The Ku Klux Klan Started Out as Something Like a Dorky Frat House
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The Ku Klux Klan is a racist institution that drastically overestimates the intimidation factor of alliteration.
Membership in the KKK carries with it a hierarchy of titles that sound like they were pulled from a Dungeons & Dragons game -- the faction leader is known as the Grand Wizard, and below them are Scribes, Sentinels, Hydras, and Goblins. That's because the grand tradition of the Klan, despite its current incarnation as a hate group with violent tendencies, started out as a social club full of huge nerds.
Except nobody wanted to be the Black Mage.
Founded at the end of the Civil War by six former confederate officers, the KKK was originally just a basic frat house complete with dumb hazing rituals and idiotic titles. The name was selected almost at random, from the Greek "kuklos" meaning "circle," and the English "klan" meaning, "What's another word for 'group'? Spelling is not important."
Originally, their modus operandi was to cloak themselves in sheets, get drunk, and ride around Tennessee on horseback, pretending to be ghosts. Subtract the alcohol, and the Klan started out the same way as most grade-school slumber parties.
Playing truth-or-dare with them rarely ended well.
Just like today, any time people see a strange fad sweeping the nation, they assume it's terrifying rather than just kind of dumb. Since a considerable number of the Klan's new members were dyed-in-the-wool racists already, they decided to take advantage of their new fear factor and scare some black folks. Eventually, that escalated from "racially targeted pranks" to "hanging is a sort of prank, right?"
For more crazy pasts, check out 6 Global Corporations Started by Their Founder's Shitty Luck and 6 Organizations You Didn't Know Were Secretly Badass.
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