There was considerable reader response from all sides — the Ku Klux Klan included — to this newspaper’s recent coverage surrounding hate-filled KKK recruitment fliers dropped on doorsteps from Sperryville to Flint Hill.
One county resident wrote, albeit not for publication: “It is in the left’s interest to promote white supremacy incessantly. Why waste your time here other than to excite Rapp’s liberals?”
Another writer, in a published letter to the editor, argued that the KKK relies on media-generated publicity, and therefore this newspaper should have ignored the leaflet drops and not played into their racist hands.
“But this was indeed news,” another reader responded. “When was the last time someone littered miles of our county’s highways and the county seat with anti-Semitic leaflets? The very nature of this action was ‘newsworthy’ and something that the whole community should be aware of . . . [and] it is important to know that they are operating in the neighborhood, if for no other reason than to let them know that we can literally get along just fine without them.”
That writer, former U.S. congressman Ben Jones, concluded: “The KKK appeals to the very worst in people. Their dark ‘truth’ cannot stand up to the light of exposure. I might be wrong on this, but I believe that shining more light on this kind of bigotry is our best weapon against it. In the words of FDR, ‘we have nothing to fear but fear itself.’”
A similar aphorism, by statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke, was posted on Facebook a few days before Christmas by my cousin, Buckley Kuhn-Fricker: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
She and her husband Scott did something, and hours later they were murdered in their pajamas by their 16-year-old daughter’s KKK-infested boyfriend.
A skilled lawyer and loving mother, Buckley had recently discovered the boyfriend’s disturbing white supremacy ramblings — writings and internet postings derogatory of Jews and other minorities and calling for a white revolution — and she and Scott quickly intervened with their young daughter to end the relationship.
Buckley didn’t stop there. She spent what would be her final hours of life sounding the alarm throughout their Reston community and beyond (sadly, it now seems, those closest to the 17-year “outspoken neo-Nazi” had ignored the many warning signs he put out there for all to see).
Here in Rappahannock it was Kit Goldfarb who sounded the alarm on the heels of the KKK’s speedy yet strategic “drive-by,” organizing a spontaneous gathering of concerned citizens in the county seat.
“We want to show that our community supports all of our residents . . . and that the community is coming together on that,” she explained to an unexpectedly large crowd, which included numerous local members of the clergy. “And we also want to make sure that people feel safe here. So that people know that their friends are behind them, that the county is behind them.”
Goldfarb, who is Jewish, then helped distribute dozens of “Hate Has No Home Here” signs, allowing neighbors to declare their homes, businesses, schools and places of worship as safe havens, where everybody is welcome and valued. These same signs are now prominently displayed throughout Rappahannock County, especially in the villages like Sperryville.
And one, fittingly, is now in front of Buckley’s home, delivering a message that she no longer can.
The writer, John McCaslin, is editor of the Rappahannock News