Ku Klux Klan
Just as the cross has inspired millions of Christians to stand up for life, to fight for freedom and to come alongside victims of oppression, there have also been times when the cross has been twisted. And a twisted cross becomes a swastika.
A symbol of love can become a weapon. The icon of redemption can become an instrument of terror.
In his 20s, while a student at the University of Maryland, Aitcheson was charged with making bomb threats, manufacturing pipe bombs, and threatening to kill Coretta Scott King in a letter.
Aitcheson pleaded guilty to several cross burnings, including one in the front yard of an African-American couple in 1977.
HATRED HAS gotten a facelift. With the help of internet technology and cyberspace marketing, once-decrepit organizations like the Ku Klux Klan are regaining their youthful energy and competing for the attention of increasingly educated audiences. ... Behind the virtual makeover hides the same old-fashioned hatred that bigots have always promoted.
The internet has given hate groups ample reason to feel young again. In the United States, online bigots enjoy full protection under the First Amendment and have access to a potentially limitless audience. Webmasters are anonymous and difficult to silence; leaders suffer few consequences for their followers’ actions. And their strategies for organizational growth are beginning to look more corporate than cross-lit. ...
Virtual haters twist scripture into a white-power pretzel. The most common version of their convoluted hermeneutics is “Identity” thought, a theology that uses the Bible to justify racism and to prophesy apocalyptic judgment against non-white, non-Aryan races.
Identity sites are often eye-glazingly similar. Scripture is quoted at great length and with great gusto. Jews are the seen as the “anti-Christ” or “Satan’s seed.” Persons of color are deemed the “Unchosen” or “mud people.” Self-preservation of the white race becomes an imperative for true “Christians,” regardless of the personal costs involved.
This is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared in the September/October 2000 issue of Sojourners. Read the full article here.
Signer issued a statement on May 13, criticizing the torch-carrying marchers as either “profoundly ignorant” or aiming to instill fear.
“I smell Jew,” posted an anonymous Twitter user with the handle “Great Patriot Trump.” “If so, you are going back to Israel. But you will not stay in power here. Not for long.”
THEY CAME TO the front and waited to speak with me. They were weeping.
The day before, I sat in the front seat of a packed car. Five beautiful black women, including one of the women now in tears, rolled toward Marion, Ind.—the site of the last public lynching in the North.
On the sweltering summer night of Aug. 7, 1930, three African-American teenagers—Thomas Shipp, Abram Smith, and James Cameron—sat huddled in their jail cells in Marion. Thousands of white men, women, and children gathered outside the jailhouse, screaming and jeering—demanding blood. The three were charged with the ultimate sin against whiteness—killing a white man and raping a white woman. They were dragged from the jailhouse, beaten, and strung up on a low-hanging tree branch a block away on the courthouse square, in the center of town. For some reason, Cameron was spared. The other two were not.
The town photographer captured the moment: The mob congregated like lions around mangled prey. Lips licked, satisfied grins splayed across the faces of young women and old women, young men and old men. Floral dresses, white shirts with buckled pants, and hats atop straight-backed heads covered bursting egos as they reveled in victory. One man pointed to their ritual sacrifice, and that moment became an iconic illustration of American lynching.
The condemnation came too little, too late, Jewish groups said.
On Feb. 21, President Trump condemned anti-Semitism, as Jewish leaders had been asking him to do for months.
“The President’s sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Anti-Semitism that has infected his own Administration,” said Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, in a statement on Feb. 21 after Trump called anti-Semitism “horrible.”
In one of his last official acts, President Obama has designated Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, and other civil rights landmarks in Birmingham, Ala., as the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument.
The designation protects the historic A.G. Gaston Motel in that city, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders had their 1963 campaign headquarters, as well as Kelly Ingram Park, where police turned hoses and dogs on civil rights protesters. And it includes the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, where four girls died in 1963, after the Ku Klux Klan detonated 19 sticks of dynamite outside the church basement.
Let us not forget the impact that D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation had on America when it was released in 1915. An adaptation of the novel The Clansman: A Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan, there’s little doubt in my mind that the film’s racist depictions of African Americans and affirming depictions of Klansmen formed and hardened the discriminatory beliefs of many white people in the U.S., making them further believe that black people were undeserving of fairness, respect, and freedom. The Birth of a Nation is a prime example of why we need new stories, told from the perspective of identities that are generally ignored and denigrated.
The high school I went to, on Long Island, taught me a lot about race. I learned about overt racism, and what we now call microaggressions.
Over a quarter of a century later, I am under no delusions that we live in a post-racial society.
I fear now, as I have feared for months, the impact of his presidency on vulnerable people — including the white and working-class voters in places like my home state of Ohio who lent him their support.
Christians always have disagreements about policy proposals or party platforms during election seasons. But this year, I wonder how white Christians who read the same Scriptures and hold many of the same beliefs that I do could support a man who in word and deed has flaunted the core teachings of our faith.
So there was a gloom and reverence with which I walked through the first three levels of the museum, and with which many of the people around me also seemed to travel. We were in the presence of ruins from days when black bodies were treated like cattle and felled like sugar cane crops. We were staring at the adornments of Ku Klux Klan members, at shards of glass from the 16th Street Baptist Church, and we were doing so only days after yet another police shooting of yet another unarmed black man. Death was in the air, and we were the bereaved.
On Dec. 28, just before New Year’s Day, a Cleveland grand jury declined to indict the officers who killed Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who had been playing with a toy gun in a park near his home. For many, the news resounded as yet one more tragic refrain in the long litany of our nation’s utter disregard for Black lives. Extinguished in the innocence of childhood, without even a second thought.
I started my Tennessee sabbatical with a story about three peace activists who recently shut down the Y12 bomb plant here in Oak Ridge with a stunning protest, armed only with a bible and flowers.
I figure I’ll end my sabbatical with another great story of East Tennessee mischief.
This is the story of one of my favorite flash-mob actions, which happened right here in Knoxville. And this year marks its five-year anniversary.
It all happened on May 26, 2007.
Word had begun to spread that a group of white supremacists — including members of the KKK — were converging here in Knoxville, Tenn., for a rally in a park downtown. It was on the news and in the papers.
Many locals were pretty upset by the public display of racism and hatred. Even though many of the folks connected to the hate-group were coming from other states, they had obtained a permit to gather and publicly proclaim their hate-filled message of White Power.
But they had no idea what was coming.
A group of locals had decided neither to cower away in fear nor to fight fire with fire....Instead they decided to meet hatred with humor.
"Continuing a cycle of violence through state-sanctioned actions does not bring justice but only creates a culture of death and retribution. As a pro-life Christian, I believe the execution of Troy Davis shows a failure of moral leadership by both our country and the state of Georgia. The doubt surrounding the case of Troy Davis has served as a wake-up call to many in this country that our justice system is flawed and should not hold the power of life and death over any person. Justice should restore and heal, not destroy." -- Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis statement today, Friday Sept. 23
More Than Equals, co-authored by Chris Rice and the late Spencer Perkins, is considered one of the pivotal books in the Christian racial reconciliation movement that found its greatest momentum in the early and mid-1990s.