My Son: Klan Reformer


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May 30, 2007

Ah, my son, my son . . . .

He's 40 years old, and really needs to change careers.

When he was 20, he joined the Ku Klux Klan, because he was concerned that the Klan was getting too big, too aggressive. In those days, they were lynching some poor man every week, which he felt was wrong. He felt that the Klan should limit itself to a lynching every month, and that things were getting waaaay out of hand.

I've spent my life arguing that the Klan should be abolished, so I had mixed feelings about his decision. Without a doubt, I would rather the Klan lynch someone once a month rather than once a week, so I was somewhat tempted by his 'work from the inside' approach, but I had some significant doubts that it could work.

'But dad,' he said, those many years ago, 'I can get the word out that the Klan should only be lynching someone once a month, rather than once a week, which will be a step in the right direction, right?'

'Well, I'm not sure,' I said uneasily. 'Won't people be getting the message that lynching is good, rather than that lynching is bad? You're legitimizing the principle.'

'But I want to reduce the number of lynchings, dad!' he replied. 'In an ideal world, sure, there should be no lynchings at all, but I'm going to bring that number down, which is a step in the right direction, right? I mean, it's better if fewer people get lynched, right?'

I was uneasy, because something just sort of ' seemed wrong with his approach, but I couldn't put my finger on it.

For the past 20 years, my son has been notorious in the Klan. He draws a paycheck, goes to meetings ' and has been given control over his very own district of Klan loyalists.

To his credit, whenever the Klan Council votes on whether to have a lynching, my son usually votes 'no.' Often he's the only one casting a negative vote.

Still, since he joined the Klan with the goal of reducing lynching, lynching has gone up and up and up.

Now, the Klan that 20 years ago only lynched a man a week is now lynching a man a day.

And my son's district? Has he been able to reduce the lynching in the area he has control over?

No. In fact, the lynching in his own district has actually gone up over the years.

When I ask him about this, his answer is always the same: 'Sure, dad, but I don't have that much control over who gets lynched in my district. I oppose it, of course, but there's not a whole lot I can do.'

A few months ago, my son came over and told me he was running for Grand Wizard.

'If I become Grand Wizard,' he said, 'I will be able to veto most of the lynchings that come up for a vote. Then I'll really have the power to reduce the number of people getting killed or beaten up.'

'But son!' I exclaimed in horror. 'People ' other than you, let's say ' only join the Klan so they can lynch people. If all they want to do is lynch people, why on earth would they vote you in? And if you somehow got in, the moment you stopped them from lynching, they'd just toss you out! If you stop the Klan from lynching, it's not the Klan anymore!'

'No,' he said earnestly, 'it's still the Klan ' it's just a smaller Klan that lynches less!'

'Twenty years ago,' I said softly, 'you said that in a perfect world, there would be no lynching at all . . . .'

'Sure,' he said, coloring slightly. 'But I can't talk about that. About there being no lynching at all. I mean, that would be mad ' I'd never get elected Grand Wizard!'

'Right, so you're on a 'pro-lynching' platform, you just want less lynching.'

'Yes,' he said, nodding vigorously, immune to irony.

'So it's wrong to lynch a lot, but it's right to lynch a little.'

'Well, ideally, there should be no lynching at all . . . .'

'But that's not what you're telling people. You're telling people that the right thing to do is lynch less.'

'Sure ' because less lynching is better than more lynching.'

'But no lynching is better, right?'

'Yes, in an ideal world . . . .'

'So why don't you tell people that? That you want to take over the Klan in order to abolish it!'

He laughed. 'Oh, I don't think that's the right idea. Right now, we need the lynchings. We need the Klan. It's just gotten too big.'

Round and round we went, from pragmatism to principle, back and forth . . . . It was most exasperating!

After a public debate where my son roused a real ruckus by openly stating that the reason that certain minorities hated whites was because of white support for the Klan that lynched them, his numbers shot up from somewhere near 0% to around 3%.

He came right over, ecstatic. 'I'm really getting the message out, dad!'

I grimaced. 'Well ' I hate to say this, son, but I think you just shot yourself in the foot.'

'Wh ' what?' His voice hardened instantly.

'You say that minorities hate the Klan because of the lynchings, right?'


'But the number of lynchings has gone up like five or six times since you joined the Klan ' and the number of lynchings in your district has also gone up!'

'But I vote against most of the lynchings!'

'But son! You are in the Klan! You support lynchings! How can you say that the Klan is immoral?'

'Because, as I've said about ten thousand times over the past 20 years, dad, there's too much lynching!'

'So you think that minorities will love you now? When you say they have every right to hate the lynching that you support less of? My God, son ' when did it happen that the best possible outcome a good man could hope for was to present himself as the lesser of two evils?'

'Because change has to be gradual, dad!' he cried out. 'Has your podcasting and scribbling stopped even one lynching? At least I'm out in the real world trying to get something done!'

'And what, after 20 years, have you achieved? You said to me, long ago, 'Dad, I'm in this to reduce the numbers of lynchings. And you've been taking Klan money and hanging out with these thugs for decades, and what is the outcome? More lynchings. More Klan power! So what have you achieved?'

He jumped up. 'Well, yeah, sure, there are more lynchings now, but can you imagine what would have happened if I hadn't joined the Klan? Instead of just one lynching a day, there could be two or three!'

'How do you know that? That's just something you tell yourself, so you don't feel that you compromised your principles for nothing. There's no evidence of that!'

'I've voted against most of the lynchings!'

'And the lynchings happened anyway! And still you stay with these thugs!'

Suddenly he changed tactics. 'Why do you care so much what I do? We're both for less lynching, we're both on the same side of the fence, we shouldn't be fighting each other.'

'But you are fighting me,' I said softly. 'Don't you understand that?'

There was a long silence. Our mutual anger was spent.

'What do you mean?'

'Son, you think that lynching should be reformed, I think it should be abolished. It's like slavery.' I sighed. 'In the 19th Century, a lot people were very uneasy about slavery. Deep down, they knew that it was wrong. But they also were afraid of real change. And there were two groups: the reformers and the abolitionists. The reformers promised people that slavery could be made more humane, that the slaves could be treated better, beaten and raped less ' and so slavery did not have to be eliminated. They worked to pass laws against the extreme mistreatment of slaves, held rallies, raised money ' an enormous amount of time, energy and resources were wasted trying to reform slavery. And, as they worked and worked, for decades and decades, more slaves got beaten and raped, conditions got worse and worse, and ' the worst thing in my view ' people uncomfortable with slavery were given the comforting illusion that it did not have to be abolished.

'The abolitionists, on the other hand, knew that slavery could not be reformed, that it was evil through and through, and that it had to be abolished. And their most dangerous opponents were not those who were unabashedly pro-slavery. Their most dangerous opponents were the reformers.'

He rolled his eyes. 'So ' you're saying that I'm your enemy now?'

'No, because we've never had this conversation. And for that I'm sorry. But what you're doing, what you've been doing for 20 years, is telling people that the Klan can be good if only the right person is in charge. You're giving people false hope, because the Klan can never be good. And so they shrink back from abolishing the Klan, because that seems extreme, because here's this smart, well-spoken person who's been in the Klan for 20 years, who's saying that the Klan is good and necessary, and all we have to do is put him in charge of it. So when I come along and say that the Klan is immoral, and needs to be abolished, you know what people say to me? They say, 'Nahhh, I'm going to support your son, he has great plans to reform the Klan, I agree with a lot of what he says, there is too much lynching ' we don't have to abolish the Klan, that's too extreme.' And that's been going on for the last 20 years, son. You're giving people a false choice that helps them avoid the necessity of change, from confronting the evil in their midst. And you legitimize the Klan by claiming to be a good man and being part of it. I'm telling you this from the bottom of my heart, son: if you did not exist, the Klan would have to invent you.'

There was a long pause.

'All right, dad,' said my son eventually, raising his eyes to mine. 'I'll drop my run for Grand Wizard. On one condition.'

'Anything!' I cried out, overjoyed.

'You drop your support for Ron Paul.'

A video of this article is available here.

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Stefan Molyneux's picture
Columns on STR: 17

Stefan Molyneux is the host of Freedomain Radio, the most popular philosophical podcast on the Internet, and a Top 10 Finalist in the 2007 Podcast Awards.  He is the author of Universally Preferable Behavior: A Rational Proof of Secular Ethics, On Truth: The Tyranny of Illusion, and the novel The God of Atheists.


livefreeretiree's picture

This is probably the clearest and most easily understandable argument against Ron Paul and minarchism I have ever read, perhaps besides John Puglsey's Open Letter to Harry Browne (

Well done, Stef.

Samarami's picture

I had watched and listened to Molyneux's video of this article some time ago, but was not aware of it in essay. Thanks to Stefan for this timely work. I have children and grandchildren beating the bush for Ron Paul, and this helps me to explain to them why I cannot join in their enthusiasm for his "campaign". I love them and do "grandpa duty" regularly while Mom, Dad and older grandkids (they have 9 children) are on the campaign trail for Dr Paul.

And thanks, Vahram, for posting the link to John Pugsley's "Open Letter to Harry Browne". Pugsley also wrote The Alpha Strategy (pdf), available online for free -- a worthwhile read.

I was a kid not long home from Korea when I was exposed to Harry Brown's "How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World", written around 1971. I had traveled the roads and cow paths of Texas in ardent support of Barry Goldwater for "potus" in the summer of 1964 on summer break from teaching. Totally disillusioned with politics after his sound defeat to Lyndon Johnson, I never again registered or voted -- 48 years now (I'm 75). That was the last year for the poll tax in Texas.

That experience also introduced me to the grave compromise in basic principles that must be met if one wants to fool with the evils of politics. As Stefan outlined, you have to accept a few lynchings to succeed in politics for "high office" (or any government "office").

So I try not to come down too hard on my sons and their families in their promotion of Dr Paul for "Grand Wizard" (I haven't used that epithet with family, but may soon give it a try -- gently).

Analogies such as Molyneux's help to plant seeds.



livefreeretiree's picture

John Pugsley was a dear friend and mentor to me until he died about 6 months ago. Knowing him changed my life. "The Alpha Strategy" was one of the first things I ever read that started turning me onto the paradigm of liberty. He was a good teacher and a great man, I wrote this tribute to him the morning that he died:

Samarami's picture

That was a nice tribute to John Pugsley.

From "The Alpha Strategy", Ch 3:

    The Early Embezzlers

    Tribal chiefs and kings discovered early in history that there were great advantages to controlling the issuance of money. They started by minting the money metals into coins, usually stamped with their own likenesses.* Ostensibly, this was the king's guarantee that there was a certain amount of gold or silver in the coin. In practice, the politicians soon found a way to turn a profit from the business.

    First, they profited from "seniorage," a price charged for minting the raw metals into coin form. This was a very small percentage, though, usually not much more than the actual costs involved in the minting operation. The real profits came from debasement or clipping. After years of use, individuals would begin to trust these government coins, accepting them as being of a certain weight and fineness without weighing
    them. Anytime the king could not raise enough taxes to finance his wars or his preferred standard of living, he would tamper with the coinage. As the coins came through the royal treasury, he would secretly file a bit of the metal off each coin and then pass the coins off again at full value, while taking the filings and minting
    a few new coins. The crafty monarch might also issue new coins in which the gold or silver was alloyed with cheaper metals. Some resorted to "clad" or "sandwich" coins, in which they plated cheaper metals with gold or silver to simulate the real thing. Or again, a kind might simply issue new coins of smaller size, while calling them by the same name as the older, larger coins.

    In all cases the supply of gold or silver in circulation remained the same but the supply of coins increased. The king, being the first user of the new coins, gained by the amount of real goods those new coins bought. The public, however, now had fewer goods but more coins. The result was an increase in the supply of coins that eventually led to a lower value for each coin. In other words, rising prices. The king
    was a thief.

John had the capability to put the whole story of monetary skulduggery that has resulted in the economic "crises" from time immemorial until right here, right now.

* Sam's Note: This was going on as early as 30AD as evidenced by a famous story among religious types in a Hebrew Book that has maintained all-time best seller status in religious "nations" ["render unto Caesar", Hebrew "Bible", Book of Luke, Ch 20, vs 22-25], and undoubtedly had its beginning many centuries prior to that.