CNN and Ku Klux Klan Leader Vindicate Hank Aaron of Racism

The internet is having a good bit of fun at the expense of a CNN article that explores the possibility of “rebranding” the Ku Klux Klan. According to CNN’s experts, the answer is no (have they tried “No, No, Wait, We Just Really, Really Love Potassium”?), but buried in Ashley Fantz’s report is a quote from Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard Frank Ancona that would appear to vindicate home run king and Atlanta Braves Senior Vice President Hank Aaron of the charges of racism that were recently leveled at him by conservatives.

The absurd, glib premise is based on several Klan leaders’ denunciations of last weekend’s shooting at a Jewish community center in Kansas, which, in and of themselves, ought to answer the question before it’s even asked. Pro tip: if the reason you’re upset about three people being murdered is that it’s making your white power organization look bad, don’t say that out loud:

The carnage was devastating to many. Imperial Wizard Frank Ancona was upset, too.

“What this guy just did set back everything I’ve been trying to do for years,” said Ancona, who leads the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

But one thing that Ancona told CNN stood out. Hank Aaron endured accusations of racism and racist hate mail over comments he made on the anniversary of his record-breaking 715th home run. After making an observation about unyielding Republican opposition to President Obama, Aaron also made this observation:

“We have moved in the right direction, and there have been improvements, but we still have a long ways to go in the country.

“The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.”

This prompted conservatives to write Aaron off as a “racist,” and presumably to swear off Hank Aaron pajamas as magical get-out-of-racism-free card. Never mind that Aaron’s thought about the Klan was separate from his remark about Republicans (although many outlets edited his quote to obscure that fact), or that Republican isn’t even a race (unless this is their acknowledgement that they are, in fact, a white organization), and that lying in order to attack a hero who withstood blistering racism on his own is, actually, kinda racist. Doesn’t it matter whether or not Hank’s statement was true? According to Acuna, it is. Here’s what he told CNN (emphasis mine):

“I believe in racial separation but it doesn’t have to be violent,” he told CNN. “People in the Klan are professional people, business people, working types. We are a legitimate organization.”

I mean, he would know, right? Sounds like a certain swath of the media (rhymes with “white ring”) owes Mr. Aaron an apology. As it stands, though, the right-wing media has called Hank Aaron a racist, and has not called Imperial Wizard Acuna a racist.