Terrorist. What comes to mind when you hear the word terrorist? Is it an ISIS fighter? Al-Qaeda? Images of 9/11 and suicide bombers? These groups and events are all acts of terrorism. But what about the KKK and Alt Right? Are they considered domestic terrorists? The media and the courts do not use the word ‘terrorism’ consistently. Members of the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist organizations should be identified, held accountable and restricted as terrorist organizations.
“The US defines ‘domestic terrorism’ as activities that meet three criteria- ‘dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law’, are intended to intimidate or coerce civilians or governments, and occurs primarily within the US… Domestic organisations and individuals, especially neo-Nazi and white supremacists, tend to be charged with conspiracy, organised crime and weapons violations”(“Terrorism v Hate Crime: How the US Courts Decide”). However, they are not considered terrorist or terrorist organizations.
If a Muslim extremist rams a car into a crowd of people, it is unanimously declared an act of terrorism. Headlines run red with titles of “TERRORIST”. However, if a white supremacist enters a black church, massacres churchgoers, and tries to start a race war, it is portrayed as a hate crime, but not an act of terrorism. This is considered an singular act of hatred, instead of terrorism, which is defined as an act of systematic planning of violence and intimidation. The KKK and other white supremacists have applied acts of violence for decades, but their white hoods and rallies are protected under freedom of speech. If the KKK was listed as a terrorist organization, they would not be protected. The white supremacist protesters have used freedom of speech as justification for their actions. However, they have systematically proven dangerous to human life, violated federal law, and intimidated civilians.
In Charlottesville, a white nationalist and neo-Nazi rally caused an uproar in the community when they clashed with counter-protesters. The clash and rally ultimately resulted in 3 fatalities and two dozen injuries. Many community members also have reported a feeling of fear around this protest. The actions of the white supremacists have been met with condemnation for their hateful actions by governors and state leaders. However, it has not been labeled as an act of terrorism, despite filling the criteria of a terrorist act.
The KKK and white supremacists have used Freedom of Speech as a protection for their rally, and has resulted in violence, fear, and casualties. The lack of recognition of the dangers these hate organizations proves both dangerous to civilians and to the country’s sense of justice. White supremacists and the KKK should be recognized as a terror threat.