DON'T LOSE ACCESS:
Your IP access to ForeignPolicy.com will expire on June 15th.
To ensure uninterrupted reading, please contact Rachel Mines, Sales Manager, at [email protected]
Some say Ku Klux was chosen as the name for the US Supremacist organization because it mimics the sound of a cocked rifle, although other evidence suggests the attraction of the Greek word Cyclos, which means circle. This was essentially the goal of the defeated Confederate soldiers who founded the Ku Klux Klan in 1865 – to encircle or kill black Americans. When the clan gained power, it made its intentions publicly clear: promoting Confederate Jingoism; suppress the rights of reconstruction; Carry out terrorist attacks to intimidate; Destruction of property, especially churches; attack; to mock; Lynch; hanging; and drag the bodies of black men behind cars. These actions were carried out to promote white supremacy and to gain political power.
In the months and years after the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution – abolition of slavery and guaranteeing fundamental rights for the formerly enslaved – the Federal Government realized that violent action against KKK-led terrorism was necessary would if the newly enacted rights and safeguards should have an impact. By 1871, Congress passed a series of enforcement laws that expanded the federal government's powers to monitor elections and allowed the U.S. military to use force to stop the KKK. Barely a decade later, after the rapid dismantling of reconstruction, the Supreme Court robbed the files of much of their power; a lack of enforcement undone the rest.
To date, right-wing groups, including white supremacy groups, have been responsible for more murders on US soil than any other extremist group. In the past ten years, according to the Anti-Defamation League, three-quarters of extremist killings have been carried out by right-wing extremists. By mid-2019, the violence and arrests of the white supremacists had already exceeded the violence in 2018. However, the Trump administration has cut funding for right-wing extremism programs and has wrongly claimed a greater threat from Islamist extremism.
But now the government has a new fool to focus on terrorism. On May 31, US President Donald Trump announced that legislation would begin to list Antifa as a domestic terrorist group. Antifa, short for "antifascist", is a left-wing organization that consists of various autonomous groups with a common goal – protecting blacks from white terrorism. The group has been accused of having done material damage to protests, particularly demonstrations against George Floyd's murder, although there is little evidence to support this. If Antifa is identified as a terrorist organization, the US military can be used against it.
Trump's efforts are little more than excitement: there are mechanisms only for identifying foreign terrorist groups. But maybe it is time for the government to create a domestic terrorism law. Given the institutionalized racism and terror that black Americans have faced in the past 400 years, isn't it time to shut down the KKK?
Life in terror goes beyond inequality. Perpetual anxiety leads to high blood pressure – one of the most important health effects of living with racism, although hardly the only one. Black Americans live in combat or flight mode, on guard what they look like, what they say, and the ubiquitous possibility of brutal police oppression. Epigenetics teaches that trauma can be mapped onto our DNA. Therefore, each new generation adds another level to the trauma inherited from slave ancestors. The “conversation” that is held today with 10-year-old black boys is not new. It has been done since the 18th century, when the discussion was even more humiliating: "Wear the whips and eyelashes," reveal oral traditions. "The master gets tired after 15."
It is time for a federal law that identifies the KKK as a domestic terrorist group. The United States can no longer ignore the threat posed by this racist organization or allow the flow of its terrorist propaganda to continue unabated. Although historically the executive has immense power over foreign policy and war, Congress has passed laws specifically designed to provide the executive with the legal means to contain international terrorism. Still, Congress leaders have made a striking decision to ignore domestic terrorist cells.
Domestic terrorism is often misunderstood as an act staged on behalf of a foreign terrorist organization. However, it is not practical not to face an existential threat just because it is domestic.
Domestic terrorist offenders generally attempt to act as predators against factions of the U.S. population. The KKK believes that its actions are justified because the government has refused to completely ban their existence, despite the obvious threat to public security. So our terror extends to the highest level of the law – our government. From a black perspective, Antifa can be our only hope.