The Ghosts of Terrorism

Staff Writer: Alexandria Weaver

When people think about terrorism in America, their minds revert to Sept. 11, 2001. However, is that truly the only act? Terrorism is defined as the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political reasons. Domestic terrorism are attacks carried out by United States citizens or permanent U.S. residents. So why do other forms seem to be ignored, forgotten or mislabeled?

KKK

The KKK wore white sheets to mask their identities but it was well known that most members were city officials such mayors, city councilmen, police chiefs, etc. Photo Courtesy: Chicago Tribune

As stated by History.com, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), founded in 1866, was highly prevalent throughout the South as a way to rebel against the Republican’s Reconstruction “aimed at establishing political and economic equality for African-Americans.” They used horrific methods to torture African Americans including arson, lynching, bombing houses and churches and raping women and men.

Lynch Victim

Blacks were regularly lynched by white mobs. Photo Courtesy: SPL Center

According to SPL Center, Klan members were involved in much of the racial violence that spread throughout the South, and the fanatic Klan rhetoric inspired non-Klan members to participate in the campaign of terror. No Klan group was more ruthless than the secretive White Knights of Mississippi. The White Knights had only 6,000 or 7,000 members at its peak but still earned the reputation as the most bloodthirsty faction of the Klan since reconstruction.

Thirteen.org says the Klan resurrected in 1915 and redirected its attention from not only black people but also immigrants Jews, and Roman Catholics. Membership peaked during the Mid-1920s at four to five million people.

By 1944, the Ku Klux Klan had lost most of its influence and membership. It was revived during the Civil Rights era and continues today as a small organization that continues to stage demonstrations in favor of white supremacy and fundamentalist Christian theology.

Strange Fruit

Strange Fruit, a song by Billie Holiday and a metaphor for black people that were hung from trees throughout the South. Photo Courtesy: All Poetry

Referring to the data provided by Tuskegee University, 3,446 African Americans were lynched from 1882 to 1968. The leading states were Mississippi with 539, Georgia with 492, Texas with 352, Louisiana with 335 and 299 lynched in Alabama. In addition, 1,297 white people were also lynched, the most being in Texas with 141.

Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday: “Southern trees bear strange fruit / Blood on the leaves and blood at the root / Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze / Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees / Pastoral scene of the gallant south / The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth / Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh / Then the sudden smell of burning flesh / Here is fruit for the crows to pluck / For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck / For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop / Here is a strange fruit and bitter crop”

While the Ku Klux Klan was a disease that mainly affected the Southern states, there is an even larger epidemic that goes on seemingly every day. Mass shootings.

The Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as a single incident in which four or more people, not including the shooter, are “shot and/or killed” at “the same general time and location.”

According to Business Insider, there have been 307 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2018 (as of Nov. 8). The biggest shooting of Nov. was the Borderline Bar and Grill shooting in Thousand Oaks, California, that occurred on Nov. 7. Thirteen people were shot and killed. The shooter, Ian David Long, 28-year-old white male, was a corporal in the Marines from Aug. 2008 to March 2013.

Borderline Bar and Grill

Nellie Wong cries as Chyann Worrell holds her and Erika Sigman, right, stands beside them. All three were inside the Borderline Bar and Grill when shooting started. Photo Courtesy: CNN

Robert Bowers, 46-year-old white male, constantly made anti-Semitic posts on Gab (a non-restrictive social media site). Eventually, he murdered 11 people and wounded six using a Colt AR-15 rifle and three Glock .357 handguns at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Oct 11.

Synagogue

Shooting victims at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh ranged in age from 54 to 97. Photo Courtesy: CBS News

Nikolas Cruz (white male, age 19 at the time), armed with an AR-15 rifle, killed 17 students and injured another 17 at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14. Cruz receives fan mail from men, women and young girls all over the United States and Europe. Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein told CNN he’s never seen a defendant get so many letters.

Parkland

Parents wait for news after a reports of a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, 2018. Photo Courtesy: Time Magazine

On June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white supremacist walked in to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, and murdered nine African-American members. Roof is being quoted as to say, “I would like to make it crystal clear, I do not regret what I did. I am not sorry. I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed.”

Charleston

Victims of the Charleston Church Shooting. Photo Courtesy: fox6now.com

During the midnight screening of the Dark Knight Rises on July 20, 2012, at Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, James Holmes (30-year-old white male) came dressed in a gas mask and body armor and used tear gas grenades and multiple firearms, including a military style AR-15 assault rifle to kill 12 people and injure 70 others.

James Holmes

James Holmes, the gun he used and evidence markers for where the bullets struck in Century 16. Photo Courtesy: Daily Mail

Twenty-year-old white male, Adam Lanza, fatally shot 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012. He was armed with a Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle with ten 30-round magazines and a Glock 20SF handgun. Before he attacked the school, he shot and killed his mother, and after killing the small children, he committed suicide.

Sandy Hook

The victims of the Sandy Hook shooting. Photo Courtesy: WQAD.com

The deadliest mass shooting in United States history is none other than the Las Vegas shooting totaling 59 deaths including the shooter (presumed suicide), 64-year-old white man Stephen Paddock, and almost 500 injured. Shooting from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino into a crowd of 22,000 people, witnesses say the gunfire lasted 10-15 minutes.

Las Vegas

A man lays on top of a woman as others flee the Route 91 Harvest country music festival grounds after an active shooter was reported at Mandalay Bay on Oct. 1, 2017 in Las Vegas. Photo Courtesy: Time Magazine

There is a plethora of tragic stories just like the ones above. All unjustified. Many wrongly titled. These are terrorists. American terrorists. They do exist. Far too many people want to label Muslims as the primary terrorists. What about the U.S. citizens in our own backyard? Why does the media try to justify these shootings by calling these shooters “troubled” and “mentally unstable”? Is it because they are white men? Is there even privilege in taking innocent lives just because of the color of the shooter’s skin?

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