“ISIS is no worse than the KKK”
A certain strain exists within American society, a portion of our population who believes evil’s root causes are all white, male and Christian. This culminates in the amazing belief that Muslim terrorist organizations like ISIS, responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people over just the last several years, warrant no special attention. Adherents of this belief continually downplay the blatant and obvious international threat posed by ISIS and its ilk, while simultaneously bringing up long-ago atrocities in a desperate attempt to find moral equivalence between Islamic terrorism and American culture. This desire to find something, anything, comparable to ISIS evil led even our own President to talk about the Crusades during a recent prayer breakfast.
Consider that for a moment. An army of Muslim fanatics is killing thousands of people, invading an allied country, executing prisoners in unspeakable ways and even televising the brutal decapitations of American citizens. And for no reason I can think of, our President brings up events hundreds of years old. Maybe in an attempt to convince us, “We’re just as bad.”
A few days ago the Huffington Post, mouthpiece of the “we’re evil too” crowd, published something – and I know this is nearly impossible to believe – far more ridiculous than normal. This is the title of their article:
KKK Was Terrorizing America Decades Before Islamic State Appeared
“For David Pilgrim, the founder and director of the Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State University, the actions of ISIS and other extremist groups are familiar — no better, no worse than the historic stateside violence against African-Americans. ‘There’s nothing you’re going to see today that’s not going to have already occurred in the U.S.,’ he said. ‘If you think of these groups that behead now — first of all, beheading is barbaric but it’s no more or less barbaric than some of the lynchings that occurred in the U.S.’”
On its face it’s a ridiculous comparison. ISIS is a huge, well-funded and powerful organization full of fanatical zealots willing to carry out the most brutal crimes imaginable in order to bring about their prophesied Muslim apocalypse. In barely a year ISIS has invaded a country, captured cities and besieged others, massacred many thousands of innocents, taken at least hundreds of slaves, forced young girls to become “wives”, attempted genocide and is now destroying the historical treasures of the cradle of civilization.
Yes the Klan was, and is, a repulsive organization responsible for many horrible crimes. But how can it possibly be “no better or worse than ISIS”?
I’m a literal guy. As a writer, if I say “the car is red” I don’t mean “the red car represents the angst and polarization of humanity throughout millennia.” I mean the car is red. As a cop and combat soldier, I can’t indulge in hyperbole; I have to understand actual, literal realities. So when I read the HuffPo’s comparison between ISIS and the Klan, I had to check myself. “Maybe this isn’t as stupid as it seems,” I thought. “This has to be some non-literal point. If I look deeper, I’ll see the validity.”
So I looked at it with an open mind. And I concluded, “This is even stupider than I originally thought.”
Differences of scale
HuffPo’s article was, I think, trying to say the Klan and ISIS were no different in principle. Fair enough. But differences in scale matter too.
According to the HuffPo article, “[A] study [by Alabama’s Equal Justice Initiative] found almost 3,960 African-Americans were lynched from 1877 to 1950 — a number that supersedes previous estimates by at least 700.”
So for 73 years, the Klan lynched about 54 people per year. That’s horrible. The Klansmen who committed those murders deserved death. Those who assisted deserved to spend the rest of their lives in prison. But the Klan, when sheer numbers are compared, doesn’t come close to ISIS.
Two articles from the Daily Beast, hardly a conservative news source, highlight just how powerful and dangerous ISIS really is. The first article reports that “Iraq Body Count”, an organization that’s tracked Iraqi deaths almost since the beginning of the Iraq War, tallied 15,883 ISIS-caused Iraqi deaths from January 1st to November 30th, 2014.
The second article cites a UN report detailing ISIS’ brutal treatment of Muslims. ISIS fighters have, among other crimes, executed women for refusing to care for wounded ISIS fighters, killed a female doctor for not covering her face while treating patients, executed Muslims for refusing to swear loyalty to ISIS, and destroyed mosques led by imams who wouldn’t swear loyalty to ISIS.
Oddly enough, this August 2014 article is from the Huffington Post. It cites several important numbers: soldiers from five nations have been directly engaged by ISIS fighters; 300 Yazidi women are known to have been taken as slaves by ISIS; and 1,922 Iraqi civilians, soldiers and police were killed by ISIS in June 2014 alone. Zero is listed as the number of openly practicing Christians left in Mosul since ISIS seized control.
Yet after all this, HuffPo writes that ISIS is no worse than the Klan.
As bad as it was, the Klan was always a regional threat that lacked grand global aims. It didn’t launch mass assaults or capture hundreds of slaves, nor did it proudly televise mass executions. The Klan’s evil was nowhere near the scale of ISIS’ evil. And unless you believe a thousand murders are no worse than a single murder, scale is important.
If scale isn’t important, if “any bad” equals “the worst bad”, then we can make these Huffington Post-like comparisons:
Slavery by blacks in the United States was just as bad as slavery by whites.
In a very interesting and widely ignored article, the black website The Root reports that free blacks owned slaves “in each of the thirteen original states and later in every state that countenanced slavery,” and had owned slaves since at least since 1654… “Free blacks owned slaves in Boston by 1724 and in Connecticut by 1783; by 1790, 48 black people in Maryland owned 143 slaves.”
Some free black slave owners in Louisiana even requested, and were granted, permission to serve in the Confederate Army. Just before the Civil War’s outbreak the black slave owners wrote, “The free colored population [native] of Louisiana … own slaves, and they are dearly attached to their native land … and they are ready to shed their blood for her defense. They have no sympathy for abolitionism; no love for the North, but they have plenty for Louisiana … They will fight for her in 1861 as they fought [to defend New Orleans from the British] in 1814-1815.”
And black Africans played a huge part in the slave trade. “Several nations such as the Ashanti of present-day Ghana and the Yoruba of present-day Nigeria were involved in slave-trading… Historians John Thornton and Linda Heywood have provided an estimate that Africans captured and then sold to Europeans around 90% of those who were shipped in the Atlantic slave trade. Henry Louis Gates, the Harvard Chair of African and African American Studies, has stated that ‘without complex business partnerships between African elites and European traders and commercial agents, the slave trade to the New World would have been impossible, at least on the scale it occurred.’” It’s also worth pointing out that the African nation of Mauritania just outlawed slavery in 2007, although about 20% of its population is still thought to be slaves.
Since scale doesn’t matter, the HuffPo staff should agree that blacks are just as guilty of perpetuating slavery as whites. I’ll hold my breath waiting for them to publish an article decrying the “black privilege” legacy of black slaveowners.
Black racist organizations are just as bad as white racist organizations
In 1973 and 1974, a small group of black racists in San Francisco called the “Death Angels” murdered fourteen mostly white victims and wounded eight others. The attacks were usually random shootings of unsuspecting whites, but some were complex and horrific. One white couple was kidnapped and hacked with machetes after two of the killers fondled the wife (her husband survived). A homeless white man was kidnapped, bound and dismembered while still conscious. The killers were eventually arrested after a member of their group turned on them in exchange for immunity.
And then there’s the New Black Panther Party, which even some original Black Panthers disavow as violent and racist. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the New Black Panther Party as “a virulently racist and anti-Semitic organization whose leaders have encouraged violence against whites, Jews and law enforcement officers.” One of their leaders, King Samir Shabazz, was quoted saying this in a 2009 National Geographic documentary: “I hate white people. All of them. Every last iota of a cracker, I hate it… You want freedom? You going to have to kill some crackers! You going to have to kill some of their babies!” Another leader, Malik Zulu Shabazz, in 2002 shouted outside a synagogue, “Kill every goddamn Zionist in Israel! Goddamn little babies, goddamn old ladies! Blow up Zionist supermarkets!”
The Death Angels and New Black Panthers accomplished nothing on the scale of the Klan’s reign of terror over southern blacks. They committed nowhere near 3,960 lynchings. But following HuffPo’s logic, they’re “no better, no worse”, than the KKK. Which makes black racist organizations no better, no worse, than ISIS. Since, you know, scale doesn’t matter.
I’m sure HuffPo’s next article will be headlined, “Black Racists were terrorizing America decades before Islamic State appeared.”
I can only think of one possible defense for HuffPo’s article: “They just published it. That doesn’t mean they agree with it.” Which makes sense, and explains why HuffPo has published the following articles:
“Why George W. Bush was the best president in American history”
“The Iraq War: blueprint for perfection in all future wars”
“The Democratic party should abandon Hillary Clinton for lying about being under sniper fire”
“A friendly chat with the head of the Tea Party”
Wait…maybe HuffPo hasn’t published those articles, since they obviously don’t agree with them. All web sites publish articles the staff and readers agree with. It’s safe to assume HuffPo and its readers agree that ISIS is no worse than the Klan.
That opinion is ridiculous, and ultimately useless. If in a thousand years the “Christian State of America and Canada” is doing exactly what ISIS is doing today, what purpose would it serve to point out “but others have done bad things too”?
Nearly every culture that ever existed committed some type of atrocity against someone. That doesn’t mean we dismiss atrocities committed today, simply because someone want us to feel perpetually guilty about long-ago crimes. The proper response to ISIS’ evil isn’t self-loathing from moral weaklings riddled with White Guilt.
Sorry HuffPo, but White Guilt won’t win this war. You and your readers keep responding to ISIS by berating yourselves for crimes you never committed. The rest of us will be too busy fighting evil to worry about things we’re not responsible for.
Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at email@example.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).
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Tags: Huffington Post, ISIS, veteran writers