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Mim and the Klan: The Story of a Quaker Farm Family in Indiana based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Nicely illustrated by Quaker graphic designer, Susanna Peebles Combs, Mim and the KLAN contains twenty chapters of three to five pages each. Set in the author=s home of Wabash County, Indiana in 1969, detailed descriptions of rural family farm life invoke memories of a radically different American life style. The teen-age main characters, Mim and her cousin Karen, are children of a Quaker farming family, and so their lives and conversations revolve around experience of farms, animals, extended family and their Quaker Meeting. The skeletal story of the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana laced into the main story line creates a sharply conflicting value system to the rural Quakers. 'I [Mim] told Karen what Grampa and Grams had told me. A>The Klan was here in Indiana - not just the South. And it was here in our county - even among our church members.' 'I thought we were past all that bigotry - prejudice.' 'Karen, I am ashamed to say this is a state that still  harbors prejudice.' (page 21).The story then moves smartly along, yet retains its integrity and homespun character. Karen cans strawberries and Mim raises animals for show (4-H) at the Indiana State Fair while a parallel story finds the Klan, the Quaker Meeting and public institutions, both at county and state levels in mutual support of one another. Strange bedfellows indeed; William Penn=s 'Holy Experiment' failure in 17th century Pennsylvania illustrated the incongruity of Quaker values and the moral inversion of politics, but for the Klan to have gained credibility and support in a Quaker Meeting is truly remarkable. Mim does some library research about the Klan and uncovers rather embarrassing facts about their Quaker Meeting and a mob lynching of two black men a generation ago. But the Klan=s tentacles reach down through the generations, and a close family friend agonizing through serious self-examination in a context of typical Quaker sympathy, trust and cooperative association highlights the starkly contrasting values. A new friend, Jonathan, a young African-American man and expert harness race driver, is introduced by scenes at the State Fair, while Mim and Karen challenge contemporary stereotypes and the harsh consequences of prejudicial thinking that dominate public thought. Quaker values, and Klan values which still permeate society today, conflict directly in the final chapters where Mim and Karen make assumptions about Jonathan radically different than the police. Thematically, there are dimensions of value systems that make the book appealing to reflective people of any age. Quaker communities implicitly assume that we are spiritual beings on a human journey, and so embrace trust, sympathy and mutual support for one another. The Quaker commitment to living in community, caring for others and grounding their spiritual guidance in the form of questions (The Queries) make it natural to extend community to other people without judgment. The Ku Klux Klan on the other hand, prides itself on ethnic superiority, mindless antagonism and hatred expressed in intimidation and murder - the polar opposite of community (pages 88 - 92). Precedence for such moral inversion is as old as history itself (Isaiah 5:20), and remains with us in the form of >market morality=, 'growth and progress', ethnic cleansing and other popular political and business euphemisms. The Quaker community in the story, and in reality, is in sharp contrast to political, 'market' values where mutual adversity and competition replace cooperative association; predatory economics replaces sympathy, and contractual penalty replaces trust. Cynthia Stanley Russell's book is rich with implied questions for discussion among young people. It would work well in youth discussion groups in which each participant has read the book at least once, and enters the discussion with questions well prepared. It is also a suitable reading for university classes in ethics, Indiana history and sociology. Mim and the Klan