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HARLAN COUNTY, KY — A blatantly racist soldier is being praised for what civil rights activists are calling an ‘enormous leap forward’ in race relations. The former junior KKK member, Private First Class Raylan Crowder, received accolades after asking African-American war buddy, Specialist Tyron Johnson, to be the best man at his wedding.

However, the choice has stunned Crowder’s hometown community of Harlan County, Kentucky. With a population of only 4,567, it didn’t take long for the news to spread.

“There goes the neighborhood,” said Jed Walter, a local hardware store owner. “One comes in, then there’s two. Two comes in and my property value plummets. I worked hard saving up for my triple wide and now it’s down the crapper.”

The unlikely friendship started when Crowder sat next to Johnson on a bus bound for basic training.

“He’s the first man of a colored persuasion I’d ever met,” said Crowder. “I’d seen some in movies and such, but never one in person. Funny thing, he ain’t nothin’ like how I’d been told they are so I didn’t hide my wallet like Momma told me to.”

Upon their first meeting, Johnson, a native of Bronx, NY, immediately took a liking to Crowder.

“I’d never met anyone like him either,” said Johnson. “He’s a backwater Hillbilly who considers fine dining as a night out at the Waffle House. How can you not love such naïveté?”

The buddy-cop movie duo fought their way through basic training and eventually Iraq and Afghanistan as the two remained inseparable during their enlistment.

When Crowder met the love of his life, reigning Kentucky hot dog eating champion Miss Ellie May Turner, he knew only one man could stand by his side on such a special day.

“My family had been tellin’ me that Johnson was a no good choice and couldn’t be trusted, on account Miss Ellie May being a rotund white woman and all. But they don’t know Johnson like I do. He’s into them Asian girls. He ain’t too boo-koo.”

Gun sales have soared 8,000 percent in advance of Johnson’s arrival, and fathers have sequestered their daughters to prepare answers for what many suspect will be a frequently asked question by Johnson — ‘where the white woman at?’

When asked by Duffel Blog reporters whether he would change his choice of best man due to the backlash from the local community, Crowder quickly became defensive.

“Everyone’s been asking and I’m fixin’ to throw a fit,” said Crowder. “Johnson and I ain’t the same and never will be. I don’t like that he freestyles, wears FUBU clothing with Timberland boots, and everything he drinks is purple, but regardless, we went through hell together. We shed the same blood in battle, which makes him kin. He’s more of a brother to me than anyone else, including my Daddy, who actually is my brother.”