KKK – 'Increased and strengthened' since Obama's election

American photographer Anthony Karen spent over two years trying to get access to the Ku Klux Klan before being able to actually document them. His photos, published in "The Invisible Empire: Ku Klux Klan" (powerHouse Books 2009), show that the white supremacist group created over 140 years ago is still alive and well today. And even more so since the election of America's first black president, Karen tells us. Read more and see the photos...   


Anthony comments on his photos

Anthony Karen is a New York photojournalist and former US Marine.

The majority of Klan members are indistinguishable from the rest of society. I've come across Klan members all over the USA, including some from Spain, Italy and Germany. There are those who are doctors and lawyers along with those that are the hillbilly or lost soul type... I also knew a major Klan leader that owned and ran a day school for children of all races.

Some don't have any personal issues with other races, they just prefer to marry within their own race. And then you have those who despise certain groups and are very vocal about it. One lady I've documented has a black nurse and Hispanic healthcare worker that help care for her disabled daughter. She sews robes for many Klan members. Honestly, most of the racial talk I've heard is geared towards the illegal immigrants, and the Jews... (I'm sometimes referred to as Anthony from Jew York). And most of the time that [kind of talk] occurs at a gathering or demonstration. 

They don't all think exactly alike; you'll have some that go about the day just like the rest of us and others that may seek out a table in a restaurant with a white waitress over a black one. To take it a step further, I've spent a good amount of time in the Deep South and, contrary to popular belief, many are surprisingly polite to people of colour in an everyday situation.

I have heard of people quitting the Klan altogether, going independent or deciding not to hold affiliations with any organization at all. I haven't noticed any malice towards children that have adopted a belief outside of the Klan ideology. I think the only situation that might stir up reactions is if a child brought home a person of another race for a dating relationship. I can't generalize because I know of one group with two open lesbian members and, yes, that is an oddity within these groups.

[In relation to US President Barack Obama's election], I'm guessing they were upset. Some supported Obama for reasons I do not know and others supported him because they wanted the world to see him mess up as a black man, maybe to prove themselves right, I don't know. Then you have the ones that voted for anybody other than Obama because Obama was black. 

The Klan will be around for a long time in my opinion. I think the numbers will increase or decrease in conjunction with the state of society. For example, if crime continues to rise and the prison system is overflowing with a majority of black inmates or illegal immigrants, I believe you'll have more people that will get fed up and look to find an organization or maybe just some like-minded people that they can feel free to speak their minds to, without looking over their shoulder. Their numbers have increased not only because of Obama's colour, but also because of the state of the country and how America has seemingly politically corrected itself out of what it once was. The relevance of the KKK has increased and strengthened in my opinion [because of the election of Obama]".

The costumes were originally intended to portray KKK members as the ghosts of Confederate soldiers fallen in the Civil War. They were subsequently adopted to keep "night riders" anonymous.


Calm down and don't be distracted!

If having these KKK idiots around is the price for our freedom of expression, then I can live with that. However, the more important issue is the great harm done by followers of Islam which no one is willing to discuss.

Intolerance is intolerance,

Intolerance is intolerance, and should be confronted everywhere. A man I look up to, the former Commanding Officer of Naval Station Bahrain. He held a Captain's Mast (non-judicial hearing in place of trial for Sailors) for a Petty Officer Second Class who had harassed a Petty Officer Third Class for over a year for his perceived homosexuality. The Third Class documented it all, the eveidence of it was incontrovertible. The Captain asked the accused "Why would you treat your Shipmate, your brother, like this?" The Second Class was a coward, and tried to minimalize his harassment, and the Capatain cut him off and told him several things. He said that his intolerance, bigotry, and shameful treatment of not only his fellow man but of his brother in arms was contrary to everything the United States stands for. He told the accused that "You are an ENEMY of the United States!". The Captain threw the book at him; stripped him of rank, confined him for a period of time, and expelled him from the Navy. The KKK are enemies of everything the United States stands for. I refuse to allow this softening of their image distract me from their core beliefs of racial superiority and their history of violence. They are every bit as disgusting as radical Islamists.

Stop inciting hatred

It's a shame that so called photojournalist such as Anthony Karen are giving voice to hate mongers such as the KKK. His lacklustre article and photos attempts to humanise these evil and angry white people. He failed to realise that this is a group that is still locked in the past and failed to come to terms that the world has moved on. Our generation no longer judge a book by its cover. Stop propagating hate mongering and look for the common thread that binds us all as human beings.It's shocking that you spent two valuable years just to publish these laconic article and photos. I wonder where you go next with your photojournalism?

It is baffling to read your

It is baffling to read your conclusions on the clan being around and increasing in strength and numbers when you have made no real argument or listed observations that support that notion.

Furthermore, treating the KKK as some sort of tolerant organization is ludicrous! Last time the world checked, "live and let live" was not one of their guiding principles.

KKK photos

A photographer may take opportunistic photos of an organization and people that raise the hackles of decent people, but that doesn't make him an artist, insightful, or even articulate. The commentary the photographer provides is as uninspired as the photos.


The KKK does not have much chance of survival, once the educational system is overhauled. Ignorance of this kind will contintue diminish as time goes along. The Southern Poverty Law Center will cause them to further deteriorate
with lawsuits and if their activities become more lethal. We will put them away with the various other Gang Members now incarcerated for decades.Ignorance is bred not inherited and we can educate them into submission one way or another. Hate Crimes will be enforced under Obama by the new Attorney General Holden. We will not let this stand anymore.

Bad Taste

From the tone of your writing you are one of them,surely in this 21st century to be thinking like that then you are sick.What make a man or organisation to be known and popular is through the power of the ink. why do you talk on asumption without conducting a rearch on how popular, how they have increased in numbers and how they have strength their ground. on what basis did gather you information. This kind of writing is not progressive. you go back and rearch further, otherwise you wasting time find something of interest to write about

Bad taste by Chola Chalwe

If it's not too much trouble, could you re-write your comments in English, please, or at least, in a way that can be understood? Your comments are pure unadulterated gobbledegook.

guess what.

Maybe the intelegent among the Klan will simply allow the "Klan" as we know it, to act as a public distraction for a new organization that will accomplish the original goal of this organization.This new organization will be made up of very refined, educated and organised professionals. This goal was to form a gurilla army that would rise up and recapture the southern states. It was organised by one of the most gifted gurilla fighters in history, Nathanial Bedford Forest, of Tennessee. They were called "The invisible army of the South." Too bad a few slack minded individuals swayed the group from it's intended purpose. This so disgusted the founding father that he rejected any affiliation with this group. I agree with him, since there is no objective with the Klan as we know it today, much less any action in the direction of fullfilling any sort of objective. I hope that all agree with me!!

Guess what?

Come on - Nat Ben Forrest was a racist ass: a bigot of the first order. In your blog, you sound as if you admire him and his race hate ideals. This world will not grow up until stupidity such as this is eradicated.