- Ten Dollars to Hate: The Texas Man Who Fought the Klan by Patricia Bernstein
Patricia Bernstein offers an interesting if not unproblematic addition to the burgeoning literature on the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s. The first of the book's avowed goals is to redress public "ignorance" of the existence of the second Klan by focusing specifically on the Klan in Texas (p. ix). The book's second goal is somewhat more provocative. Bernstein explicitly hopes to "revive and celebrate" Dan Moody, "a long-forgotten American hero" and the subject of Ten Dollars to Hate: The Texas Man Who Fought the Klan (p. xi).
Marking a significant divergence from recent literature on the Klan, Bernstein's book is primarily concerned with the second Klan as an agent of violence. Opening with the abduction and flogging of Ralph Waldo Burleson, the book centers on whippings and beatings that were, per Bernstein, exceptional even by the standards of "Texans accustomed to casual and sometimes [End Page 203] terrible violence" (p. 64). There is an argument to be made that this is a necessary corrective to relatively bloodless analyses of the Klan as a social and fraternal organization. But Bernstein risks swinging the pendulum too far. Drawing largely on contemporary newspaper reports rather than on the kinds of Klan archival records of which recent local studies have made use, she spends little time on the Klan's function outside of its violent vigilantism. As other historians have made clear, even within Texas the Klan's appeal was not always a violent one.
Bernstein centers this narrative of often-unpunished violence on her champion Dan Moody, the first prosecutor in the United States to successfully convict Klansmen for a vigilante attack. Moody certainly deserves plaudits, though Bernstein's contention that his success contributed to the beginning of the end of the Klan in Texas is less convincing. Moody's mixed record as the state's attorney general and governor is relegated to the epilogue, as is his failed run for Senate in 1942, when he was defeated by the Klan-backed W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel. More troubling, Bernstein's desire to present Moody as hero means that she only acknowledges—and fairly poorly—that "Moody has always been a racist" in the epilogue (p. 250).
In relegating this fact to an afterthought, Bernstein weakens her most compelling argument—that opposition to the Klan in Texas did not derive from violence per se but from the fact that white Texans were often the targets of Klan violence. Moody's opposition to the Klan coexisted comfortably with his belief in white supremacy, as it did for many in the 1920s. Ex-Klan recruiter Henry P. Fry, for one, saw the organization as a menace primarily because of its potential to create division among white Americans and undermine representative democracy. Bernstein hints at this idea, but her argument remains underdeveloped and is secondary to lionizing Moody. Bernstein's book, intended for a general readership, will be of limited use to those familiar with the literature on the second Klan, but it may be of interest to scholars of Texas history more generally.