The normalization of white supremacist groups and the hatred they spout is well underway, and it seems equally predictable and horrifying that the network would want to lean into that, given the hate group’s legacy of murdering and terrorizing black people. Of course, A&E doesn’t see it that way. The network’s general manager Rob Sharenow told the New York Times, “We certainly didn’t want the show to be seen as a platform for the views of the KKK…The only political agenda is that we really do stand against hate.”
According to an executive producer on the show, who also worked on I Am Jazz, TLC’s show about 14-year-old transgender girl Jazz Jennings, the producers were clear with their subjects about their opposition to the KKK. But I’m going to put this out there and say that the chances of KKK members thinking twice about their worldview and their actions as a result of this show is far smaller than a television audience rabidly watching KKK members, perhaps not seeing them as a terrifying hate group but as humanized subjects for entertainment. Giving people platforms and hoping they will embarrass themselves out of existence doesn’t work.
Naturally, the internet swiftly called out A&E en masse: