Since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality last year, there have been a number of “religious freedom” laws pushed in conservative states across the country. These laws have been intended to comfort right-wing bigots and defy the federal government.
Georgia is the most recent state to advance such legislation. A bill headed to Governor Nathan Deal’s desk would allow organizations funded by the government to discriminate against the LGBT community and others and say that their actions are protected as “religious freedom.”
The questioning became very awkward when a liberal lawmaker asked the bill’s sponsor if the KKK could claim religious freedom under the law.
Via Right Wing Watch:
“I guess they could,” Kirk answered, adding, “I don’t know what would stop them.”
When Jones asked Kirk if that seemed like a problem to him, Kirk responded that it did not because the bill “certainly isn’t directed” at the KKK.
Kirk then compared the KKK to Beyoncé’s “tribute to the Black Panthers” at the Super Bowl, saying that the Black Panthers would also be protected under the legislation. (Source)
The comparison of Black Panthers to the KKK is indicative of the conservative ignorance towards America’s history. The Black Panthers, despite their vilification in the media, were founded in response to systemic racism and right-wing hatred after the Civil Rights Act was signed. Most members of the original Black Panthers want political representation for African-Americans and equality in our society, and they don’t have the history of violence or intimidation that the KKK does.
On the flip side, the KKK and organizations like it were formed to restore white supremacy over black Americans after the Civil War and during Reconstruction. These groups regularly lynched blacks and people who tried to help them, erected monuments that stand today in memory of the lost cause of slavery, and pushed laws in favor of segregation.
The KKK and religious conservatives continue to espouse these ideologies even to this day. They aren’t going away either. Currently, hate groups continue to recruit and lobby for legalized discrimination and promote anti-government rhetoric in the name of personal liberty and patriotism.
Right-wing conservatives claim to be a threatened class, but the Constitution gives them all of the rights that they try to take away from anyone who doesn’t share their bigoted beliefs – and this is what is happening again in Georgia.