Over the weekend, hip-hot artist Jasiri X posted this image on his twitter feed. It’s taken from the front page of the New York Daily News’ website. Note the screaming headline and the sympathetic caption: “Accused killer Dylann Roof had one chance at a stable family life — and his abusive dad ruined it for…
The Albany Times Union posted an article on their website about a local man involved in a bizarre terrorist plot that was recently rounded up by the FBI. Titled “Terrorism Radiation Plot Uncovered in Albany”, it opens with the following:
ALBANY, N.Y. — An industrial mechanic with General Electric Co., who is also allegedly a member of the Ku Klux Klan, designed a deadly mobile radiation device that he intended to sell to Jewish groups or a southern branch of the Ku Klux Klan, according to a federal complaint unsealed Wednesday in Albany.
The device was intended to be a truck-mounted radiation particle weapon that could be remotely controlled and capable of silently aiming a lethal beam of radioactivity at its human targets. The concept was that victims would eventually die from radiation sickness.”
OK, first of all…
This guy was basically building a DEATH RAY.
I just wish someone would say that in the article, because that’s what it fucking IS. Consequences and motivations notwithstanding, I do believe Nikola Tesla would be proud.
According to the federal complaint, Glendon Scott Crawford allegedly attempted to sell this technology to “Jewish groups or a southern branch of the Ku Klux Klan.” The complaint goes on to charge Crawford and his accomplice, Eric J. Feight, with “conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, including use of a weapon of mass destruction.”
So, wait . . . does that make the government’s official position on the KKK that it’s a terrorist organization?
To many, the KKK seems like an obvious terror group, and its history of church bombings, lynchings, and cross burnings certainly seems to prove it. But is what it was then the same as what it is now? It doesn’t seem to be engaging in these activities in the present day, and if it is, the links between those activities and the organization itself have been tenuous at best. So is the KKK a terrorist organization? Or just some loudmouthed hate group that nobody likes, but isn’t in the business of hurting or killing people anymore?
For the government to acknowledge it as the former would change a lot of things, especially in light of the massive overreach on behalf of the NSA that was recently exposed. Calling the KKK “terrorists” would put it under a much different set of rules in regards to monitoring and surveillance, as well as any penalties associated with actual activities.
Imagine this, if you will:
Local law enforcement officials discover the existence of a meth lab somewhere in, say . . . Mobile, Alabama. Before they confirm the location of the lab, the cops discover that several people involved in the lab’s operation have ties with the KKK, and could be using the profits to help support a local chapter. So now the NSA is called in, because not only are these guys manufacturing and distributing meth, they’re possibly doing so to support terrorism.
The NSA then goes to the FISA courts, gets any and all surveillance requests rubber stamped, wiretaps the bejeezus out of everyone, figures out the location of the lab, and sends in a task force to round up all of the suspects. They’re then sent off to a supermax facility in an undisclosed location, where they’re held for who knows how long without trial, likely in solitary confinement, interrogated relentlessly all along the way. Once thrown before a kangaroo court, they’re charged with aiding and abetting terrorists, conspiracy, and treason. All are sentenced to life in prison, without possibility of parole.
If the government labels the KKK a terrorist group, this kind of stuff will eventually happen to their members, I can assure you. Not that I would feel much in the way of sympathy for KKK members who get busted making meth, but the precedent that would be set could easily allow for rampant abuse by other groups who fit the vague and incredibly broad definition of the word “terrorist”.
I feel like now would be a good time for me to qualify this whole exposition by saying explicitly that I do NOT support the KKK, its message, or its members under any circumstances. But are they the American Al-Qaeda? If not, then the government should not treat them as such, regardless of how much the public might condemn them.
This is why words like terrorism need to be carefully, rigidly, and above all, publicly defined in a court of law. When it’s not clear what a terrorist isn’t, we leave plenty of room to say what one is. In the case of the KKK, if saying things publicly that people widely disagree with makes one a terrorist, then we’re all in a whole lot of trouble.
(cross-posted at Soapbox Magazine)