This story was written by Paul P. Quinn, Daily Mississippian
The general reaction of most University of Mississippi students concerning the possibility of the Ku Klux Klan arriving on the campus during the festivities surrounding the 2008 presidential debate seems laced with cynicism.
But considering student cynicism, the Southern Poverty Law Center an organization that follows the activities of hate groups estimated there are approximately three to 12 people per every one of the nine chapters of the Mississippi White Knights.
The law centers chief investigator Joe Roy said when the Knights release their numbers, they are usually very inflated.
Roy admitted it was hard to estimate exactly how many Knights there are in the country because the organizations are typically secretive about their numbers.
Our best guess is 45,000 card-carrying KKK members nationwide, Roy said, a statistic amounting to approximately 0.013 percent of the U.S. population.
Most of the white supremacy groups are in the Midwest and North, Roy said, adding that many white supremacy groups are involved in hate crimes but are not charged as such because hate crimes are often reported as regular assault.
Black Student Union president Brittany Smith does not think the appearance of the Klan will make a significant impact on the university the day of the debate.
Theyre not going to change peoples minds, Smith said. I dont think it matters.
If anything, the Knights are trying to get media attention from the debate, Roy said.
Smith also said she was not concerned at all about their arrival and stressed that the university has come a long way since 1962 when James Meredith led the movement of integration at Ole Miss.
University social integration programs like One Mississippi and the BSU have helped the campus move forward from our past, Smith said.
I think both white and black students are against (the KKK) coming, Smith said. Im not afraid of anything. They have the freedom to come here.
After The Daily Mississippian released a statement from the emperor of the Mississippi White Knights confirming the presence of the Klan at the debate, the emperor agreed to an interview.
White Knights will have officers and Klansmen on hand for the presidential debate on Sept. 26, 2008, the emperors statement said.
Our people will be in Oxford and on the campus invisible.'
That means our people wont be in regalia or demonstrating. So, I guess youll just have to guess which of the people present are Klansmen, The Daily Mississippian reported on Friday, Sept. 12.
Dean of Students Sparky Reardon declined to comment about the Klans possible arrival because of the cryptic nature of the message.
The emperor only spoke with the agreement that his name would not appear in The Daily Mississippian.
He said his group is a pro-white organization that operates in secrecy, but they would not be violent when they come to Oxford. Also, the group is going to be invisible because they want people in Oxford during the debate to wonder if they are talking to someone in the KKK, he added.
The emperor was vocal concerning the possibility of 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama being elected.
His election would bring disaster to America, the emporer said, adding he would never vote for a black man for president.
Regardless of political party affiliation, he said he would vote for himself before voting for a black man, simply based on his pro-white stance./p>
The U.S. Secret Service will operate a protest area on the band practice field on the day of the debate.
Groups such as Save Darfur and those supporting AIDS awareness will be at the university to voice their opinions, which are motivated by the exposure of 3,000 journalists who will be on campus.