“What we did in Iowa to chase away the Klan”
“The movement to make racism “respectable” again in the era after the civil rights movement’s victories began much earlier than people generally think.
During the late 1970s, Democratic President Jimmy Carter spoke against school busing programs designed to give African American children access to better schools, saying that they undermined the “ethnic purity” of neighborhoods.
Such attitudes among liberals like Carter contributed to the nasty battles over desegregation in Boston and other cities…
The Midwest Network was organized around the idea that the Klan and similar groups had to be confronted publicly, whenever and wherever they tried to organize open events.
The goal was always to turn out the greatest number of anti-racists possible, outnumber the racists, shout them down and show that anti-racist ideas were far more popular than racist ideas…
the organizing work of the past months had mobilized a unified group of nearly 600 people — from Dubuque, across Iowa and around the Midwest — who were ready to shout down the racists. “A few minutes before 6 p.m.,” Socialist Worker reported in its June 1992 edition, “the counterdemonstrators marched to Washington Park chanting ‘Kan the Klan,’ ‘Black and white, unite and fight’ and ‘You can’t hide behind free speech when it’s genocide you preach.’”
Fifteen Klan members, dressed in robes and hoods, showed up late to their own event. They ended their rally close to an hour earlier than planned since they couldn’t hear themselves spew their hate.
Demoralized, the Klan left Dubuque and even announced that they wouldn’t be attempting to recruit in Dubuque in the near future…
While not all the counterprotests were as successful as Dubuque, the Midwest Network’s principle of confronting hate with the largest numbers possible did almost always turn out the large numbers and demoralize the right. In fact, Klan marches planned for Cicero and Skokie, Illinois, later in the decade would be canceled shortly after the Midwest Network announced it was organizing a counterdemonstration.”