This showed up in my news feed this morning. I've looked at it a few times, and shared it with several other folks.
On one hand, I find the subject matter horrifying. I admit, I'm pretty darn smug about the fact that I live in a community that ran the klan out years ago. (I complain and sniff at the culinary offerings . . . but being klan free is pretty impressive.)
But, when I think about the defensiveness the subjects must feel coupled with the candidness of the photos, I'm curious. The photographer must be a truly interesting person, to gain (and keep) the trust of his subjects.
Also, I see real poverty in the pictures. I can't help but wonder if the photographer intentionally selected impoverished members . . . to garner sympathy from the viewer? To add a layer of pity? To establish a greater void between the viewer and the subjects?
I remember, years ago, a friend/counselor telling me that people act when they believe there is a benefit to the action. And, it makes sense . . . even with mean or irrational or immoral behavior, the actor must believe that there is a personal benefit or that their actions are the wiser/more beneficial of their choices. Which makes me wonder what benefit members of the klan believe they are gaining from being a member of a hate group? Is it group identity? Is it feeling connected to something rather than nothing? Does it stave off loneliness? Or, is there solidarity in creating a sense of superiority?
But, then again, why do any of us do the crazy, inexplicable, or irrational things we do?