The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 70, July 1966 - April, 1967 Page: 522
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
was not notably racist, whatever may have been true elsewhere.
But this is less extenuating than might appear, for obviously
Klansmen did not need to waste efforts intimidating Negroes in
a region where no serious challenge to white supremacy was
made. Neither was the Southwestern Klan conspicuously anti-
Semitic. In fact, contends the author, nativist sentiment played
only a secondary role in the spread of the Klan over Texas,
Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Instead, the chief motiva-
tion that led Southwesterners to join the Klan was their desire
to preserve traditional rural morality. Moral authoritarianism,
Alexander maintains, constituted the key to the rise of the Klan in
the Southwest. It was commonly thought that behavior or opinion
divergent from the norm must be coerced. Respectable South-
westerners were irked by what they regarded as lax law enforce-
ment and slow judicial procedures. Bootlegging, adultery, pros-
titution, abortion, gambling-such offenses often aroused the
Klansman's hooded wrath. In its rather narrow moralism the
Southwestern Klan appears to have been closely tied to the
Protestant churches and to some fraternal orders, a circumstance
that led a Southwestern journalist to remark some years ago
that the Klan was simply the "fun-making, social side of the
Masons." Thus regarded as a moral censor, the Klan cannot be
considered aberrant, but only a manifestation of one of America's
oldest and most persistent traits, and one that certainly has not yet
disappeared from the states this study covers.
The author disputes, too, the frequently made assertion that
the Klan was primarily a rural, small-town movement. Only in
the Northeast, he says, is that generalization valid. In the South-
west, on the other hand, the Klan flourished in such growing
cities as Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and Dallas. One might sug-
gest, though, that some Southwestern urban centers, despite
their growing population, retained a rural quality quite in-
consistent with their size. They were and long remained in
certain important respects more like small country towns than
In every Southwestern state the Klan soon entered politics,
in Oklahoma with such effect as to bring state government near
collapse by 1923. Its early political triumphs were rarely repeated
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 70, July 1966 - April, 1967, periodical, 1967; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101199/m1/550/: accessed October 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.