By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
“There’s only one way to America should should respond to attacks such as the Birmingham Church bombing, that is by carrying on exactly as before.” That was a headline at The Independent, slightly modified to refer to the 1963 bombing of an African-American church by the KKK that killed four girls. The bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester was similar, it targeted young people due to bigotry and intolerance and supremacism. Did people respond to the KKK by simply saying “let’s carry on as before,” or did they go out and confront it, oppose it in marches, arrest its members, sue its chapters, and marginalize its hate in media?
“Don’t reveal KKK perpetrator’s name, leave him in anonymity.” When the Manchester terror perpetrator’s name Salman Abedi was announced, numerous people said it would be better to not publish his name and let him “rot” in “anonymity.” Why is anonymity better than speaking openly about what motivated him and discrediting him and confronting the ideology that guided him? Did they hide the name James Earl Ray, the murderer of Martin Luther King, because anonymity is better? Isn’t it better to confront hate ideology and its roots and reveal it to the world, rather than simply pretending it doesn’t exist? Better to teach society why the perpetrator is wrong than hide him away.
“A senseless act of KKK violence.” There were many leaders who sent “thoughts and prayers” and condemned the Manchester attack as “cowardly” and a “senseless” act of violence. One Indiana Congressman tweeted “Our nation’s thoughts & prayers are w/ victims of last night’s senseless attack, along w/ their families, friends and people of Manchester.” Would he have written that about a black community that suffered a lynching, like the murder of Jesse Washington in 1916? Just “thoughts and prayers” for a “senseless attack”? Murdering 22 people isn’t just a “cowardly” or “senseless” act. It has sense, it has a wrong and hateful and bigoted sense. By just generalizing it, and turning it into something non-specific, allows the audience not to march against the hate that causes terror. Hate causes the attacks in Paris, Belgium, Berlin, Sotckholm and many other places. It is pure, supremacist and dehumanizing hate. You can’t just tell a community victimized by terror, “thoughts and prayers,” they need answers, justice and society needs to reduce the roots that grow up murderers.
“KKK Terrorism is part and parcel of life in any major city in the US South.” After the attack on Parliament many argued that terror and mass murder is just a “part of life” of living in a big city. They were parroting a quote from London’s mayor. But excusing terror by making it out to be like getting rained on or having pigeons, kind of just an aspect of life, is a way to mainstream it to make society used to it and misdirect away from confronting it. Is KKK terror a fact of life? It once was. Race riots in America, such as those against Italians in New Orleans or Chinese in the American West, were once a “fact of life.” So were lynchings. That’s not how you confront terror and hate, you have to want to reduce it to zero. It shouldn’t be a fact of life. Racism is not just a “fact of life.”
“The KKK thrives on division, unity is the answer.” After ISIS attacks in Europe, many commentators claim that ISIS and Islamist terror “thrives on division.” But does the KKK thrive on division? Of course it did. It sought to make white people feel superior and keep black people as second class citizens through fear. It thrived on division. But that doesn’t mean you don’t confront white supremacy and don’t call it “white” and pretend the KKK is something other than what it is. ISIS is an Islamist organization, it thrives on Islamist supremacy. To confront it you have to confront the hate that leads young people to join it. 5,000 European citizens joined ISIS. Many are middle class and “integrated” just like people who become hooligans or became Nazis. The perpetrator of the Manchester attack chose to become an extremist just like the Toulouse killer and others. They choose. So you have to choose to confront them. You do have divide them from mainstream society, which means dividing extremist hate preachers and others from society, not worry that calling them out will offend them and “help ISIS recruit.” An imam in Denmark recently called for the murder of Jews, as did several imams in Canada, you have to confront them, and march against the hate.
“Don’t stigmatize white people”;”We must not let intolerance of white people be a response to the KKK.” After many terror attacks there is a tendency to worry about anti-Muslim views. But the rhetoric is illogical, as if any critique of the “Islamic” aspect of radicalization is “stigmatizing.” It’s like pretending the KKK is not composed of whites and white people are not the pool from which white supremacy comes from. ISIS comes from an Islamist pool of hatred. One has to confront that pool of hatred.
“So-called KKK claims responsibility.” Only with ISIS is there a “so-called” put before the name by media. Why? They don’t say “so-called Republic of North Korea,” they accept those names even if it isn’t a “democratic” “republic.” They don’t say that “so-called Aryan Nation.” Or “so-called National Socialists” as if they aren’t socialists.
“KKK are not Christians.” After ISIS attacks one of the refrains is that they are not Muslims. But why is this an immediate talking point. Why deny what ISIS comes from, the hatred that it emerges from, what it’s members self-describe themselves as. Instead people say “ISIS has nothing to do with Islam.” So why did 50,000 join it, why aren’t they on trial for blasphemy in Saudi or Pakistan for pretending to be Muslims? Do people say this about the KKK? Ok, so you don’t like the kinds of Christians that the KKK profess to be, but they are Christians. Why this need to always deny, rather than confront. Why not confront ISIS and show it to be wrong, and stigmatize it and its members, rather than just denying it is there. To say the KKK is not “real” white people, or not “real” Christians, doesn’t make it change, it allows it to thrive. The KKK used Christian symbols, it’s not enough to just pretend it’s not Christians or not “real” white people simply because the majority are not members.
“KKK is just crazy nihilists.” C.J Werleman argues that ISIS members have “no logic or sense to their violence…just a bunch of drugged up, psychopathic, nihilists.” This is another way to minimize and whitewash the reality of ISIS members who are thoughtful and openly express their desire to “murder the kuffar.” They may be murderers and sociopaths like the SS of the Nazi era or the KKK members. But why pretend it’s just a bunch of crazy drugged up people with “no sense.” They have a clear sense, they choose their targets. They plan and make bombs or buy guns. In order to reduce the KKK you can’t pretend it’s just “crazy” people, you have to fight against their terror and their ideology.