I have a great abhorrence against portraying anything I find to be evil in positive light. I don't want to get into deeply the question of "what I find to be evil", because that would be the least interesting point of debate. I'll simply say that I think you should replace "what I find to be evil" with, what you find to be evil, and do not portray that in a positive light.
To that end I'd never present the KKK as good guys. They are the baddies. But then again, I'd never portray the mafia or the Nazi's or the communists as "good guys" either. They are the baddies.
However, I do concede that fundamentally you can't just throw a label on people and understand everything about them. Indeed, in the case of the KKK or the Nazi's, part of what makes them so repellently evil is that they do think you can just label people and understand them. In the real world, there were people in the German military marching under the Nazi banners that were not actually wholly depraved and were even at times admirable in some traits. The same is true of just about any group of people. Indeed, you can even point to the worst of them and find some situational morality where in some situation or context they behaved morally - mafia people might be good to their family, for example. Or, consider the end scene of "Band of Brothers" where the German general gives a stirring and noble speech, and is accorded - quite appropriately - respect by the protagonist of that real story, the quite honorable Captain Winters. Consider conversely the complexity of a 'good guy' like Ronald Speirs.
However, I find that CoC is a very bad framework for exploring that. To explain why, I'm going to describe the inverse problem that I have with moral complexity being deliberately explored in the context of CoC, and that's the Swedish horror story "Let the Right One In".
In "Let the Right One In" there are inhuman monsters that we have absolutely no reason to sympathize with, but for the purposes of the story the author has humanized them and tamed their horror by presenting human monsters as being so terrible that the inhuman monsters seem understandable and less horrible by comparison. I personally could not stand this, precisely because it violates the principle I started this discussion with - don't present something evil as if it wasn't evil. To me, having monsters in this story was unnecessary and even distracting. To the extent that the "realistic" aspects of this fiction represented in any way the reality of modern Sweden, that was far more worth exploring than vampires and such crap, and certainly you should never use the horrors of the real world to make something like a vampire seem not that bad.
But if that is the case, then how much worse is it to use the infinite horrors of CoC to make real horrors like the KKK, Nazi's, Communism, Mafia or (pick your evil organization here) seem not that bad by comparison? In other words, I think you can deeply explore fictional horrors, or deeply explore real horrors, but you can't do both at the same time without risking putting a happy gloss on something terrible and in essence writing a defense of something you should not be defending.
Edited by Celebrim, 04 December 2017 - 05:43 PM.