Anyone following most new coverage in the press on the “war on terrorism” would probably believe journalists when they speak or write such statements as “Terrorism is coming to America.” The impression given is that this is something unprecedented on the American scene.
Their coverage led me to check out the definition of “terrorism” in Webster’s World College Dictionary. Terrorism is defined as “the act of terrorizing; use of force on others to demoralize, intimidate and subjugate.”
By that definition, the White supremacists/racists who lynched more than 3,000 Black folks in the early 20th century were terrorists.
Those who killed numerous Black soldiers after their return from World War I were terrorists. As were those who bombed the 16thStreet Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing 11-14-year-old Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins, and Denise McNair; and who killed 15-year old Virgil Ware on that same day were terrorists.
The White man who assassinated Medgar Evers was a terrorist. So were the White men who killed James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, Sammy Younge and Viola Gregg Liuzzo. Those Whites who brutalized warriors such as Fannie Lou Hamer and who set fire to many Black churches and homes throughout the former Confederate States of America were also terrorists. And the White man who shot and killed nine Black people in a Charleston church is a terrorist.
The people who supported those atrocities were supporters of terrorism. Federal and state officials did little, if anything, to punish the terrorists. Thus, they were enablers of terrorism.
It’s clear that terrorism is not coming to America for the first time. It has deep, deep roots in this country, something that is more often than not ignored by journalists and academicians who fail to call it by its rightful name. Many of those who harshly criticize President Obama for not using the term “radical Islamic terrorists” don’t now, nor did they ever use the term “radical white supremacist/racist terrorists.”
A. Peter Bailey, whose latest book is Witnessing Brother Malcolm X, the Master Teacher, can be reached at email@example.com.