What I found more intriguing were the ethnographers, who were baffled by the living, breathing Klan members. These ethnographers found that Klansmen and Klanswomen seemed like “good” or “decent” folks. Even as Klan members defended racism, they seemed “nice,” polite even. In these earlier studies of white supremacists, a lingering question was: How could Klan members seem to be nice, decent folks while also being white supremacists?The first time I noticed an ethnographer’s shock and confusion over nice white supremacists, I thought it was a fluke. But after I read the performed shock and confusion again and again, I began to wonder what the hell was going on. The juxtaposition between decency and white supremacy was frankly bizarre. It was almost as if these ethnographers imagined that white supremacists would be just like their pop culture counterparts: ignorant, aggressive, mean, and oh-so-easily-identifiable with swastika tattoos and Klan robes peaking out of their closets. Pop culture obscures the heartbreaking ordinariness of member of white supremacist organizations. They look like other white people. They speak like other white people. They act like other white people.
-Kelly J. Baker
Source: Nice, decent folks – Cold Takes