Terrorism In France And USA

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French special forces police during this week's Paris turmoil -- columnist says all terror acts, including homegrown ones, must be condemned

Last week’s bombing near an NAACP office in Colorado Springs, Colorado happened as the nation enters a new year after months of police brutality protests, in the aftermath of the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York.

Authorities have not confirmed the target of the crudely made pipe bomb was the local office of the NAACP. However, the FBI is said to be investigating a disgruntled man who visited the NAACP office several weeks ago, who was angry about undisclosed issues. The FBI has released a sketch of a balding White man, around forty-years-old driving a white pickup truck.

It is unclear whether this suspect is the same person who was seen by witnesses leaving the area around the time of the bombing, or, if he is the same enraged person who visited the NAACP office recently.

The bombing in Colorado is a reminder of the homegrown terrorism African-Americans understand all too clearly. The terrorist attacks that killed 17 people in France have been roundly condemned. Any attack that kills innocent civilians ought to be condemned. Extremists who commit barbarous acts, while hiding behind whatever religious faith, should be denounced because of their actions—not their faith.

In America, there is much hypocrisy on the question of what constitutes “terrorism” and who is a “terrorist.” Most would agree the targeting and killing of innocent civilians is terrorism. For decades, we’ve heard much about “Islamic terrorism,” whenever some misguided individual, said to be a Muslim, commits a horrible atrocity. Yet, when White men commit horrific acts of mass murder the characterization isn’t quite the same.

After 9-11, Americans of every stripe condemned the mass murder of 3,000 human beings. Many in  cried for vengeance to punish the attackers. This event turned a worse than mediocre president into, in his words, a “wartime president.” And today, we are still trying to pick-up the pieces after more than a decade of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

These days, any attacks that is done by anyone who is either Arab, or, Muslim is usually framed in the media as an “act of terrorism.” But when a White male, who isn’t a Muslim, engages in similar crimes they’re rarely called terrorists.

So, White men can bomb and shoot people, especially if they are African Americans and they won’t be labeled terrorist. The most deadly act of homegrown terrorism occurred on April 19, 1995 when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, in Oklahoma was bombed killing 168 people by highly decorated Gulf War soldier Timothy McVeigh.

But homegrown America’s terrorism perpetrated by White men, many of whom claim to be Christian, is nothing new. Native Americans and the descendants of African slaves know this all too well. Millions of Native Americans were slaughtered so White Europeans could explore and fulfill their “manifest destiny” agenda.

Native Americans who welcomed Whites into their country, called Turtle Island, were killed mercilessly and demonized as “savages,” who knew nothing about civilization. Demonizing other racial and ideological groups is a tactic used repeatedly to justify the cruel deeds of Caucasians.

Today, many White Americans who don’t want to discuss White supremacy and racism will say "Slavery is over" and that the outrages done to African Americans was done long ago and are now irrelevant. The fact that more violence and terror was experienced by African Americans after Slavery, during the Lynching and Jim Crow segregation eras, is often conveniently omitted from memory.

In this within this context, that the deep history of White American terrorism is often never analyzed. The Ku Klux Klan arose in the aftermath of the Civil War and Emancipation. White men burned and bombed the homes and properties of African Americans, while, brutalizing, and lynching them. The lynching, and ritual castration of African American males, and women too, was a regular occurrence in the years after the Civil War right into the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 60’s.

During this time, African Americans routinely faced terrorism from the hands of Whites. Besides regular beatings, African Americans were targets of bombing and murder campaigns. The bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, on September 15, 1963 is a well know atrocity that killed four little Black girls on a bloody Sunday, in Birmingham, Alabama know at that time as “Bombingham.”

As a highly visible organization involved in the struggle for the rights of African Americans, the NAACP has often been the target of White supremacists organizations like the Ku Klux Klan.

The Birmingham bombing, of the 16th Street Baptist Church, occurred a few months after the assassination of Medgar Evers, who directed NAACP operations in Mississippi, on June 12, 1963. Evers was killed in his driveway by Byron De La Beckwith a member of the Ku Klux Klan and White Citizen’s Council. Evers’ home had been firebombed the previous year. Beckwith was only convicted of his crime in 1995 and died in prison in 2001.

Evers wasn’t the first NAACP leader to be killed by White supremacist murderers. On Christmas Day, 1951 Florida NAACP field secretary Harry T. Moore, and his wife Harriette, were killed when their home was bombed. No one was ever brought to justice for the murders. Around 2006, four White men, known members of the Klan, were named as the likely assassins but had already died. The Moores were the first NAACP members to be murdered for their activism.

Two other NAACP members who were martyred in the fight against White supremacy were Wharlest Jackson, Sr., a NAACP treasurer murdered by a bomb in Mississippi on February 27, 1967 and Robert E. Robinson a NAACP lawyer murdered by a bomb in Georgia on December 18, 1989.

Jackson’s murder was never solved. In 1997, Walter Leroy Moody was sentenced to death in Alabama after being found guilty of killing Robinson, and, federal judge Robert Vance—who was killed two days before Robinson by a bomb.

From the days of the Civil Rights Movement to the present, the NAACP has been a frequent target of racist terrorists. It is noteworthy, that not all of these attacks happened in southern states. The NAACP has had offices and events attacked in places like: Milwaukee, Washington, Baltimore, Boston, California and now in Colorado. Several African American leaders were victims of firebombing including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Homegrown American terrorism remains a problem on several fronts. There is now a national conversation taking place regarding police brutality, but most African American leaders fail to connect the murderous conduct of some White police officers to an ongoing campaign of terror against Black people. Doing so might cause them to be labelled as “irresponsible” in the eyes of the White establishment.

Have African Americans forgotten that police officers and sheriffs were among the killers of African Americans, during the Civil Rights Movement? For example, the 1964 killing of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner was linked to, at least, two policemen: Neshoba County Sheriff Lawrence A. Rainey and Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price.

Both men were members of the Klan.

In July, of 2014, two Florida policemen left the force after their Klan memberships were discovered. Fruitland Park Deputy Chief David Borst resigned and Officer George Hunnewell was fired after their Klan ties were revealed. In 2009, another Fruitland policeman, Officer James Elkins resigned after photographs of him wearing Klan regalia came to light.

The Ku Klux Klan has bragged that they have been successful in infiltrating police departments. The activist group Anonymous has stated that the Klan may’ve infiltrating the Ferguson police department. There is even suggestion that Officer Darren Wilson, the killer of Michael Brown is a Klan member.

American politicians are quick at denouncing terrorism that is perpetrated by Arabs or Muslims. Republicans, in particular, pretend to abhor terrorism. But how seriously can we take them?

Many Republicans remained silent when President Obama’s life was being threatened by racists turning up at rallies with machineguns. Republicans remained silent when the Secret Service said the threats to this president were unprecedented.

And now while they pretend to be a party of tolerance they’ve elevated Congressman Steve Scalise to be the third most powerful leader in the Republican Party—even though he spoke to a White supremacist group run by former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke.

Americans must denounce terrorists, of all kinds, and those political theorists whose words inflame others to commit acts of violence and murder.

 

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