Editorial: How to deprive the KKK of exactly what it wants in Huntington Beach

If the Ku Klux Klan does plant its white supremacist flag in the seemingly fertile ground of Huntington Beach this weekend, let’s not have a repeat of the 2016 Klan rally in Anaheim that erupted into violence. Three people were injured and 13 were arrested, resulting in an ugly debate about who was worse, the racists or their opponents who engaged in the fracas.

Fliers with KKK propaganda promising a “White Lives Do Matter” rally in Huntington Beach on Sunday were delivered to households there and in neighboring Newport Beach. But despite the county’s history of racism, the white supremacists planning this rally are trying to appeal to an Orange County long gone. That’s not to say there aren’t pockets of racial animus or openly racist organizations there, but Orange County isn’t a hotbed of such groups.

Given that reality, the KKK won’t be playing to its base Sunday so much as bidding for attention — and trouble — by rousing the same crowds of counter-protesters that it did five years ago.

Their justified anger aside, the counter-protesters in 2016 were perceived as precipitating much of the violence. That gave the white supremacist movement exactly what it wanted while gaining nothing for the anti-racist cause.

Yet ignoring the protests isn’t the answer. Ugly movements grow in darkness, and the people who promote disgusting ideas and rhetoric shouldn’t do so without real opposition.

We can fight racism effectively by using a different space and different tactics, educating the public and supporting marginalized groups in practical, everyday ways, and backing up words with action.

For example, the founder of Black Lives Matter Huntington Beach is organizing a counterdemonstration to start two hours earlier than the white supremacist rally. It would have been better to choose a different location, too, and avoid the possibility that people will hang around and get involved in a violent confrontation at the Klan rally. Regardless, the Huntington Beach council members who passed an anti-racist resolution in reaction to the KKK plans should join the counter-demonstration and put their presence where it counts.

Several other councils in Orange County passed similar resolutions. But they should back them up by holding anti-racism activities for the public, making efforts to reach out to non-English-speaking populations with multilingual services, and especially making those groups feel comfortable filing police reports. To that end, the city of Santa Ana has decided to post monthly reports about hate crimes on its police website to keep residents informed.

The people of Orange County — and everywhere else — can make Sunday’s rally a loss for the KKK by donating to anti-racist groups in “dishonor” of white supremacists in their midst. For a list of possible groups to support, go to the OC Human Relations website. And while you’re there, check out the suggestions for further actions you can take to hobble white supremacists’ ability to foment trouble.

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