Last Sunday, the world was appalled to hear that the Ku Klux Klan had set a 20-year-old black woman on fire. Sharmeka Moffitt claimed that three attackers wearing white hoods had doused her with a flammable liquid, then set her alight as she was jogging through a park in Winsboro, Louisiana, before spray-painting "KKK" and a "racial slur" on her car.
When police arrived on the scene, they found Moffitt had suffered third-degree burns to more than half her body. The FBI immediately started investigating it as a hate crime and the internet went crazy discussing why the KKK would carry out such an attack. Everyone else wondered aloud how the KKK still thought it was OK to pull shit like this.
One theory doing the rounds was that the attack was simply an attempt to prompt a series of major race riots, "just like the British government did last year in the UK." However, after DNA found on the scene drew analysts to conclude that the messages on the car had been written by Moffitt herself (in toothpaste) they worked out that—for whatever unexplained reason—she'd also covered herself in petrol and set herself on fire. i.e. SHE FAKED THE WHOLE THING.
It's still unclear why she would inflict such terrible injuries upon herself. Depression? An extreme cry for help? An attempt at martyrdom? Whatever the reason, it's given the KKK an excuse to play victim for once. I looked up the Klan's PR number on their website and called them to see if they're worried that the attack might sully their good name.
Thomas Robb, national director of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, with his family.
VICE: Hey, am I talking to the Klan?
Thomas Robb: You’re through to the KKK, yes, and you're talking to Thomas Robb.
Cool—hi, Thomas. I was wondering if you’ve heard about the fake KKK attack in Louisiana?
Yeah, that’s just an attempt to damage the image of the Klan. I guess that’s what makes the Klan community somewhat angry from time to time. People say the Klan is committing violence, but they’re not committing violence. Imagine being accused of being violent the whole time when you're not violent; you'd get tired of it.
The Klan is well-known to have committed horrible acts of violence in the past, though.
You'd have to go back 40 years to find the last time the Klan committed violence. Individuals in every social and religious group commit violence all the time, but the group isn't responsible for the violence committed by the individual.
Does the Klan advocate violence?
No, not at all. We couldn’t have a website if we advocated violence. You can’t go on the internet and file an application for a website for the mob, the Bloods, or the Crips. The fact that we have a website shows that we don’t advocate violence.
If this was intended as a demonstration against the Klan, are you worried that there might be copycat fake attacks in the future?
That happens quite regularly already.
Usually they're cross lightings—someone sets a cross on fire outside a black person's home or writes KKK, or something like that. Although, 90 percent of the time they aren’t affiliated with the Klan. People do it to themselves to perpetrate their own suffering and persecution.
This case was a lot more extreme than burning a cross, though. Surely this kind of thing doesn’t happen all the time?
Yeah, she went to the extreme, for sure. Obviously she needs some help. But for some black politician to fake an attack on his house—that’s not unusual.
Obviously being accused of something you didn’t do is pretty shitty, but don't you think people might have limited sympathy for you due to your extreme political views?
We don’t have extreme political views. I don’t much like Obama, but I don’t like Romney either. Our biggest concern is the genocide of white people. We’re going to be less than 50 percent of the population by 2042. European countries are facing the same thing. Now, you’re not from America, are you?
No, I'm Irish.
Well, Ireland and the other European countries are facing the same thing.
I really don’t believe that white people are facing genocide in Ireland, Europe, or anywhere else.
Well, those are your beliefs, but they aren’t the facts...
[It was here that I ended the conversation. Arguing about racism with a Klan member over a long-distance phone line is like trying to convince an atheist that Richard Dawkins doesn't know absolutely everything—impossible and very boring, basically.]
So should we feel sorry for the KKK? Considering they were accused of a crime they didn't commit; yeah, I suppose so. But, regardless of whether they set Sharmeeka Moffitt on fire or not, they're still horrible racists with a history entrenched in bigotry and hate, so no—fuck 'em. Obviously.
Follow Matthew on Twitter: @matthewfrancey
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