Under the Hood
I have never been so moved by a Pitch article. I am still shaking from reading it over lunch. Peter Rugg is very brave to have gone undercover to expose such wrong, strange and scary people. I am encouraged to learn that there are not many of these guys out there but am disturbed to know there are any. Thanks to Rugg and his editors for taking the risk.
Jason Butcher, Olathe
Peter Rugg's portrait of KKK underthugs like Trentadue and Turk makes me wish all hate groups were so underwhelming, nerdy and ineffectual. Rugg says local KKK numbers are low. How low? Did you investigate? Did you pursue any other angles or leads? If you're gonna get into Lou Grant mode, go whole-hog with it. Stapling a few pamphlets does not an undercover reporter make.
A character study is fine, but the cover hints at more than what was actually delivered. Like the previous week's Prospect vignettes ("Let's Go Prospecting," September 20), you keep offering the hint of substance without really investigating what's behind the premise. It's like hinting at the unexpurgated history of David Koresh or Jim Jones and getting Jerry Lewis.
Melina Neet, Kansas City, Missouri
Thank you very much. I'm half-Filipino and half-white, so my father is constantly worried about me. I lived in Gardner for seven years and still drive there every day in between college and work.
I thought my father was just being overprotective of his little girl. However, as he and I were walking on the Plaza, I picked up the Pitch because of the headline. (Anyone who walked by that attention-getter and didn't pick it up is too confident and oblivious to reality.) I read it aloud to my father. When Peter Rugg mentioned how predominant the Klan is in Olathe, our jaws dropped. I mean, I eat at that Buffalo Wild Wings!
I even see racism within some of my friends. They just toss the words nigger and wetback around as if they were saying the word like. When I ask them why they speak like that, their response is simply, "Oh, come on. It's just a word." It's crazy how they don't see the impact of what that word means.
Thanks again. It means a lot to me and my family.
Donella dela Pasion, Olathe
I quickly snatched the Pitch off its stand today. I was a little anxious as I set it down on the table with my chai tea. The past few weeks, I have read and listened to the events going on in Jena, Louisiana. So I figured, why not read this, too?
I have witnessed the hatred of us blacks for the 34 years of my existence. I have encountered KKK members in my jobs. I have learned to deal with the sickening feeling when I come up against these people. I have quietly dealt with the customer who's on the phone at my salon saying she doesn't want that "colored" girl doing her hair. I have also tried to convince my friends who are nonblack or non-Hispanic that racism still exists today. It's hard for them to see when they are not the recipient.
I almost hate to say it, but thank you. Now I have some proof that the anxiety I have felt is not unfounded. I am anxious for a reason. There has not been a noose placed outside my school, and nobody has burned a cross on my lawn, but that's just not what racism is. It is a complex mix of white people who hold their pride for their race so deeply that they would use anything and any means to create a world of just them.
I wonder when the day will come when my greatest of fears comes true and no longer will it just be a rude word on the phone but the violence that they are known for to affect me and my family. It only takes one explosion of racial tension for me to be the recipient of their hatred.
Starla Carr, GrandviewFeature: The Search for the Garden of Eden, September 6
I read Justin Kendall's article twice (in awe and amusement). I grew up in Independence. I was Methodist and attended church right around the corner from the Mormon Center.
I was always confused by the LDS and RLDS; I understood they both thought Jackson County was going to be Zion. I remember my parents always telling me which parcels of land were owned by the RLDS in preparation for the Zion thing. I thought the whole thing was freakish then and still do. I remember our minister giving a sermon one morning and joking that the RLDS were told there was some good news and some bad news. The good news? That Christ has returned. The bad news? He landed in Salt Lake City. That got a laugh.
My 15-year-old daughter and I are convinced that if Christ returns to Independence, he will land on top of the spiral temple, put his arms above his head, and ride the spiral down like a slide all the while yelling "Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!" Didn't Elder Poll say, "I think the Lord likes to have fun and such"?
Nancy Noland, LeawoodCorrection: Last weeks Best of Kansas City edition listed an incorrect name and address for the shopping center landmarked by a covered wagon at Westport Road and Southwest Trafficway. The center is officially named the Old Westport Shopping Center, and its located at 1010 Westport Road.