver, the Spike Lee-directed film tells the story of Ron Stallworth’s successful bid to do that which most other African-Americans don’t even have on their fictional bucket lists, let alone their real ones.

a copy of Ron Stallworth's 'certificate of citizenship' into the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
Essential to verifying his highly implausible tale, here is Ron Stallworth’s actual certificate of citizenship (don’t ask me why the haters didn’t go with the more logical ‘certificate of membership’). See, I told you it was true.

 

From the Denver Post:

Stallworth played the voice in phone conversations with Klan members while his partner showed up in person to Klan meetings in basements and churches around Colorado Springs. Together, they created a fictitious “Ron Stallworth” who ascended the KKK’s ranks, befriending Duke and tracing the Klan’s local infiltration all the way to Fort Carson and NORAD.

The detail [the certificate of citizenship  –Tony] is a product of Stallworth disobeying orders at the time to destroy evidence of his investigation, squirreling away reports from his months pretending to be a man hell-bent on harassing racial minorities in southern Colorado and beyond. The reports proved crucial while writing his 2014 book “Black Klansman.”

“I was just concerned about preserving the physical copies of the investigation, because nobody would ever believe that a black man had pulled this con job off on white supremacists,” said Stallworth, now 65 and living in his Texas hometown of El Paso.

 

Even the guy who came up with the idea thinks it is darn near unbelievable!

From the trailer, it looks like the movie may have a comedic slant to it, which, given the absurd premise at its core, could work in the film’s favor. Doubly so, since I can’t shake the nagging feeling that part of Spike Lee’s goal with this film was to demystify the KKK (by showcasing the inner workings of a local chapter) as well as present them as an organization to be mocked and ridiculed, rather than one to be joined. In fact, I wonder if this is why David Duke, in what I can only imagine was a case of hurt fee fees, contacted Stallworth (content note: ableist language):

 

“He wanted to talk about the fact that he’s concerned about how he’s going to be portrayed in this film,” Stallworth explained with Lee right next to him. “He’s only seen the trailer and in the trailer, it makes him off to be a buffoonish, cartoonish idiot.”

Afterward, Holt asked if Duke really did look foolish in the film.

“In some areas, yeah,” he admitted.” “Spike made him look kind of stupid, but he was stupid in how this whole thing transpired 40 years ago.”

Concerned about your depiction in the film, huh DD [i’ll never look at Daredevil the same way again] ? I can see why you might be concerned about people viewing you as racist trash, so here’s some helpful advice: you’re always going to be viewed by decent people as racist trash and there is nothing you can do about that. You made that bed, and the matching sheets to go with it. You can take a few other steps, most notably, renounce your white supremacist beliefs. Immediately after that, cough up every bit of information you have about anyone with even minimal ties to the KKK (as well as any other racist organization you have knowledge of), donate all your money to the ADL and any chapter of the Blacks Lives Matter Movement, condemn the racist rhetoric from the Bombastic Buffoon in the White House (whom you once endorsed), and then go skydive into a volcano because you’ve caused enough racial strife to last several lifetimes.

What’s that? You were just worried about being portrayed as a cartoonish buffoon? Well, drat. Nearly all the advice I offered was dependent upon you being ashamed that you were shown to be racist trash. Feel free to skip to the part about the volcano, bc there are too many of your ilk in this country as it is.

When BlacKKKlansman debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May, it received a six-minute long standing ovation and won the Grand Prix award. Add in the outlandish nature of the premise, and you’ve got plenty of reasons to see this film

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It was an absurd idea, but it worked
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The Bolingbrook Babbler:  The unbelievable truth is now at freethoughtblogs.com/babbler

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