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ADL Told Kkk’s Southern Membership Reaches Peak, Birch Group Shifts Toward Race Issues

The Ku Klux Klan has reached a record Southern membership peak of 55,000, and the John Birch Society has turned to the racial issue as a more effective way to gain members than the Viet Nam war, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith reported today at the ADL’s three-day executive committee meeting here.

The Klan membership is the highest since the end of World War II, the ADL reported, adding that Klan attitudes “have been absorbed by large sections of the Southern community.” Citing present Birch Society membership as around 75,000, the report said that the society was beginning a major recruiting drive based on “exploitation of deep-seated grass roots prejudice against Negroes,” The reports were based on studies made by the ADL’s 22 regional offices.

Dore Schary, ADL national chairman, told the executive committee that the American Negro community should no more be condemned for actions of its extremists than the total white community should be condemned for the actions of the Klan or the American Nazi Party. He cited the recent meeting in Chicago of the National Conference of New Politics at which delegates forced through a resolution condemning Israel for the Six-Day War last June. He also referred to an anti-Israel attack by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in a newsletter. He warned, however, that though Negro extremists were a minority “they have gained an audience and made an impact, both of which can grow.”

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