Scotland and the Klan
Originally aired by the BBC – 2016
Scotland has exported many great things to the rest of the world, and people like Neil Oliver have often celebrated the disproportionate impact of its ideas and energy on places like America. The role of Scots in shaping the concept of the American Dream is a story often told, but could Scottish settlers have also had a hand in America’s racist nightmare?
Neil Oliver travels over 2,000 miles to examine links between racism today in the Deep South and the Scottish settlers that first occupied it. Throughout the 18th century, hundreds of thousands of Scots emigrated to America, and some believe that it was their wariness and moral certainty that significantly shaped the south into an isolated, fearful society that easily took to slave-owning when the opportunity came.
Walter Scott, the creator of a romantic vision of the ‘Old Country’ is blamed for reinforcing their fantasy world of Georgian gentility. When that world was threatened, the southern states opted for civil war rather than give it up. After the devastating war, attitudes in the south were hardened by defeat and fear of the now-freed slaves. When six Scottish-American former Confederate officers formed a fraternal society, clan turned to Klan.
The oldest and most feared racist hate group in America – the Ku Klux Klan – was born. Now, well over 800 hate groups stalk the United States, and Neil finishes his journey by visiting the Neo-Confederate League of the South. The League advocates a return to a separate southern society run by what they call ‘Anglo Celts’, and Neil discovers that here Scottish-ness still abides and that attitudes don’t seem to have changed much in the last 200-300 years.
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