3Wade Watts Takes on the Klan With the Magic of Friendship
Topical Press Agency / Stringer / Getty
Reverend Wade Watts was a representative of the NAACP in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when he did a radio debate with Grand Dragon of the KKK John Lee Clary in 1976. After Watts threw his opponent off his game with the novel tactic of telling him that he wouldn't hate him, Clary insisted to Watts that he'd made a personal enemy, although Watts didn't seem to agree.
"Look, can't we just try to see eye to eye here? Oh ... right ... never mind."
Clary's Klansmen started off small: They burned a cross on Watts' lawn. Watts' response to the sight of a bunch of costumed men making death threats was to point out to them that Halloween wasn't for a few more months and to leave it at that. Their next attempt to scare him was to burn down his church. When Clary called him up to rub the threat in over the phone, the first thing Watts said was "Hello, Johnny" (we like to think Clary must have said "Uh, hi" in response).
The final stroke was when Clary saw Watts in a restaurant eating chicken. He got together a group of 30 Klansmen and surrounded him. Then Clary told Watts that he and his buddies would do to Watts what Watts was doing to that chicken he was eating. Knowing a good setup when he heard it, Watts took the bit of chicken and gently kissed it.
Then he kissed it again, and things started to get kinda weird.
There are a lot of places the story could go from there -- maybe Clary flies into a rage and starts a riot, or quietly plans to destroy Watts behind the scenes. Instead, the Klansman Clary slowly started to realize that maybe he and his white-robed peers were the bad guys.
FMH Children's International
Good guys are less prone to posing with brass knuckles and daggers.
So in 1981, Clary left the Klan. And, when being a former Grand Dragon hurt his career prospects like hell, he eventually decided to call up Watts. Watts offered to let him come speak at his church (against his own congregation's wishes), saying, "You know where it is, you burned it."
Clary ended up becoming a preacher at that very institution, and one day used his Klan robe to shine a black man's shoes on national television. Clary also started a program that helped former anti-racial-group members start anew after leaving their organizations. It just goes to show that while it sure helps to have (figurative) balls in the face of violence, having a heart is important, too.
Find A Grave
2World War II Conscientious Objectors Find (Insane) Ways to Get in on the Action
Keystone-France / Getty
During World War II, American support for the war was through the roof (well, after Pearl Harbor, anyway). At the same time, a relatively new designation for citizens called "conscientious objectors" was coming into being. Some people who were strongly opposed to Axis powers taking lives naturally had an aversion to themselves taking lives, and they refused to fight.
"I'll pee on Hitler's shoes, but that's it."
Since Nazis weren't going to kill themselves, these objectors were not exactly highly thought of. It was very easy to see "conscientious objector" as a fancy term for "coward" in the eyes of those who saw the war as our only chance to stop world domination at the hands of psychotic supervillains. But the COs weren't just going to sit that shit out -- they found other ways to contribute that wound up putting their lives on the line. For instance, 500 of them volunteered for a vital mission: human experimentation.
For the men who'd rather shoot up unpatented drugs than shoot Nazis.
We aren't talking your typical "three of you take this placebo while three of you take this other thing that may give you an upset stomach" experiments. We're talking shit intended to find out what kills people in wartime conditions. We're talking being exposed to extreme heights, food deprivation, and life-threatening weather conditions. Many of these COs were injected with malaria, pneumonia, hepatitis, typhus, and other diseases that, in previous wars, took more lives than bullets. Some were covered with lice and sprayed with DDT.
But the ones who arguably had it the worst were the 36 COs who agreed to be starved nearly to death. Meaning they got half the minimum rations needed to sustain a human life while being expected to continue regular activities. The results of what these people allowed to be done to themselves were significant enough to influence the Marshall Plan, the program by which the nations devastated by the war were repaired.
The American Friends Service Committee
We're assuming Captain America fits in around this point.
So, yeah, these guys proved that being a conscientious objector wasn't about fearing for their own safety -- they appeared to not give a shit about that. They just wanted to be nuts in a way that didn't kill anybody else.