A voyage into hate groups reveals a lonely existence for those who support all things white.

My Secret Life in the Klan 

A voyage into hate groups reveals a lonely existence for those who support all things white.

Page 6 of 9

His parents disapprove of his views. His mother runs a home business and has a commercial-grade copy machine. When his parents aren't home, he sneaks into the house to run off a batch of fliers. Sometimes he goes into clothing stores and slips them into the pockets of jeans. Sometimes he staples them to telephone poles. Above all, he uses the Pitch. And he is sure the editors are conspiring with anti-defamation associations and lawyers to get him. It was as if he imagined himself as a lone force of good against a massive race-mixing conspiracy headed by my employer.

The waitress brought us a third round, and I realized that I was getting a little tipsy. It could be tricky if he started asking questions about me, and I needed to control the conversation. I asked him about his brother. As he explained, I watched him pay the $12 check, and when he told her to keep the $3 in change, I was surprised that he would leave a tip.

He described his brother: "He's always telling me to watch it. Sometimes I wear a wife-beater at work, and you can see these." He lifted his sleeve to expose a swastika made of bloody scythes tattooed on his arm, along with an iron cross. He pulled down his shirt, and I saw what looked like random slashes tattooed across his collarbone. "That's druidic rune for Aryan. He thinks it's better if I don't show it off too much at work. I'm always getting in people's faces, though. I argue about stuff a lot."

"You need to learn to keep your mouth shut," I said. "It's going to get you in trouble someday." Trentadue called me the first week of August to ask if I wanted to distribute fliers. His parents had recently been out of the house long enough for him to use the copier. He'd made 150 fliers, half of them about the murder and the rest promoting a presidential candidate for the Knights Party. I was at his curb at 7 p.m.

Trentadue lived in a duplex on a cul-de-sac. I parked around the corner from his address so he wouldn't see the license plate. I was halfway across the street before I remembered to run back and tear the Pitch employee parking tag off the rearview mirror.

There was no way to tell that Trentadue's half of the house was home to the family of a white supremacist; there were no swastikas on the windows, no portrait of Hitler in colored chalk on the sidewalk. The only sign of children was the miniature basketball hoop in the driveway. I rang the bell.

Trentadue had shaved his head since our meeting at Buffalo Wild Wings, and the tattoos on his scalp were now visible. His parents had taken the kids for the evening, and his wife was at work.

He shook my hand, and I followed him inside. There were no Nazi flags on the walls. It was the underwhelming house of any parent of two on the lower end of the economic scale. Stacks of paper stood askew. I could smell the earthy odor that so often accompanies young children, signaling chaos kept only just at bay.

"What size shirt are you?" he asked. "I've got a couple of spare Klan shirts, and I thought you might like them."

He handed me the shirts. One was a white sweatshirt with a Klansman and a Christmas tree and the slogan "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas." The other featured a Knight reared back on a horse. I remembered my Klan training video: Always wear something over your Klan wear when you go to work or out in public. It's better to keep a low profile.

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