HBO’s Boardwalk Empire started its second season last night. Fans of this terrific series were plunged once again into the 1920s world of gunrunners, bootleggers, and . . . the Ku Klux Klan?
Wait a second . . . the KKK? I didn’t think I could be shocked watching TV anymore — particularly on HBO — but seeing white-sheeted KKK members in full uniform shocked me. I was shocked when I saw KKK members using a machine gun to mow down members of Chalky White’s bootleg operation in cold blood, and I was shocked again when Klansmen, in their hoods and robes, were shown chatting without embarrassment in full public view on the porch of a funeral home. The Klan made a brief appearance last year — when Chalky White, played with seething magnificence by Michael Kenneth Williams, memorably used his father’s tools to interrogate a Klansman — but it looks like they will have a more prominent role this season.
The KKK was part of the dark and grotesque underside of America of the 1920s, and showing the role of the Klan, in all its violent, racist ignorance, therefore is just part of presenting an honest depiction of that era. However, it disgusts and embarrasses me to the core to see the members of that hated organization shown on TV. It hurts to be reminded of the craven and unforgivable acts of the KKK and those who tolerated its madness and lawlessness.
I’m not asking anyone to sanitize the ugly racist underbelly of America in the 1920s, but I’m hoping for some discretion on the part of Boardwalk Empire‘s creators. I just hate seeing those despised hooded figures.