Here is the abstract from the new Roland Fryer and Steve Levitt paper:
The Ku Klux Klan reached its heyday in the mid-1920s, claiming millions
of members. In this paper, we analyze the 1920s Klan, those who joined
it, and the social and political impact that it had. We utilize a wide
range of newly discovered data sources including information from Klan
membership roles, applications, robe-order forms, an internal audit of
the Klan by Ernst and Ernst, and a census that the Klan conducted after
an internal scandal. Combining these sources with data from the 1920
and 1930 U.S. Censuses, we find that individuals who joined the Klan
were better educated and more likely to hold professional jobs than the
typical American. Surprisingly, we find few tangible social or
political impacts of the Klan. There is little evidence that the Klan
had an effect on black or foreign born residential mobility, or on
lynching patterns. Historians have argued that the Klan was successful
in getting candidates they favored elected. Statistical analysis,
however, suggests that any direct impact of the Klan was likely to be
small. Furthermore, those who were elected had little discernible
effect on legislation passed. Rather than a terrorist organization, the
1920s Klan is best described as a social organization built through a
wildly successful pyramid scheme fueled by an army of
highly-incentivized sales agents selling hatred, religious intolerance,
and fraternity in a time and place where there was tremendous demand.
I find this interpretation plausible; for many (evil) people, evil is downright fun, especially if you are bored in the first place. Both Donnie Brasco and The Sopranos capture aspects of this equation.
Google does not generate a non-gated version, let us know in the comments if I missed one.