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Photo Credit: Anti-Defamation League

If honorary KKK member wins governor in Missouri, I’m leaving the state. (Op-Ed)

Missouri Republicans filed a lawsuit yesterday in an effort to remove an “honorary” KKK member from its primary ballot for governor. Darrell Leon McClanahan III is running for governor and vehemently denies that the cross-burning event he was pictured at whilst raising his hand in a Nazi salute was a cross-burning. He calls the event a “Christian Identity Cross lighting ceremony,” which is the equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig. Let’s call it what it was — a white supremacist KKK event. Missouri Republicans accuse Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft of “refusing” to remove McClanahan’s name from the ballot.

For once, I agree with Missouri Republicans. While experts claim that Ashcroft cannot take the KKK member’s name off the ballot, Ashcroft is happy about the lawsuit as it may allow for such action to take place. McClanahan describes himself as a “Pro-White man, horseman, politician, political prisoner-activist who is dedicated to traditional Christian values.” According to the GOP lawsuit, he has a history of social media posts that contain Nazi imagery, racial slurs, and the phrase “White Power.” Shockingly, Missouri Republicans do not want this man associated with their party. Yet, his name is at the top of the ballot. His ties to the KKK were not discovered until after he filed to run for governor.

I have lived just outside of Saint Louis my entire life. In school, I was taught that Missouri is a swing state, but after the 2016 election, I have only seen my state vote red. Donald Trump’s presidency allowed racists to emerge from the dark shadows and make their voices heard. It is terrifying to be an LGBTQIA+ Missourian, and racial tensions have been high since Michael Brown was murdered by police in Ferguson.

I’m not surprised that a Ku Klux Klan advocate got onto the ballot, but I will not remain in this state if McClanahan wins the seat for governor. Missouri has become a punchline for the nation, and I will not live under Nazi rule. I love Saint Louis, but I do not want to see my state plunged into a new Jim Crow era. I cannot watch my friends suffer under racist, antisemitic, Islamophobic, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic legislation. I know that there are Missourians who are insane enough to vote for McClanahan, and that fills me with an intense sense of dread and fear.

Jay Ashcroft, please get the court order to remove this fascist.

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