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I was reading a book about events in the 1920's US south; and came across the phrase in a quote from a KKK spokes person. I can't figure out what the phrase means, and haven't been able to find any other use of it to give hints from broader context. For clarity I've included the most complete copy of the quotation I could find from "The Ku Klux Klan In American Politics" By ARNOLD S. RICE, 1962.

Here is a version of the quote from The Emergence of the New South, 1913-1945, George Brown Tindall, p. 191:

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Normally you would say "...with an affinity for (something)"; here "for ..." is omitted for stylistic reasons. –  Mechanical snail Aug 20 '12 at 5:01
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+1 for providing the complete quotation, as well as the other contextual information – even without being asked. (A quick mention of what you found in the dictionary, along with why you were still confused, would have scored you a perfect 10 in my book, but you've done well nonetheless.) –  J.R. Aug 20 '12 at 9:29
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Contrary to most notions of the KKK, at least some of their writings are about a 'code of morals': ""Every criminal, every gambler, every thug, every libertine, every girl ruiner, every home wrecker, every wife beater, every dope peddler, every moonshiner, every crooked politician, every pagan Papist priest, every shyster lawyer, every K. of C, every white slaver, every brothel madam, every Rome controlled newspaper, every black spider is fighting the Klan. Think it over. Which side are you on?". I'm more curious about 'K of C' and 'black spider'. –  Mitch Aug 21 '12 at 16:30
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@Mitch K of C is the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization. –  Dan Neely Aug 21 '12 at 18:30
    
The original book has quotation marks around "married man with an affinity". This is partially lost in the link above, and completely lost in the image above. See this result in Google Books. –  MετάEd Aug 21 '12 at 18:42

5 Answers 5

up vote 12 down vote accepted

The word affinity is a synonym or euphemism for mistress. The passage is quoting a proverb making the rounds at that time. Notice that this passage uses quotation marks to indicate words which are a direct quotation. See for example, the Coshocton Tribune, June 3, 1918, p. 4:

A married man with an affinity always runs the risk of talking in his sleep [emphasis added].

The example above is clearly referring to a marital indiscretion, but the specific form it takes is not identified in the quoted proverb. It might refer to simple adultery, or to another taboo such as homosexuality, or to any form of infidelity in general.

@KitFox found another newspaper proverb in The Mt. Sterling Advocate, December 28, 1922. This one makes clear that affinity was used at the time to mean mistress:

The rule that a man’s affinity is younger and better looking than his wife is one that knows blamed few exceptions [emphasis added].

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Affinity is used here to mean “a penchant for” and it is left to the reader’s imagination as to the object of his affinity. But by context it is clear that it means a penchant for adultery.

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Do you have a specific dictionary definition in mind? I looked at a few hits on Google and getting an affair out of any of them seems a bit of a stretch since they all had a version stressing the married relationship. –  Dan Neely Aug 20 '12 at 11:04
    
con·text: noun 1. the parts of a written or spoken statement that precede or follow a specific word or passage, usually influencing its meaning or effect: You have misinterpreted my remark because you took it out of context. "The married man" as opposed to "the man" implies that the rest of the sentence refers to marriage. –  Cees Timmerman Aug 20 '12 at 12:00
    
@CeesTimmerman Which remark here is yours? –  Dan Neely Aug 20 '12 at 13:48
    
Even in context, Jim's usage seems a major stretch. –  Dan Neely Aug 20 '12 at 13:55
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@DanNeely He's not saying that the word "affinity" means "having an affair". He's saying that IN CONTEXT the writer is talking about extramarital affairs. Just like, I'd say that in that sentence the word "it" refers to "the influence of the Klan". But when I say that I don't mean that this is the definition of the word "it". –  Jay Aug 21 '12 at 14:07

The implication is that the married man “has an affinity …” for a woman not his wife.

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Affinity

is an oblique reference literally to the degree of how closely one is related, but here refers to the concept, in Christian law derived from Jewish law, and therefore also used in civil law derivatives, specifically to the possibility of marriage with non-blood relatives. That is, affinity is in contrast to consanguinity, blood-relation, or 'strict' incest, affinity being a broader term including in-laws, and step-relatives.

AFFINITY in the proper sense the word is the connection which arises from cohabitation between each one the two parties cohabiting and the blood relations of the other. It is regarded as an impediment to marriage in the Jewish Roman and canon law...

from "A Catholic dictionary: containing some account of the doctrine, discipline ..." by William Edward Addis, Thomas Arnold, p. 14

In the KKK passage, given the references to 'clean', 'chivalry', and ominously 'roadside parking', the usage of 'affinity' is even broader, intending general proclivity to sexual advances, or philandering.

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Bear in mind that the Klan were also strongly anti-Catholic. So the Canon law concept of affinity in Catholicism is not one which Klan writers would have been very familiar with. –  MετάEd Aug 21 '12 at 18:45

Going by the context in reference to KKK, and knowing what this organization was devoted to – keeping black people down – my interpretation would be that they were referring to married men who had sexual relationships with black women.

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