Seems as a youth, a Klansman told him he had leadership potential. Obviously a man of strong morals, he immediately joined up, and started recruiting members for them. He netted 150 sheeters in total. He admits that he joined up becuase someone saw his leadership potential. The article goes on:
Maybe it's just me, but it sounds a little hollow. "Pro-American veneer?" I think it's pretty obvious what the goals of the KKK are. No in depth reporting needed there. Maybe it shouldn't be surprising, but I'm still irritated that a Senator could be so shallow.
He belonged to the Klan for a year, then moved in 1943 to Baltimore to help build ships.Byrd says he never resented blacks, Catholics or Jews, but he failed to "examine the full meaning and impact of the ugly prejudice behind the positive, pro-American veneer."
Of course, I think that power doesn't corrupt strong people, power is just a draw for easily corruptible people. Maybe that's a thin distinction.