Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

by Father Tom Caswell, for the Inland Register

(From the Feb. 4, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)

Recently discovered document chronicles KKK speech in Walla Walla (Part II)

(As stated in the last issue of the Inland Register, an unidentified person took down word-for-word a speech by the Deputy Grand Lecturer of the Western Domain of the Ku Klux Klan on April 27,1922 in Walla Walla. We continue where we left off in the last issue of the Inland Register.)

The speaker attacks the Knights of Columbus for receiving from the United States government 36 million dollars for assistance in providing social centers for the troops at the front in World War I. The money he states was given in taxes mainly by Protestants. He says that the Masonic organization was not allowed to go to the front and give assistance. The speaker does not point out that the YMCA had long been given money to help troops and that a Jewish organization also was given financial assistance to help the troops. These three groups served as a form of what became the USO of World War II and later wars. (For more information see Christopher J. Kauffman’s Faith and Fraternalism: The History of the Knights of Columbus 1882-1982 published by Harper and Row in 1982.)

What follows is a continuation of direct quotations from the speaker.

• Page 17: “Again, Ladies and gentlemen, do you think it is mere coincidence growing out of their better qualifications, that about 75 percent of the offices in this country both elective and appointed are being held by members of that organization tonight, the Knights of Columbus ...”

• Page 18: “Now friends, the statistics of this country show that our fellow Catholic citizens have about twelve percent of the population of this country, and that the twelve percent have managed to get away with most of the positions in the country worth getting away with, because the political parties of this country have been divided almost equally and have been searching for their support. Now ladies and gentlemen, Americans, don’t you think whether you are Catholic or Protestant, do you think that is fair. Don’t you think it is time that the 12 percent tail in this country ceased to wag the 88 percent dog? (Applause)”

• Page 22: “In fact my friends, I came to your beautiful city two days ago; I approached it from down here at the railroad station, up this beautiful main street of yours. I wasn’t met by a band, the Grand Goblin of this order wasn’t met by a band down there at the station; we didn’t expect it; we wasn’t (sic) met by the Chief of Police to haul us uptown in a limosouine (sic), either or anything like that. But as I came up here to your beautiful courthouse I noticed a statue there on the corner, and I wonder what kind of people must live in your community, anyhow. And there we have in evidence the same kind of an organization that comes and asks a certain percentage of deputies.”

• Page 23: “Now Columbus is an interesting character in the history of the world, as an explorer and discoverer although he wasn’t the discoverer of America. Don’t forget that. History has exploded that old myth a long time ago. He was one of the discoverers of part of America who discovered an Island over in the Bahamas. Now Columbus as a public figure is interesting in this great continent and in the world, but there was no excuse except the well known modesty of this famous organization that he should have a cross on the front of his statue; and as I looked around at the names on the back of it I wondered if this were an American town or whether I hadn’t landed in Italy. I am glad that monument is there; it is a beautiful piece of work, but is a monument to something else besides Columbus, it is the monument to the only organization of a so-called religious nature in this country which butts into all the affairs of everyday life.”

• Page 23: “Now friends and fellow citizens, no matter if you may be followers of that creed, no matter if you may try to follow the leadership of those who take their religion from the Pope, and take their politics from their own country, no matter if you may be some of that class, and you have some finely trained, intelligent ladies and gentlemen who follow that branch of that great faith; but really, if you are a follower of that great faith, don’t you think the time has come to lay down the political part of it and come into these great organizations like this and try and be a real American? (Applause) It will not only be doing you good, but you will be doing a service to your country; it wouldn’t only be doing a service to your country, but you could look your protestant neighbors in the face with a friendly smile that amounts to a great deal more than the smile which was give him (sic) by the kind of an organization which has been asking all the offices in the country and causing church monuments to be put in a courthouse square.”

The speaker ends with a flourish, wrapping himself in the line of Washington and Lincoln and those that died in Flanders’ field and in France in World War I. His last sentence is, “We are going to say that the white man’s civilization must be and shall be preserved. I thank you.”

In the next issue there will be remarks by the Grand Goblin given that same night.

(Father Caswell is Inland Register archivist and Ecumenical Relations Officer for the Diocese of Spokane.)

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