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Down with the Klan and down with Israel

Letter to the Editor | Friday, September 8, 2006

James Dechant makes a crucial point in his Sept. 7 column “Terrorism can be born at home” – groups like the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), who recently marched in Gettysburg, are homegrown American terrorist organizations. While there is such a focus on terrorism abroad, American official society is unwilling to admit that there are racial terrorists springing right out of the belly of American civilization.

I would take this point further – we see a deep-seated white supremacy in this country far larger than the Klan when we observe the differences between how white and non-white “terrorism” are handled by our rulers. When fascist groups organize to lynch people of color, Jews and queer folks, you don’t see the publication of hundreds of shoddy books talking about the degradation of “the White mind,” you don’t see a massive FBI dragnet that racially profiles white people because they might be Klansmen, you don’t see polite people talking in disdain about the lack of civilization that characterizes white society and you don’t see academics holding conferences on how Christianity breeds terror and is incompatible with democracy and modernity. And yet while the Klan marches, pundits continue to babble about how to control the Arab and Muslim savages.

I agree with Dechant that the Klan and groups like them are not merely fringe elements that can be easily ignored. They must be vigorously confronted by everyday people. While we welcome and defend all immigrants, we must say that it is these white racial terrorists who have no right to be citizens of the multiracial, anti-racist and democratic polities we wish to call home.

Dechant is right about the fact that the Klan and Neo-Nazi groups often talk about the “destruction of the ‘Zionist state’ of Israel.” But defending everyday Jewish folks from the Klan is not the same thing as defending the state and ruling class of Israel from anti-colonial movements. I have marched against neo-Nazis who were trampling on Israeli flags, but I nevertheless maintain a principled opposition to Zionism. Zionism is that ideology which attempts to equate the identity and heritage of the Jewish people with a defense of the state and ruling class of Israel. But Zionism is not the same thing as Jewish identity; there are anti-Zionist Jews as well as non-Jewish, even anti-Semitic Zionists.

Zionism has its own white supremacy complex; it conceives of Israel as the vanguard of Western civilization in a sea of Arab barbarism (ironic considering that it was the white supremacy of Europe that had earlier targeted the Jewish people for destruction). The Zionist state of Israel was born as a settler state under the auspices of a British colonialism that explicitly mapped the world according to advanced and backwards races, placing Jewish leaders as junior partners in whiteness who could keep the Arabs in check. Now it continues as the front line of an American Empire that clings to this legacy by talking instead of advanced and backwards cultures. The result is Jim-Crow-style segregation across Palestine, over 50 years of ethnic cleaning and mass graves in Southern Lebanon. These should make the Zionist movement indefensible in the eyes of any anti-racist.

The founding of a true democracy will require anti-racists who can march against the KKK and the Neo-Nazis under banners reading “Down with White Supremacy! Down with Anti-Semitism! Down with the state of Israel! Down with the American Empire!” Each of these, in its own way, is an ugly face of white supremacy today and each must be dismantled from below.

Matthew Hamilton

graduate student


Sept. 7