The series aims to provide an intimate glimpse into some of America’s worst people who make up the membership of the country’s oldest hate group, as well as their families with in depth looks at some of the highest ranking Klan members and their families.
Social media reaction has already been mixed-to-negative on the idea, with many expressing fears that the show will end up normalizing members of the terrorist group the Anti-Defamation league calls “a racist, anti-Semitic movement” dedicated to “white supremacy” that has seen a resurgence in activity in recent years exploiting issues like “gay marriage, perceived “assaults” on Christianity, crime and especially immigration.” Those fears are further amplified because of the role the alt-right, and other vaguely self-identifying white nationalists played in the still-contentious 2016 election and the victory of Donald Trump in the electoral college. Notably, former Klan leader David Duke has openly touted Trump as a friend to the cause of white nationalism.
However, A&E for its part is aware of the risk, with the network’s General Manager Rob Sharenow telling the New York Times “we certainly didn’t want the show to be seen as a platform for the views of the KKK… The only political agenda is that we really do stand against hate.”
The show, from filmmaker Aengus James, known for the TLC show I Am Jazz about transgender teenager Jazz Jennings, aims to show the Klan at the base level, focusing on the Imperial Wizard of the North Mississippi White Knights; Chris Buckley, a Grand Knighthawk with the North Georgia White Knights; and Richard Nichols, the Grand Dragon in the Tennessee Knights of the Invisible Empire; and in addition, their families.
James tells NYT that “We had a stance, and we were clear with folks that we were hoping for them to see the light and to come out of this world. It’s an incredibly destructive environment for anybody to be in, let alone children.” As such, they brought in anti-hate activists Daryle Lamont Jenkins, Arno Michaelis and Bryon Widner in, so they say, an attempt to persuade people into leaving the movement.