“I think Donald Trump would be best for the job,” Billy Snuffer, the Imperial Wizard of the Rebel Brigade Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in central Virginia, told Richmond’s NBC12. “The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes in, we believe in. We want our country to be safe.”
The Imperial Wizard also noted that he supports Trump’s call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, according to the NBC12 report that posted late last week.
“If Donald Trump dropped out tomorrow I would support [John] Kasich before I would Ted Cruz because he is not an American citizen,” the KKK Wizard continued. “Even if I agree with some of the things that Ted Cruz says, I would not support him because he was born in Canada. He is not an American citizen.”
In the time since the segment aired, both Cruz and Kasich dropped out of the presidential race, leaving Trump —who already has a bevy of white-supremacist, white-nationalist, and neo-Nazi followers in this country—as the presumptive Republican nominee.
But high-ranking members of the Virginia KKK outfit aren’t pleased with the Richmond NBC affiliate’s report, which was filed by anchor Chris Thomas, a young black man. The group’s Grand Dragon (the Imperial Wizard’s lieutenant who declined to give his name), told The Daily Beast that the station had erroneously—and libelously —reported that the Rebel Brigade Knights and their leader had “endorsed” Trump for president.
The 5-minute televised report and accompanying online article do not state that the Klansman “endorsed” the real-estate mogul; merely that the Imperial Wizard said he’d be “best” fit for the presidential gig. (However, pieces published at other news outlets linking to the NBC12 story defined it as an endorsement.)
“We knew what would happen—what the liberal media always does,” the (anonymous) Grand Dragon told The Daily Beast, before decrying “political correctness” in America and reiterating that Trump would be “best.” He alleged that the journalists selectively edited the long interview to make them look as loathsome and bigoted as possible.
“They wanted to make us seem as racist as [they] could,” the Dragon said.
The NBC affiliate seemed unfazed by the KKK’s media criticism. “We feel our story was fair and speaks for itself,” NBC12 told The Daily Beast in a brief statement.
It’s not all that surprising that these modern-day Klansmen would want to market themselves as less “racist” and not as “white supremacists,” per se. Today’s Klan is trying to move past its abominable history of domestic terrorism, racist carnage, rape, far-right propaganda, lynching, and attacking African-Americans and minorities, and present a kinder, gentler, ostensibly non-violent facade—billing themselves as “white separatists” instead of white supremacists, for instance.
It is a more politically correct KKK, if you will.
“Neo-Nazis and skinheads are socialist. We are not socialist,” the Imperial Wizard told NBC12. “We are not white supremacists. We are white separatists … A lot of people, as soon as they hear the words ‘Ku Klux Klan,’ their mind automatically goes back to the ’50s and ’60s. It was a pretty bad time, but… we are living in a different century now.”
And it isn’t shocking that these men have found someone they see as a mainstream political ally in Trump, who found himself at the center of controversy once again in February when he did not swiftly condemn former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke during an interview on CNN. Duke had recently announced his support for Trump’s candidacy, and said that white “European-Americans” who weren’t voting for Trump were committing “treason to [their] heritage.”
Nowadays in central Virginia, the local Klansmen are engaging in a recruitment push, going door to door passing out fliers that read, “I Want You For The KKK.” It is their latest attempt to find new converts to their cause — one they believe lines up fairly well with Trump’s.