Back in the early 80’s, when I was 17, I was driving to a local park with an African American friend of mine to go swimming. To get to this park, you had to go miles down this rural road to its very end, then come to a stop at a T junction and make your turn. Normally this wasn’t a big deal, but on this day it was about to get nasty.
Let me set the scene: Small town Florida, where racism was not only commonplace, but rather militant; where it was still acceptable to mention that you were a member of the KKK in the high school yearbook, amongst your other affiliations, such as the pep club. And we were on a stretch of road where my friend had once been shot in the face with a bb gun by a total stranger. The fact that we were even in the same car together raised eyebrows.
And as we approached that T junction, we saw a hooded member of the KKK handing out flyers to everyone who stopped at the stop sign.
“Oh, shit, I’m dead,” my friend said. I knew what she meant. This is a small town, and she’d be recognized. They may not take kindly to her being in my car. They’d know where she lived.
“Hold on tight!” I said, and went off the road, straight at the guy. (I wouldn’t have hit him, but he didn’t know that.) He threw his pointy-headed self headlong into the kudzu. He was too busy picking palm fronds out of his teeth to recognize anyone as we sped off.
I have to say, that was one of the proudest moments of my life.
So, when I read an article that said a group that calls itself Anonymous is planning to reveal the name of about 1,000 Ku Klux Klan members, I was thrilled. Yes, there’s freedom of speech in this country, even for hateful KKK speech, but you shouldn’t have a right to hide. If it’s your conviction, this hatred of yours, then own it. If you know you have something to be ashamed of, maybe you should rethink your philosophy.
Anonymous is apparently a group of hackers that are currently targeting the KKK, but in the past they’ve also targeted Scientology, the Westboro Baptist Church, and child pornography rings, so I consider them the good guys. I’d love it if they outed the KKK.
But here’s where it gets uncomfortable. If I don’t think the KKK should be allowed anonymity, then in all fairness, this group Anonymous shouldn’t be, well… anonymous either. Here’s the thing about facelessness: it brings out the worst in people. While this group is currently doing things that I happen to adore, it wouldn’t be hard at all for them to turn to the dark side. That’s what scares me.
So yes, Anonymous, please do shine a light on those KKK cockroaches. But lift up your figurative hoods as well. That way we can all shake your hands. And keep you honest.