or Ku Klux Klan
is most well known as a group of white men
who march around having parades and who hate
", burn crosses
The organization started around the time of the American Civil War, kind of as a social club of bored civil war veterans. The white gowns and ranks in the order were chosen mostly for fun and to make things silly and fun. They would ride through town and have bizzare initiation rites.
They began with what would amount to pranks. A more well known one was riding up to a black family's house, in full KKK dress and asking for water. Draining the water, by the bucketfull into a hidden tube under their gown, and then thanking them saying they hadn't had a drink since they died at Battle of Shiloh and riding off into the night.
In the summer of 1867 the Klan offically adopted the doctrine of white supremacy and truly began to get violent. The klan then dissapeared by the end of 1869.
The Klan had a huge revival in the early 1900's, just after WWI. While they are widely known for hatred of blacks, less known is that they also hate Jews and Catholics, they are also anti-immigrant- all around a very American institution.
From their own litterature, the cross burning is not meant as a desecration, but is called the lighting of the cross and suposedly follows after an old Scottish tradition. Suposedly it represents light and truth.
They often run into legal battles over whether they can hold parades in certain cities and towns. This often results in them being defended by the ACLU, who defend the KKK's rights to freedom of speech even though their speech is in complete opposition to what the ACLU (see note below) itself stands for.
I have been informed that local ACLU chapters choose who they represent, and so to say that the ACLU as a whole organization is perhaps not entirely correct. I am not sure how much I care so much, Its not exactly a black mark on the ACLU as much as an amusing note about how far they go to protect the Freedom of Speech from well meaning, but potentially dangerous transgressions