But thanks to A&E, it might get one anyway.
The channel says its new series, “Generation KKK,” will be a “documentary series” resembling Live PD and Born This Way. But a New York Times report foreshadows some major issues with the concept:
The setup is warm and fuzzy. “Girls, I got y’all some gifts,” says Steven Howard, presenting his two young daughters with prettily wrapped packages, which they eagerly rip into. The cameras then reveal what’s inside: the distinctive pointed hoods of the Ku Klux Klan.
“Giving my girls my legacy,” Mr. Howard says as he helps place them on their heads.
Aengus James, who produces the series, told the Times that filmmakers sought to depict “struggles with the internal families,” and don’t intend for it to function as a platform for the KKK. The KKK, however, will almost certainly see it that way: A&E has offered them a prime opportunity to emerge from the shadows and promote their views to a new audience. In a Trump era of growing hate crime rates, that’s a spectacularly dangerous programming decision.
The show has a particularly troubling plotline too: It’s going to follow two KKK members as they attempt to recruit their young children. One child is only four—and the series has effectively ensured he’ll be publicly branded with his father’s racism no matter what path he chooses as an adult.
A&E’s record does not exactly inspire confidence in its ability to produce the sort of hard-hitting, critical treatment this subject deserves. This is the same channel that refused to jettison Duck Dynasty after its bearded patriarch informed GQ that before Jim Crow, “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. ... They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word! ... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
There’s value in covering the KKK and other white-nationalist groups. People should know who they are and what they believe. But broadcasting their recruitment techniques—and exploiting children in the process—isn’t the way to educate anyone.