The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World: Klan Takes on Westboro Gay-Bashers

By Ryan Lenz on May 31, 2011 - 12:37 pm, Posted in Anti-LGBT, Klan

It’s a new and twisted world when the Ku Klux Klan takes on the Westboro Baptist Church, the famously rabid anti-gay group founded by Fred Phelps in Topeka, Kan. Needless to say, most Klan groups despise gays and lesbians only slightly less than black and Jewish people.

But over Memorial Day weekend, about 10 members of a tiny Powhatan Va.-based Klan group called the Knights of the Southern Cross Soldiers of the Ku Klux Klan joined a counterprotest against Phelps’ church held by about 70 people waving pro-U.S. signs. Like the other counter-protesters who came to denounce the Westboro hate group, the Klan tried to screen funeral services being held at Arlington National Cemetery from the “God Hates Fags” signs that have come to define the Phelps family and its church. Phelps claims that U.S. soldiers are being killed by a God angered at America’s “fag-enabling” ways.

Dennis LaBonte, the self-described imperial wizard or national leader of the Klan group, said the Phelps family should understand that it is the military that protects free speech rights — the very rights preserved by the U.S. Supreme Court in ruling in March that found the Westboro protests were protected speech. “It’s the soldier that fought and died and gave them that right,” LaBonte said.

Since 2005, the Phelps family has maintained that picketing military funerals is justified because God is punishing the nation for tolerating homosexuality. The Phelpses also have claimed that God chose to use improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, to kill soldiers because the church’s Topeka compound was once bombed with a similar device. “God is visiting the sins upon America by killing their kids with IEDs … and the more the merrier,” church founder Fred Phelps once said.

Abigail Phelps, one of Phelps’ daughters who was at the protest, told CNN that the nation it should not “idolize” the dead, especially those who died for an “unrighteous cause.” As for Klan members joining the protest against Westboro and its message, Phelps said, in one of the few statements from her congregation that most Americans would agree with, “They have no moral authority on anything.”

  • Pickwick

    Jon Stewart is right: We’re living in a freak show!

  • Beverly Kurtin

    As a “straight” woman who has a brain in her head, I cannot for an instant understand the motivation of hate groups who hate gays. A friend of mine had gender reassignment surgery several years ago. She had to chuckle when a psychologist asked her why she wanted to be a woman. She told him that she DIDN’T want to be a woman but that she WAS a woman and would kill in order to remain a male, but didn’t have the foggiest idea of what a man was or how they functioned. She had been, as a man, a highly paid voice over artist and having to present herself as a woman would kill that career. She also told me that she had noticed how men take for granted that if two women are talking, men have no compunction about butting into the conversation because women couldn’t possibly be talking about anything important. She admitted she would miss the respect she commanded as a man but would lose as a woman. But for every single moment she could recall, she felt that she had been born in the wrong body. She is very feminine and as a natural born woman I saw what she meant. I’ve had men just start talking when I was talking with another woman. They wouldn’t DARE try that with another man. As things stood, I happened to be the idiot’s boss and the other woman and I were discussing scheduling details. He wound up losing his day hours and I reassigned him to nights. But prior to taking with my friend, I’d never noticed how men do that to women. Most women, myself included, have not the beginning of an understanding of how men function and I’ve had many men tell me that they couldn’t figure out how women think. Now that friend of mine WAS a woman, no doubt about it. She was born with men’s equipment but she felt it didn’t belong on her. Gay men and women are BORN the way they are. Discriminating against them makes as much sense as lambasting a cat because it was born a cat and not a dog. It is 2011; how many more centuries will it take for idiots to understand that choice never enters into the equation? I was born a female and LOVE being one, I’d never consider wanting to be a man, nor have I ever met a man who wanted to be a woman. But here is a little exercise I’d like everyone who is reading this to try. You go to sleep tonight as the man or woman you are. Tomorrow morning you wake up in the body of the opposite sex. What would your reaction be? Could you just accept that you were a woman instead of a man or vice-versa? Or would you do what some innocent people suffer with all of their lives? I’m a man trapped in a woman’s body or I’m a woman trapped in a man’s body. Would you try to change back? You bet your bippy you would. Don’t hate anyone and you will be 100% correct.

  • Jody A nn Malsbury

    People’s weaknesses tend to destroy them. Maybe the hate groups’ hate and insatiable thirst for power and control will lead to them to focusing their hate on on each and will lead to mutual self-destruction.

    Well, I can hope, can’t I?

  • EarleyDaysYet

    In agreement with @Stephen D. Calhoun: I call them “serial cause-ists” – people who don’t necessarily care about the issue at hand but will passionately and loudly and fervently defend it. You see it in people who can’t let go of the drama of being loudly RIGHT and so dive into the next cause and the next and the next… The only difference here is that some serial cause-ists have discovered (or been born into) groups that are ALL drama, ALL passion, all the time. It’s the difference between being a generically violent nutter, and being a football hooligan – same underlying need for fighting/random acts of violence, but the hooligans have found a tribe setting in which to formalise those tendencies.

  • Tacitus ibn Batutta Zhang

    Legalhound asks, “When the Klan and Westboro Protest Each Other Who Do You Cheer For ?”
    I say: Cheer for the Constitution, the A.C.L.U., and the S.P.L.C.!!!

  • Karen, a tired old lesbian

    Fred Phelps is not a civil rights attorney. He was an attorney, long ago, but was disbarred by the state of Kansas. He’s nothing but a hateful, mixed up old man. His “church” is his family.

  • Stephen D. Calhoun

    Sometimes I think that the motive of hate groups is to have disputes more than anything else. It is not the topic of the dispute that is important; it is their need to create disputes. It is the reason I do not take allow them to bait me into an argument.

  • legalhound

    The only reason that the Klan has confronted Westboro is because of the events Westboro has chosen to protest. It’s all about the soldiers. The Klan has always romanticized war, and portrayed themselves as a patriotic organization (how else could they have duped Quakers into joining them in the period between WWI and WWII?). Phelps is now messing with that by showing up at funerals with ” Thank God for Dead Soldiers” signs. Both of them are hateful and more and more often they show themselves to be crazy.
    The one thing we can be thankful for in all of this was some interesting headlines and articles that helped to put things in perspective for people who don’t read blogs. “Battle of the Hate Groups” and “When the Klan and Westboro Protest Each Other Who Do You Cheer For ?” those were a couple of the best ones out there.

  • justin

    Fred my have been a civil rights attorney but only because he saw a veritable gold mine in the blatant violations at the time. He cares about as much for american blacks as he does anybody else: not at all.

  • B.B.

    That the Klan doesn’t like the Phelps family is hardly surprising. Fred Phelps is a tireless advocate for the civil rights of blacks:
    He launched Westboro in 1955 after he and Margie moved to Topeka; in 1962, he earned a law degree from nearby Washburn University. That’s when this icon of religious intolerance became a civil rights attorney. “I systematically brought down the Jim Crow laws of this town,” he says. While this is clearly an overstatement, local officials confirm that he approached this earlier cause with customary zeal.

    Phelps sees no difference between the cause he stood for then and the one he stands for now. Today, he says, the increasing acceptance of gays in America reflects a growing immorality to which much of society is turning a blind eye, just as it once did to racial discrimination. And considering how unpopular his cause as a civil rights attorney must have been in Kansas in the early 1960s, it’s not surprising Phelps would link the two.

    One of Fred Phelps’ children also adopted a black kid, Daniel Phelps.

  • Linnea

    Talk about surreal.

  • Concerned Citizen

    On the one hand. This could be laughable, but it is not. One could also with a grain of salt. Neither side are LGBT friendly. Let them fight among themselves.