In this paper, there is going to be a discussion on Ku Klux Klan, in particular, whether this organization is a peaceful or it is a terrorist one. It is going to be argued that going by the present day standards and definitions, the KKK could be classified as a terrorist organization.
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In order to support this statement, the history of the Ku Klux Klan or KKK is going to be considered by looking at the activities they have constantly been engaging in over time.
KKK was a secretly organized group that engaged in violent activities. The group first came up in the course of the Reconstruction period in Alabama. It carried out its operations beginning from the year 1867. According to Lutz & Lutz (2009), the Ku Klux Klan is an example of an effective conservative terrorist organization (Lutz & Lutz, 2009).
The initial KKK and organizations of the same nature that came up under various names were prosperous in the combined struggles they undertook in assisting the white elite to recapture power over local as well as state governments “in the old Confederacy” (Lutz & Lutz, 2009, p.14).
It is pointed out that through employing intimidation and terror, the freed slaves as well as the Republicans were gradually excluded and effectually demoted to the political limits of the society (Chalmers, 1965).
The attempts to ensure preservation of having equal rights by using the ‘criminal justice system’ did not succeed for the reason that it was not possible to get convictions.
It is reported that intimidation of witnesses was carried out, and the judges did not accept to serve because they feared the risks that were involved (Chalmers, 1965). Such promotion of terror made it possible for KKK “to reserve the decisions of the Civil War as far as political control of local and state government” (Lutz & Lutz, 2009,. p.14).
It is reported that the target of the Klan were the people who had been set free, black school teachers, the missionaries in the north and the white Republicans (“Ku Klux Klan in Alabama”, 2010). This group hardly carried out their terrorism activities during daytime and preferred to carry out operations in the secluded rural areas during the night.
They would target a particular house and go there during the night and surround it, break the door and pull out the occupants to the backyard. They would then torment the men by beating them up and the women were sexually assaulted (“Ku Klux Klan in Alabama”, 2010).
The KKK carried out their operations “as the military wing of Democratic Party in Alabama” (“Ku Klux Klan in Alabama”, 2010, p.1). Even if a small number of Democrats engaged in praising the group publicly, a large number of the leaders of the party were the KKK members and the party renounced the brutal acts committed by the organization (“Ku Klux Klan in Alabama”, 2010).
The main objective of this organization was to stop the Republican Party development and the group attained this objective by engaging in intimidating and beating up those people who supported the black party (“Ku Klux Klan in Alabama”, 2010).
Taking the case in Alabama, the appearance of this group in the year 1868 contributed to an instant and considerable decrease in the number of the Republican voters. At the ‘gubernatorial election’ which took place in 1870, the KKK released “a wave of terror in such Republican-heavy counties as Greene and Sumter and kept thousands of potential voters away from the polls” (“Ku Klux Klan in Alabama”, 2010, p.1).
Having the support of this group, Robert B. Lindsay, who was a candidate for the Democratic Party, obtained a narrow win over the Republican candidate. During the same year, the KKK was able to help the Democratic Party to be in power again in parliament (“Ku Klux Klan in Alabama”, 2010, p.1).
The Ku Klux Klan also engaged in opposing several social changes, which were a product of freedom that took place in Alabama. As a routine, the group engaged in forcing out the teachers in the northern schools (“Ku Klux Klan in Alabama”, 2010, p.1).
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They also engaged in burning several churches as well as schools, which were places where people who had been freed, held their political rallies with an intention of preventing the establishing of the black political goals as well as religious and educational ones (“Ku Klux Klan in Alabama”, 2010).
Later in time, the moment the “old elite” returned to power, the reason for the Ku Klux Klan to vanish consisted in the fact that the group was not needed anymore. The authorities of the state could now be charged with the responsibility of engaging in the maintaining the control that they had over the Blacks.
Gurr points out that in a situation where the state authority did not succeed, lynchings were used to threaten the black people so that they could not go beyond the social boundaries that were put in place (Gurr, 1989). The terrorism campaign that was initiated by KKK group was perpetuated by other groups that were less formal but still carried out their activities equally effectively for a long period of time.
The KKK appeared again in the year 1915 and also after the Second World War ending (Webb, 2002). When this group came up again in 1915, it remained to be anti-black the same as it had been before. However, at that particular time it was more inclined towards being an anti-foreign organization (Lutz & Lutz, 2009).
The group was against foreign ideas and particularly those ideas that were deemed to be radical. They were also against any person who was not willing to abide by the fundamentally Protestant religious principles as well as morals which were dominant in their membership views (Chalmers, 1965, p.33).
This group was not limited to the states in the south despite the fact it was most powerful in this area. In a large number of other regions, the group was effective in employing violence and terror in the enforcement of its position in order to ensure maintenance of social influence over the black people among other target groups (Webb, 2002).
Using lynching as a means to attain social control received public backing among the Whites (Hofstadter, 1970). This group mostly vanished by the period the U.S engaged in the Second World War. The last form of this group appeared again after the Second World War coming to an end with the intention of responding to the struggle for civil rights and it still engaged in the acts of terrorism (Lutz & Lutz, 2009).
However, it is pointed out that at this point the group could not be regarded as being a successful group because it did not succeed in achieving any of the goals it had set of continual social control as well as discrimination (Lutz & Lutz, 2009).
Basing on the discussion, it can be concluded and highlighted that the Ku Klux Klan was actually a terrorist organization. This is found to be true when the organization’s activities are considered basing on the present day standards as well as definitions. This organization was formed with an intention of engaging in various violent activities which were intended to terrorize some particular quarters of the American society.
The organization came up and then disappeared, however, appeared again twice in the course of time. However, considering the activities they engaged in at different times in history, they were actually terrorist acts. Several authors that have been presented in this discussion kept referring to the organization as a terrorist group and none of them at any particular point referred to it as being a peaceful organization.
They tortured people, raped women, burned down churches and schools among other terrorist activities. The group was against foreign ideas and particularly those deemed to be radical.
This group was not limited to the states in the south even if it was most powerful in the area but also operated in a large number of other regions. The group was effective in employing violence and terror in the enforcement of the position they held in order to ensure there was maintaining of social influence on the black people, foreigners as well as radicals.
Chalmers, D. M. (1965). Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan. New York: Quadrangle Books.
Gurr, T. R. (1989). Political Terrorism: Historical Antecedents and Contemporary Trends. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Hofstadter, R. (1970). Reflections on Violence in the United States. New York, N.Y: Alfred A. Knopf.
Ku Klux Klan in Alabama during the Reconstruction Era, (2010). Retrieved from http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-2934
Lutz, J.M. & Lutz, B.J. (2009). How successful is terrorism? New York, N.Y: Forum on Public Policy.
Webb, C. (2002). Politics, Society, and the Klan in Alabama, 1915-1949 by Glenn Feldman. Journal of American Studies, 36(2), 347-348.