Spoken Word with Electronics is an audio series delivering to you a two side recording of unusual stories paired with vintage modular electronic sounds
Hi, everyone, welcome back to the show. This week, it's impossible to not discuss White Nationalism (or my joke for it: "What" Nationalism) – And during this week celebrating MLK Day, I feel inclined to talk about the formative role of the KKK on my mind, growing up as a goth/punk in Denver in the 1990s. The short version of this is "hate has happened before", it will get bad, AND it will go away again. I say this because my parents had their experiences with hate in the 40s and 60s, it went away, then I had my experiences in the 90s and it went away. It's always here, just less represented through position. So it's a less urgent worry about this current strain of the problem. The Feds are clearly on it, too. "What Nationalism" and "What Power" is Fucked.
Contrarians will disagree and say NOPE, this is the worst the White Nationalist threat has ever been. But I'll say that's a narrow view of a longer running problem in the country. I actually was in a race riot in Denver in 1992, and that's what this episode will discuss.
My view is more of a Comic-Con one. We've always had hateful unhappy people who find "what power" through acting up in Nazi Cosplay. But even if this month's insurrection looked awful and horrifying, it compares very little to the Klan's uprising in power in the 1990s, including its own Hitler Youth component of occupying high schools and turning football players and other students into KKK recruiters. I refer to this article as an example. I was a part of the counterculture of Denver in my teens and we all knew many people who were in the KKK, we knew them from home room and we knew girls who dated them. This was the basic state of punk at the time. Skinheads and anti-racists all went to the same dance clubs, music stores, and coffee shops. And so when a riot happened in Denver on January 20 1992, I unsurprisingly recognized a bunch of the KKK supporters on the Capitol Steps as people in the punk community. It was a terribly depressing day, chronicled here, and in video:
Of course, Hate did not win out in time. Other punks fought back against the KKK violently, and Klan connections to Denver's punk and goth community was largely a shameful secret. Most people didn't tolerate hate in any way, but my highschool years, age 14-18, was one when nearly everyone knew at least one KKK member or someone dating a skinhead, or some other dismal bullshit. I guess you could call them Klansboys, more accurately. Or Aryan Doof. And most of them grew out of it. But I don't believe the same can be said now with What Nationalism. The Klan was far more ubiquitous. Perhaps discussing the Klan of the 1990s is a useful way to prevent this current problem from expanding into worse territory, too.
This is not saying punks and KKK are the same thing, it's more complicated. But here's a piece on the problem in the 1990s, presented optimistically about the problem of today. And an excitement about a new Administration in Washington in less than a week. Thank the lord.
Thanks and have a good week – Ethan