Even though it invited negroes and Jews to join it, the Ku Klux Klan has just received a severe setback in two major attempts to gain political control of great population centers outside its main field of influence in the middle west and south. A week ago, Klan leaders, in their pre-election prophecies, were exultantly claiming Detroit and Buffalo as their own. Now press dispatches indicate that the anti-Klan candidates have been elected in both cities, although in each case the margin of victory was slim enough to show that the Klan's power over the more hysterical voters is still to be reckoned with very seriously.
The Klan seems to have been taking a leaf out of Mussolini's book, inspired by the sight of how completely II Bonito controls his excitable peninsula; and its failure to obtain its objectives may be accounted for by the inability of Americans to do things as dramatically as Italians. The ground was prepared well. Many Americans are convinced that our national institutions are gravely threatened, and many more feel the childish thrill of joining with an organization dealing in large popular movements. The American public is as susceptible as any other to political charlatanism. The Klan uniform is much more sanitary and fully as picturesque as a black shirt Yet--all of the invisible Empire's stage effects have fallen through, because the audience was unappreciative.
The Klan, however, is just beginning. Politics for several years to come will probably be shot through with the Klan issue. All the wiser for this set-back, the Klan will be even more skilful in the future; and the country will do well to keep the example of Facismo in mind, with all its attendant phenomena of press censorship, interference with local authority, and rule by a bigoted and militant minority.