If I were addicted to predictions, I would be strongly tempted to make the following prognostication:
The Ku Klux Klan within a very few months will sprout into one of the most flourishing and respected business and political organizations in the United States.
This dizzy prophecy would be based on the information contained in yesterday’s edition of this newspaper which told of plans the bed-sheet moguls were making for a nation-wide reorganization of the outfit. The purpose of the reorganization, it was announced from Atlanta, Georgia, where once upon a time every peach blossom hid a kleagle, was to launch a tremendous campaign against “Un-Americanism and Communism.”
That in itself, however, gave the reader no sensational peek into the Klan’s future. What did set the reader back on his O’Sullivans and leave him gasping for ozone was the following significant tid-bits:
“Jews and Catholics included,” read the invitation to all Americans to join the holy crusade.
“No religious or racial prejudice will be connected with our new program,” one of the Klan bigwigs promised.
It’s just three months from today. The scene is the Empire State Building, which several weeks ago was taken over by the Ku Klux Klan. In the lobby a huge cross, lit by Neon gas to simulate the klan’s flaming symbol, is surrounded by a crowd of curious.
On the Empire State’s directory is a strange sign. On examination it proves to read, “Alfred E. Smith, Imperial Wizard, Ku Klux Klan.”
Immediately underneath is a sign only slightly less strange and, three months ago, it would have been completely incredible. This one bears the name of Henry Morgenthau Jr. The legend underneath his name is not Secretary of the Treasury. It is Assistant to the Imperial Wizard.
It seems that Mr. Morgenthau, shortly after the historic announcement was made that the bed-sheets of the Klan had been enlarged so as to cover both Jews and Catholics as well as Protestants, resigned his Treasury job. A man of vision, like the Day Book columnist, Morgenthau saw that the Klan was destined for big things, so he hitched his wagon to the bed-sheet star along with the former New York State governor.
The Day Book columnist, not very much surprised at all these changes in the Empire State Building, since he was the first to predict them, pushed his way through the crowd that was congesting the lobby and made for the elevators.
In the elevator, which was operated by a white-robed klelevator boy, I bumped into Governor Herbert H. Lehman.
“Et tu, Herbert?” I queried, with uplifted eyebrow.
“Certainly,” he said with one of his most gracious smiles. “The ‘street’ is all washed up. So is Albany. (And isn’t it about time Albany got a bath, I said to myself.) So why shouldn’t I try to get in on this business. Al promised to get me in on the ground floor.”
“By the way,” the Governor turned to me, lifting his own eyebrow in reprisal, “what brings you here?”
Without hesitation your Day Booker confessed that he was on his way up to file application for membership.
“Is that all?” the Governor persisted.
“No, that isn’t all,” I admitted, weakening under his steady stare. “My real purpose,” I told the Governor,” is to buttonhole Imperial Wizard Smith for a job. I want to study under the Klan’s publicity director. I’ll work for nothing. All I want is the privilege of learning the great profession of publicity at the feet of the man who conceived the idea of ringing Jews and Catholics in on the Klan.
“And, just to keep the breath of life in my gasping lungs, all I ask is to be given the bed-sheet concession for Washington Heights and the Bronx and the East Side and Borough Park and Brownsville and Tenth avenue.” H. W.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.