Global media frenzy for new, improved, but oxymoronic white supremacist movement ignores that story is false
By Nate Thayer
November 11, 2014
The Ku Klux Klan is now welcoming Blacks, Jews, Gays, and Hispanics for membership in the 150 year old White Supremacist organization. The problem? The story is pure poppycock.
The bigger problem? Once credible media outlets published the story with the full knowledge it is false–and republished and linked and misquoted and twisted it further as they chased a sexier headline in a frenzied lust for webpage hits. The false story took on a life of its own and metastasized, trending across the globe.
This is how it started: The Great Falls, Montana Star Tribune wrote a perfectly legitimate story 7 days ago focused after a lone, eccentric local racist sent the small town newsroom a leaflet saying his new Ku Klux Klan was now welcoming non-whites into the white supremacist group.
The Star Tribune invited John Abarr, the self-appointed “Grand Goblin” of the Rocky Mountain Knights of the KKK, a new KKK group that exists only in his mind and cyberspace, into their newsroom for a chat.
Abarr, a Great Falls, Montana resident with a penchant for self publicity, Satanic cults, and racial hatred showed up “waiting for me before I arrived at the office in the morning,” said Star Tribune reporter Kristin Cates.
“Many suspicious of more inclusive Montana KKK chapter,” read the headline on November 3 in the Star Tribune, a Pulitzer prize-winning newspaper with a deserved solid reputation.
“One of Montana’s most well-known white supremacists is recruiting members for a new Ku Klux Klan, one which he said will be all-inclusive and shows he no longer holds supremacist views,” wrote the paper.
A week later, the London Independent, a respectable newspaper prior to the digital age, was trolling the internet and stumbled across the story, rejigged it, added a sexy headline, rewrote a few paragraphs, and published an entirely different news story designed for maximum internet page hits.
“The new KKK? White supremacist claims race, religion and sexual orientation no barrier for new joiners, but the hoods are compulsory,” read the headline.
It gained internet traction from there.
“Ku Klux Klan faction offers membership to Jews and other minorities,” read the Jerusalem Post
“The Ku Klux Klan is trying to re-brand – by inviting black people to join,” blared The Daily Mirror
“‘New Ku Klux Klan’ Determined to Have ‘Racial Diversity’, “ said Euroweb
And then the Huffington Post offered its signature green light of support.
“Ku Klux Klan Rebrand Opens Its Doors To Black People, Jews And Gays,” the HuffPost trumpeted. “Despite being better known for burning crosses on lawns, lynchings and horrific racism, the group is opening its doors to Jews, black people and gays.”
“Ku Klux Klan ‘Rebranded’: Group Diversifying to Include Jews, Blacks and Gays,” announced the International Business Times.
“White supremacist in Montana wants new Ku Klux Klan group to stand for diversity,” headlined the New York Daily News.
That news the Ku Klux Klan is now welcoming Blacks, Jews, and Gays into the membership fold took off like a rocket over the internet.
Not a single media outlet, other than the Great Falls Montana Star-Tribune, which wrote a balanced, skeptical story, bothered to check whether this new and improved media story on the new and improved Ku Klux Klan was true.
If they had, they would have found it isn’t.
When contacted, Kristen Cooke of the Star Tribune was unaware that her story had gone viral. “I was wondering why I got a call from the BBC, but I couldn’t understand the message and my phone doesn’t allow me to make international calls anyways.”
Abbar “is doing the same thing the media is doing–using the KKK name to grab headlines. It is him acting alone,” said Frank Ancona, Imperial Wizard of the Traditionalist Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the Missouri based head of one of the largest Ku Klux Klan groups in the U.S. “It is almost like something you would read in The Onion.”
Abarr and “Bradley Jenkins were both formerly with the Aryan Nations,” a now defunct neo-Nazi white supremacist organization once listed as a domestic terrorist organization by the FBI. “They really have nothing at all to do with the Klan except to try to further ruin the name and image,” said KKK Imperial Wizard Ancona, adding “It isn’t as if the name of the Klan is going to help recruit blacks and gays. John was sworn in over the Internet by the UKA–he never really has been a Klansman.”
The saga offers a good case study on how even the once reputable media intentionally disseminates false news for the purpose of getting maximum web hits.
WHO IS JOHN ABARR?
John Abarr, 41, is a pudgy former motel night auditor who recently left his job working the night shift at a rural “Super 8” motel to work at the Home Depot hardware story in Great Falls, population 37,000.
Abarr runs no organization in Montana and never has, records show.
“This man is a false prophet and should be looked at closely. He is a politician that cannot get elected any other way so now instead of standing for his Race he has turned his back on it and is using the name of an Organization to bolster his name. That is against everything the Klan stands for. He is violating the Oath that he took as a Klansman so why is he being called one?,” said Imperial Wizard of the United Klans of America Brad Jenkins today.
But, a few years ago, former Aryan Nations official and neo-Nazi Bradley Jenkins registered the internet domain name of the United Klans of America and created an internet business equivalent of the more sordid genre of television evangelists–and will sell memberships by mail order for cash over the internet to his Ku Klux Klan to anyone who asks and pays in advance.
Abarr bought the title of an “Imperial Kleagle”–or recruiter–from Jenkins’ Alabama-based United Klans of America run by Jenkins, over the internet in exchange for monthly dues Abarr sends to Jenkins’ PayPal account.
Once, the United Klans of America was a formidable Ku Klux Klan group, most notorious for the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., which killed four young children.
In 2012, Jenkins told Vice magazine that other Klan groups are just “nigger-hating rednecks,” unlike the UKA, which consists of a membership comprised of “educated men who are sick and tired of our country getting crapped on.”
But the United Klans of America, according to several active leaders of KKK organizations in the U.S., has an active membership of less than 50–most of whom have only ever communicated over the internet. The UKA has never held a public event.
Montana’s UKA Kleagle–or chief recruiter–John Abarr has never met UKA head Jenkins.
“There are people in the community who think he is insane,” said Kristen Cooke of the Star Tribune. “It is not for me to say. “Abarr said his father was a white supremacist and would regularly attend white power events and rallies as a child. Abarr said he was a supporter of the Aryan Nations since he was 13 and joined the KKK when he was 18,” said Cates.
There is no evidence that there is anyone else, other the John Abarr, in Great Falls, Montana who is a member of the KKK.
Abbar is a lone, small town racist with a thing for self publicity and a long resume as an eccentric extremist crackpot.
In 1994, Abbar, then a student at Eastern Montana College and a campus leader of the Young Republicans club, was sued by the Montana Human Rights Network for vandalizing the homes of local Jews.
At the time, Abarr was identified as renting a local post office box and claiming to be organizing a Montana chapter of the National Knights of the KKK, another mail order KKK under the leadership of an Arkansas based ordained Christian minister, Thom Robb. Robb, also, offers Klan memberships–as well as diploma’s for Christian ministerships–over the internet.
Abbar claimed last week to be the “Grand Goblin” of yet another Ku Klux Klan group–the Rocky Mountain Knights of the KKK–fighting against a “new world order.”
With the advent of the internet, more than a hundred groups have popped up–what old-time traditional Klansmen call “mom and pop Klans” or “cyber Klans”–claiming to be KKK. Most do not exist in any significance beyond cyberspace.
According to other KKK leaders who run actual Klan organizations, Abarr has no following at all.
John Abarris a phenomena of the internet and the media.
In the 1940’s, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service cracked down on the Ku Klux Klan, which had a then membership of an estimated 5,000,000, and bankrupted them. The KKK closed down the organization, giving up their copyrighted name. Ever since, anyone can create an organization and call themselves the Ku Klux Klan.
The Alabama based United Klans of America, unlike a number of more traditional KKK organizations, does not do a background check prior to accepting members. In exchange for dues paid via a Paypal account, the UKA will grant membership and titles to anyone who pays.
The Traditionalist Knight of the KKK Imperial Wizard Ancona added while Abarr is “more than qualified to be a congressman, he is over qualified to be an Imperial Wizard being as he actually has a job.”
John Abarr grew up in Wyoming and Montana, where his father, he said, was “active in the white supremacist movement.”
His early political activities started in the 1980’s, when he was a member of Montana State University-Billings’ Young Republicans. He also worked for U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns’ campaign that year–until the Montana state GOP learned that Abarr and other Young Republicans supported Red Beckman, a well-known anti-Semite.
Abarr was already a self-described Klan member and recruiter in Montana for the Arkansas based Knights of the KKK’s Realm of Montana and Montana Quest, where he passed out leaflets warning people about homosexuality and race mixing.
In 1989, at age 19, Abarr was the campaign manager for the head of the American Freedom Party, William Daniel Johnson, a well-known white racist and anti-Semite lawyer from California who ran for congress in Wyoming on a platform of deporting anyone with an “ascertainable trace of Negro blood.”
Johnson graduated from Brigham Young University, majoring in Japanese and went on to Harvard Law School, transferring to Columbia, where he earned a law degree in 1981, before moving to Tokyo and South Korea where he worked at law firms.
Johnson sought the Congressional seat vacated by Dick Cheney.
John Abarr was his Ku Klux Klan campaign manager.
Johnson also used the aliases William Daniel “Bill” Johnson and William Pace and was a leader of the American Third Position Party–an early 2000’s political phenomena that melded far right racial politics and neo Nazi sympathies with economic policies normally associated with leftist ideology.
Johnson declared that only people of European descent should have U.S. citizenship and everyone else should be deported.
One Johnson political ally was Richard Butler, founder of the Aryan Nations in Idaho who proposed a whites only separate nation in the American Northwest.
Johnson spoke in support of his political tract calling for the abolition of the 14th and 15th amendments of the U.S. constitution at the Aryan Nations World Congress gathering of neo-Nazis, racist skinheads and other white supremacists at Richard Butler’s Idaho property in 1986.
In 1989, Johnson moved to Casper, Wyoming to run in a special election for the House of Representatives job vacated by Dick Cheney, then nominated as secretary of defense by President George H.W. Bush. “Whites don’t have a future here in this country, and that is … one of many issues that I am addressing,” Johnson told The AP.
His campaign manager was a 19-year-old fledgling KKK wannabee John Abarr.
Abarr said at the time that the KKK was “a civil rights organization that stands up for the rights of white people.” Abarr also said “I’m not saying Germany was a paradise for Jews, but there wasn’t any plan to exterminate 6 million Jews.”
Johnson got less than 1% of votes.
Abarr told a reporter that the Klan was “basically a civil rights organization that stands up for the rights of white people.”
In 2002, Abarr attempted a hopelessly doomed campaign for Congress for Montana’s District 43 legislative seat and lost 425 votes to 114.
In 2011, John Abarr announced he was running for Montana’s lone U.S. House Seat as a Republican. Shortly, he withdrew after being rejected by Montana Republican party officials, who said they would have nothing to do with him.
Abarr said the election of Barack Obama prompted him to get back into politics. “I think that the fact Obama got elected shows that the white people are starting to lose their political power. I am running to draw attention to the fact that white people are becoming a minority and losing our political power and way of life.”
Abarr said he chose to run as a Republican because of the party’s fiscal policies. But Abarr’s quixotic platform included legalizing marijuana, increasing mental health programs, keeping abortion legal, and abolishing the death penalty because, he said, they were biased against poor people.
John Abarr, as of two months ago claimed to be head of the Montana United Klans of America, but told the local Havre, Montana newspaper: “I’m not at liberty to talk about it. “We are growing by leaps and bounds around Montana,” he said. “That is largely because of Obama.”
He said his campaign for Congress in 2012 ended “because of bias against the Klan.” He said his organization is not racist, but said his goal was to create a white republic in the northwestern United States and that Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington should secede from the U.S. federal government and form its own republic.
Abarr said that, while only whites should be able to vote or hold office, Native Americans would be allowed to stay in his newly created country. “The Indians were here before us,” he was quoted as saying. “Once whites are in the minority, we may be on reservations.”
Both Havre and Great Falls, Montana, according to census bureau statistics have less than 1% African-American populations.
In 2013, Abarr continued as a member of the Alabama based internet fuelled United Klans of America, representing Montana and Wyoming.
In February, 2013, numerous KKK groups from around the U.S. gathered at a rare show of unity in Memphis, Tennessee to protest a move to strip a local park of its designation named after the KKK founder Nathan Bedford Forrest.
The United Klans of American Imperial Wizard, Bradley Jenkins, made few friends in the white nationalist community when he staged a publicity stunt and joined in alliance with local Memphis leaders of the notorious black urban gang, the Crips. “We will stand resolute with the citizens of Memphis … and anyone in town, no matter what color they be, because hate and racism has no place,” said Jenkins. Jenkins pledged to support the Memphis African-American gang Grape Street Crips. At the time, Crips leader, Dajuan Horton, made public statements promising to counter protest the Klan demonstration and join in alliance with Jenkins’ UKA and greet them “with hugs.”
While a loose alliance of racist skinheads, neo Nazi bikers, and Ku Klux Klan assembled in Memphis, they were far out numbered by anti racist counter demonstrators.
But both the UKA Jenkins and the Crips leader Horton were no-shows. “It would have been nice to take a stand, but … it’s raining,” Horton told Vice News then.
In 2012, Montana elected officials were mailed leaflets from the “Northwest Knights” of the KKK, said to be from Harrison, Ark., using the website, www.KKK.com.
That website and the Harrison, Arkansas address is that of the Knights of the KKK run by Thomas Robb.
In an interview recently, Robb, detailed his radio and internet TV empire as well as his registered church. He spoke of proudly registering more than 40 KKK “brand” internet domains. His National Knights also offer KKK memberships as well as recognized ordained Christian ministerships–for a fee that can be paid over the internet.
The 2012 Montana leaflets sent to the legislature cite the “Montana First Committee”, which is said to have been created in 2011 for “white racialists in Montana, and want to create a white homeland in the Northwest.”
The leaflets said the Northwest Knights was a “fraternal organization that is dedicated towards white civil rights in the Northwest.”
The return mail address for the 2012 Northwest Knights was the same post office box in Great Falls, Montana currently used by John Abarr, who this week said he is the “Grand Goblin” of another KKK group, the Rocky Mountain Knights of the KKK.
In August, 2014, Abarr cited himself on his still active Facebook page as the Kleagle of the United Klans of America.
Last week, reported the Washington Times, “Montana Klansman vows to bring racial diversity to ‘new’ KKK”.
“A member of Montana’s Ku Klux Klan said he’s recruiting for new faces to join — and not necessarily white ones.” John Abarr said the Klan had “renounced its white supremacist ways and wants to bring more diversity to the group. The new Klan will not focus on race, but rather on reining in the federal government and keeping Capitol Hill from establishing a ‘new world order’,” wrote the Washington Times.
There is scant evidence that there is anyone, other than John Abarr, who are members of any of the above Ku Klux Klan group.
John Abarr appears to represent a modern-day incarnation of the Ku Klux Klan–one that would not exist until it is created and fueled by the digital age news media.