Domestic terrorism must be addressed, too

Published 9:38 pm Thursday, March 30, 2017

By Kenya Smith

When you hear the word, “terrorism,” what comes into your mind? 9/11? Al-Qaeda? ISIS? Islam?

When you see someone from the Middle East or certain countries in Africa or Asia, what is your impression towards them? What if a woman passed by and she wore a hijab or a burka? How would you react towards her?

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What is terrorism, anyway?

According to the Webster’s New World College Dictionary, terrorism is the “use of force or threats to demoralize, intimidate, or subjugate, especially such use as a political weapon or policy.”

During Barack Obama’s presidency, some Americans felt that Obama should have used the term, “Islamic terrorism” to identify the root of some of the tragedies that happened.

I believe that President Obama did not use the term “Islamic terrorism,” because he understood that terrorism could be committed by anybody, regardless of nationality or belief.

Terrorism in the United States did not start when 9/11 happened. It has existed for many years. We just have not thought of those earlier acts as terrorism.

Many people the Ku Klux Klan as just a hate group. The main goal of this group was to keep African Americans from enjoying the rights and privileges that were supposed to come after their emancipation.

The KKK committed various acts, such as beatings, verbal threats, vandalism, cross burnings and murder. They were responsible for the 1963 bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., where four black girls (ages 11-14) lost their lives while they were preparing for church service.

The Klan was also responsible for the Freedom Summer murders of 1964, in which three young men were shot and killed for helping African Americans with voting registration.

In 1981, two Klansmen lynched and decapitated 19-year-old Michael Donald in Mobile, Ala. This tragedy was known as the last lynching in United States. The Klan still exists, and its target list has expanded. Jews, Catholics, immigrants, the LGBT community and anyone who does not fit the KKK ideology are also targets.

In 1995, Timothy McVeigh planted a bomb that destroyed a federal building in Oklahoma City, Okla. As a result, 168 people, including children, were killed and more than 680 others were injured.

On July 27, 1996, one person died and 111 people were hurt when a bomb exploded at the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta. Eric Rudolph, a Christian Identity Movement affiliate, was responsible for the bombing, as well as the bombings of abortion clinics and a gay bar.

In 2008, police arrested two neo-Nazis for attempting to assassinate Barack Obama and decapitate black students at a high school. In 2015, 21-year-old Dylan Roof entered into the historical Emmanuel A.M.E Church in Charleston, S.C., during Bible study and fired shots, killing nine parishioners. His main motive was to start a race war.

Whether domestic or foreign, terrorism is a problem. We cannot focus only on Islamic or foreign terrorism. We must address domestic terrorism also.

Kenya Smith is a Suffolk native and graduate of Regent University. Email her at