Google Inbox may still be invite-only, but the Ku Klux Klan is apparently open to anyone these days. A longtime member of the KKK—perhaps the most notorious hate group in American history—has branched off and founded a chapter of the white supremacist organization that reportedly welcomes Jews, gays, and black people.
Haven’t signed up yet? In an interview with the Grand Falls Tribune, John Abarr, the branch’s founder, explained he wanted to promote a more inclusive organization. “White supremacy is the old Klan. This is the new Klan,” he said.
Abarr’s chapter, the Rocky Mountain Knights, was started after he met with leaders of the NAACP; he decided that the Klan and the NAACP didn’t necessarily “need to be separate.” Which would be a nice sentiment if the Klan wasn’t fundamentally about race hate.
But other than giving his new branch of the KKK a quaint, old-timey name, Abarr doesn’t intend to actually change anything it. Though he believes the KKK isn’t as much about white power anymore, he’ll still require members to wear the group’s trademark white hoods and robes–a sign that his intentions may be insincere.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Abarr ran for the House of Representatives in 2011, campaigning to “save the white race.” Having failed to secure that seat, Abarr may be using this as a way to legitimize himself as a KKK-affiliated political candidate. Indeed, Grand Wizard of the United Klans of America Bradley Jenkins believes Abarr is simply trying to help his political career.
The director of the Montana Human Rights Network told the Grand Falls Tribune that if Abarr were serious about creating an inclusive organization, he wouldn’t try to do it under the purview of the KKK—a groups synonymous with hatred and murder. Abarr may also be hiding behind the idea of a racially inclusive Klan without actually ever having to follow through on it—because nobody in their right mind, and certainly not Jews, gays, or black people, would ever actually decide to join an offshoot of the Ku Klux Klan.
Which is to say, Abarr’s new and improved Klan will probably never have a black member.
Alexander Aciman is a writer living in New York. His work has appeared in, among other publications, The New York Times, Vox, The Wall Street Journal, and The New Republic.