IN DEFENSE OF WHITE-TRASH CLEANUP

KKK is runt of the litter, but the state must not censor its garbage

It is a slippery slope that poses far greater danger than a couple of irritating highway signs.

But what of the notion, raised by MoDOT supporters, that the state is in effect being forced to "endorse" the Klan by erecting a taxpayer-funded sign crediting it for good citizenship along the interstate?

"I don't think allowing people to participate in this program is an endorsement, but if it is, look at all the people government is endorsing," Herman says. "Is it endorsing Cowboys for Christ and all the churches and political groups who take part? Is it endorsing Harry Eggleston's eye clinic? Is it endorsing KMOV-TV? They've all got signs."

Herman is right, but he's also a Jewish guy giving an anti-Semitic group much better representation than it deserves. So the obvious question:

"Is this any kind of job for a nice Jewish boy?"

Turns out, that's the title of his standard speech.

"Here's how I explain it to people at my temple," Herman told me. "What if someone in government said, "Well, we don't like Jews very much, and after all they did kill Christ, so we're not going to allow your temple or any temple or any other Jewish group to adopt a highway.' Wouldn't you be outraged?

"We fight these battles on the extreme boundaries so we don't have to fight them for ourselves, closer to home."

Herman admits that he "hates the Klan's ideas. After all, I think they want people like me to go back to Israel just like they want blacks to go back to Africa." But he says that putting up a sign with the Klan's name on it is an opportunity to discuss the need for racial tolerance and that censorship isn't going to make the Klan's bad ideas go away:

"Democracy is not painless. The discomfort we feel at seeing the Klan represented as part of the program is the price we pay for our own freedom."

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