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Some thoughts on white supremacism and terrorism in the wake of #Dayton and #ElPaso. People are speaking out in force, insisting that this be recognized as the terrorism it is. Quite right, too. /1
But it is only very recently that American political discourse has othered terrorism, insisting that terrorism is something brown people do to white people and not the other way around. /2
The Klan and its white supremacist ideology were always construed as terrorist - not only by others, but by themselves. Here is the text of the 1916 Kloran, their handbook. Klan officers were called "Terrors." /3
That the Klan was a terrorist group was instantly understood, and it was how they were described for the rest of the 20th century. This is from San Francisco, 1921. /4
This cartoon, which I have tweeted before, is also from 1921. The Uncle Sam leg, labeled "True Americanism" is giving the boot to a Klansman clutching a sign that says "Terrorism." Its caption: "The Answer." /5
This is from the New York Times in 1922, which knew all the way back then that the Klan was a terrorist organization. /6
Here is a New York World article from 1921, part of a series syndicated around the country, calling the Klan a terrorist group. /7
This New York World series, by the by, was intended as an "expose" that would expose the Klan to sunlight and thus kill it. But it backfired, acting instead as marketing. Membership exploded, & the Klan opened more than 200 new chapters after the series ran. /8
Understanding that the Klan was a terrorist group did not end in the 1920s. Here is a Florida article from 1936. /9
Here is a California article from 1946, describing the Klan as terrorist. /10
Here is a 1952 Florida article about the Klan recruiting again. It, too, calls them terrorist. /11
In 1967, a Louisiana paper agreed: the Klan's white supremacism relied upon campaigns of terrorism. /12
By 1980, the rhetoric hadn't changed: everyone knew the Klan was a terrorist group, including the Justice Department and the FBI, who identified them as such and investigating them and other white supremacist groups for "domestic terrorism." (This from Pennsylvania.) /13
In 1985, an Indiana paper noted an "alarming trend" of "racial hatred" giving rise to "American Terrorism," as the Klan continued to recruit. /14
It is only very recently, in other words, that American discourse willfully blinded itself to the fact that white supremacists are, and always have been, terrorists. /15
Others are noting that the Columbine shooters espoused white supremacism and fetishized Hitler and Nazi ideology, but these facts were quickly occluded by the media narrative that developed. /16
There is much more to say about this, and scores of other examples. But it should not need to come as news in 2019, after more than a century, that American white supremacists are engaging in terrorism. /17
I'll end with this example, denouncing a recent outbreak of "violence, outrage and furtive terrorism" driven by the "Ku Klux Spirit." It was published in 1921 - in The Dayton Daily News, from #Dayton Ohio. /18
It is not always true that forgetting history dooms you to repeat it. But erasing history makes it far, far easier to do so. /fin
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