Analysis Of Backfire By David Chalmers

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David Chalmers is a University of Florida professor emeritus of history. He is best known for his seminal work on the Ku Klux Klan, Hooded Americanism, that was first published in 1968. In 2003 Chalmers wrote Backfire: How the Ku Klux Klan Helped the Civil Rights Movement. As the subtitle indicates, this more recent work of Chalmers’ is about how the activities of the civil rights era Klan prompted the federal government to pass laws that protected the civil rights of African-Americans. “Klan violence played an important role in the passage of the 1964 Public Accommodation Law and the 1965 Voting Rights Law. Klan violence in Mississippi forced the Johnson administration to turn to a reluctant FBI into an effective Klan-fighting force…” Furthermore, Chalmers updated his previous work on the Klan through Backfire. He tells three stories in the process of relaying this information. His four points or stories are the rise and …show more content…

The very specific purpose that is clearly outlined the subtitle is at times at odds with the “four stories” Chalmers tells in the bulk of the text. However, within the structure of the four stories Chalmers clearly describes how the Klan became its own worst enemy and despite their intended purposes helped civil rights legislation pass at the federal level. This was due to Klan’s “traditional cultural” predisposition towards violence. Their taste for violence clashed with “the changing world of the 1960s, doing what Klansmen liked to do best helped bring about federal intervention , new national civil rights laws, trials in less sympathetic federal courts, and, eventually, guilty verdicts from local juries.” This is the essence of Chalmers work in Backfire. Local juries were not convicting Klansmen for their violence against civil rights workers and non-violent protesters, so the federal government felt compelled to step in as negative publicity became national

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