In April, 2014, my wife and I took our children to a wonderful antique advertising show at a fancy resort in the upscale suburban community of St. Charles, Illinois. My daughter loved the beautiful old jukeboxes. My son (and my good friend, Tom) could not get enough of the fantastic restored pinball machines. And while neither Tom nor I were sure we liked seeing things we grew up with being considered antiques, we had a great time. If had and extra $8,000 to spare, I know my son would have loved for me to have bought the ultra-cool “Rocky And Bullwinkle” pinball machine! The show was large and really fun. Until Tom took me aside and whispered in my ear, “I didn’t want the kids to see this, but you won’t believe what I found.”
He showed me this:
An authentic Ku Klux Klan robe for sale. I stared at it in stunned disbelief. Who would want to own such a grotesque piece of terrorism? Would people think it appropriate to bid on the robes Osama bin Laden was wearing? Would you be excited to bid on a brick from the ovens at Auschwitz? Would you want to own a piece of clothing worn by a racist murderer? Why? Tom’s wife, Mary, who has a great eye for detail, pointed out to me what appeared to be faded blood stains on the sleeve. They were right above the neat little sign
that told you that this item could be yours for just $900.
Should People Collect Ku Klux Klan Memorabilia?
On the one hand, it is a free country and if collecting terrorism items is your thing, I suppose you have the right. I don’t understand why Ku Klux Klan memorabilia would appeal to anyone. I would have no problem with a museum displaying Ku Klux Klan memorabilia if they included explanatory signage about how the war on terrorism in America focused on the Klan. But to own it for pleasure or sell it for profit? Turns my stomach.
Consider: if the stains on the sleeve were blood, then the last thing some innocent person saw before he was murdered was this robe. And it can be yours for only $900.
If a relative of yours was murdered for any reason, let alone the color of their skin, would you hope some entrepreneur, like the seller at the St. Charles show, could at least make a profit off it? If you lost someone on 9-11, or in one of the mass shootings that have plagued our country from Newtown to Aurora to Virginia Tech, would you feel good about folks making money off your loss?
I did not talk to the seller. I did not ask him if he felt good about buying Ku Klux Klan memorabilia and then selling it for a profit. I didn’t ask him if collected other terrorist memorabilia. I honestly did not want to look him in the eye. I just walked away and, before I rejoined my children, I said a prayer for everyone murdered by the Ku Klux Klan.