This is part four of a series that charts the short history of the Ku Klux Klan in the Northern Territory of Australia and the involvement of NT police officer Constable David Jennings in that story.
Below is the full text of a letter received by the Northern Territory News in March 1978 but not published at that time. The letter concerns the purported conduct of a meeting at Katherine south of Darwin at which it was claimed by Constable David Jennings that the Australian branch of the Ku Klux Klan was established.
I have been unable to locate any record of a “K . Hettinger” – the purported author of the letter – and I believe it is more likely that the letter was produced by Constable Jennings.
Nor have I been able to locate any record of the “David Callaghan” referred to in the letter as the “national director and coordinator” of the Klan branch in Australia – a title that was apparently bestowed on Constable Jennings by the leader of the west coast faction of the Klan, David Duke, in August 1978.
Similarly, in my research to date on the conduct of a meeting of the Klan – complete with burning cross – outside of Katherine in early March 1978 has drawn a blank. If you have any information about that or any similar meeting please get in touch.
Dear Sir: Last Wednesday (1-3-78) I had the good fortune to be invited to the inaugural meeting of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (Australian Division).
The meeting was held on the property just outside Katherine at a location I have sworn not to reveal, and was attended by a surprisingly large crowd. I kept notes of the meeting and this is how it went.
The crowd stood around the symbolic fiery cross, none were hooded and yet no one seemed uneasy and yet there was some well-known persons in attendance.
From the back of the crowd came a tall, handsome man in his late 20s, he wore the traditional Klan robe, the hood off his head.
He strode to a position under the cross and after a token applause, raised his hands and spoke:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope I will soon be able to address you as Klansman and Klansladies or will it be Klanspersons. This is the first official Klan meeting ever to be held in Australia and we have chosen Katherine in the Northern Territory because at the moment it is so like the situation in the States (more applause).
“Let me introduce myself, I am called David Callaghan and I am the national director and coordinator of this branch of the Klan in Australia.”
Turning to the cross he says:
“This is certainly not a 20 foot flaming cross, but in our minds it symbolises for very important things, fire, heat, devotion and the light that it sheds. (Then as if by Divine intervention a gust of wind whips the flames even brighter).
“Many people around the world think the fiery cross is a symbol of hate, but our movement is primarily a movement of love, love of country, love of race, love of our heritage, love of the values of white civilisation. We see in the fiery cross the light ideals and purposes of Western culture. We see in the fiery cross the light of the Western world. This light is the white race.
He next recounted a brief history of white achievement, including major advances in medicine, technology, art and philosophy.
“All around us we find parasitic minorities who want to leech off our accomplishments.
“The Communists control three quarters of the world, immigrants and Jews control our foreign policies, our governments, the press and the financial organisations.
“Together they will destroy the purity of our race and the fabric of our civilisation. “Black people have organisations that fight for black people and black power. “All minority groups have organisations to support them. But there are no organisations that fight for and support the rights of white people. “That is why we have formed the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan here in Australia.”
He went on to say that the new Klan was a strictly legal and all aboveboard type of organisation.
None of the activities that originally bought to notice after the American Civil War were to be used.
He stated that what the Klan was going to preach separatism.
“The Blacks of the Territory especially are sitting back and laughing at the good fortune, wouldn’t you with one law for you and one for the whites.
“Wouldn’t you with massive government handouts enabling you to just sit around and drink up and do nothing other than perhaps collect your checks once a fortnight.”
He also stated:
“The Blacks of the Territory are blockading the advancement of the Territory. Their land claims are no more than black greed, they are trying to force the government and the people of Australia to march backwards instead of forward so that they can receive more and more gratuities.
“This is all the black of Australia understands, he has been pampered and spoiled since the time that some white gave birth to some perverted conscience.
“Yes the Territory especially is the conscience of Australia, you are the ones that are wearing it for those that reckon that they have done the wrong thing by the Blacks.” He further stated: “we know that the Klan will grow in Australia. The whites of Australia need the Plan to stand up for them and fight for them.
“Why only the other week I received the news that black lay preachers are now preaching anti-white sermons in the settlement churches. This is only the beginning.
“The black of Australia, the full blood or the tribal black, is being led to believe by the Governments, by the half-caste city dweller that has only seen pictures of settlements and by organisations like Legal Aid et cetera, that he had a rightful place in the white community.
“Nothing is further than the truth. Who wants included in our society, illiterate, unclean, drunken bludgers, who cannot even sign their names on the Government checks, who is allowed to sign those checks with the cross because he’s too lazy or too ignorant to learn even to write his own name.
“The time has come for changes in the system, better stop the littering of our streets with drunken blacks who are now raping our women and beating up our fellow citizens and escaping the true wrath of the law just because they are black.
“We do not want the black problems that soft governments and misguided do-gooders has thrust upon the United States and Africa. Let us act now and stop it before it really starts.”
Callaghan then stepped down from the front of the crowd amidst the loud applause and mingled with the crowd. All shook his hand and express their willingness to help.
30 new members were sworn in before the night was over, and Callaghan stated his itinerary was to include Alice Springs, Darwin, Tennant Creek and most towns up and down the track.
The night ended for the first meeting of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in the very early hours of the following day.
Trust that you find the enclosed information of interest and worthy of inclusion in your next edition.
I will keep you informed of our progress as we travel. May white power rise again.
Public Relations Officer
Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (Aust)
Other parts of this series can be found at the links below: