Rumors that Mitt Romney re-used the KKK slogan “Keep America American” continue to be circulated online. Some say it has been debunked, while others aren’t so sure. Let’s take a look.
The controversy began when Mitt Romney used the phrase “keep America America” which was misquoted in the press to be “Keep America American.” This is in fact a slogan associated with the KKK. In a campaign ad, Romney can be heard saying:
We will stop these power seekers where they stand. We will keep America America by retaining its character as the land of opportunity.
View this statement in the video below, at about the 15-second mark:
There is more than one side to this argument. Sites such as Americablog.com claim that “Romney used the phrase at least twice, and it is an old Ku Klux Klan slogan.” It further argues that if the GOP can imply that President Obama is a socialist, then they can imply that Romney is a racist. The popular myth-busting site Snopes has claimed this rumor to be false, basing their determination on the difference between “America” and “American” in the quote. Snopes itself has come under fire for being biased toward the political right.
While there are two sides to every argument, what is interesting here is that both sides back up their claims by the same piece of information, that of Romney using the phrase “Keep America America” and not “Keep America American,” which was the KKK slogan in question. Detractors will claim that the sentiment is the same despite the small difference, and perhaps Romney actually used the exact KKK quote and merely denied it later. Those calling it a hoax will point out that Romney’s campaign slogan is not either version of the phrase in question, but “Believe in America.” They also point out that the phrases are in fact different, albeit slightly.
Alas, it comes down to interpretation. People will interpret this however they wish, and both sides will be able to argue their side with some facts. While it appears clear to this writer that Mitt Romney said, “keep America America” it can be debated how close to the KKK theme the sentiment really is, and what that even means in either incarnation. The fact that Romney was raised in Mormonism in a time that is considered a discriminatory era is an issue we predicted nearly a year ago would re-surface, and this appears to be signs of just that.
It’s hard to fathom that Mitt Romney would commit political suicide by knowingly quoting the KKK. That said, accusations of Mormonism being racist along with the fact that he is facing an African-American president only highlights anything that can be construed as racist in this election. Romney has to be very sensitive in how he chooses his words.
I’d also like to point out this excellent article from 2011 which discusses this issue, and takes a look at other groups who have used the “Keep America American” slogan.
Though the story originally flared up at the end of 2011, it has resurfaced again in social media. The following tweet was sent out on a couple of Seth Rogan fan pages in the past few days:
that akward moment you realize Mitt Romney’s Slogan, “Keep America American” was the same slogan used by the KKK in 1922…
“Keep America America”
The Mitt Romney version of “Keep America America” can be found in countless literature, such as the 1949 “New York Legislative Documents, Volume 4″ in which it is written, “But today The American Legion is challenged as it has never been challenged before as a force in our own country to protect America, to protect the basic concepts of America, and to keep America America.” Another example is the Michigan Courthouse Review, volumes 14-15 (1951) in which we read, “As you can easily see, we must participate to keep America, America.”
“Keep America American”
This quote does appear in the KKK publication Why You Should Become a Klansman: Of Interest to White, Protestant, Native-born Americans who Want to Keep America American (1924). But we can go back further and find this in the religious text The Winchester centennial, 1803-1903 in which it is written, “But we who have studied the land of late years must have felt that we come to a greater, a more vital crisis, in these doubtful times in which it is still uncertain whether we can keep America American, true to the principles on which her life was begun, to which it was rededicated when the Union was preserved.”
We have included but a few instances of the above quotes in other literature to demonstrate that they are not exclusive to any individual or organization.
Neither of these slogans belongs solely to Mitt Romney or the KKK, and in fact both have been used by many people in many situations over many years. Mitt Romney did not use the exact KKK quote, though the meaning of the two slogans side by side are open to interpretation and debate. He used a quote similar to the KKK slogan. The similar KKK slogan “Keep America American” has been used in the past by other organizations, dating back to the 1800s.
We’d like to get your opinion. Do you think Mitt Romney’s use of the phrase “Keep America America” is close enough to the KKK slogan “Keep America American” to warrant a controversy, or is this merely a cheap ploy to cost him votes?
Filed under: Politics