Earlier in the week, I finally got to see the famous or infamous 1915 epic, “Birth of a Nation.” From what I heard, the movie’s glorification of the Ku Klux Klan was controversial even at the time. I watched the film partly because I’ve had a long fascination with racial attitudes in the times before I was born.
The producer, D.W. Griffith, was born in the South as you would expect from a supporter of the KKK. It’s hard to pinpoint his attitude toward blacks exactly, but in the film a couple of blacks who stayed with their masters after reconstruction were portrayed as “loyal.” I suspect movie codes prevented him from overtly describing black men as would-be rapists lusting after white women. Instead, a “mulatto” named Lieutenant Governor by the evil northern carpetbaggers and scalawags tries to pressure the virtuous white heroine into marrying him. So, Griffith used movie codes to appeal to those who believed blacks were out for only one thing—intermarriage with whites. In the movie, a white woman responds to the pressure by jumping off a cliff to her death after apparently deciding that marrying a black man was a fate worse than death.
For some reason not made clear in the movie, an evil coalition of blacks and federal troops attempts to break into a cabin occupied by a couple of former federal troops who realize that forced equality with blacks is a terrible thing and who offer shelter to white southern victims of federal government reconstruction. In the climactic scene of the 200-minute film, some 50 or more white-hooded KKK members rescue the beleaguered whites in the nick of time and drive off the evil blacks and feds.
The hero, a former Confederate officer has decided white Southerners have become so oppressed, he must take drastic action. So he concocted the idea of rallying the oppressed whites, clothing them in hooded white costumes, and urging them to “terrorize” their oppressors.
That word leaped out at me. Back in 1915, Griffith pretty much acknowledged the KKK as a terrorist group. Yet, 95 years later, how many Americans are willing to admit that? Apparently, in today’s political correctness, the only people we’re allowed to call terrorists are Muslims. Some won’t even admit abortion-clinic bombers are terrorists.
The message I get on these cyberpages is that the way to deal with Irish Republican Army, KKK, Salvadoran death squad, and abortion-clinic bombing thugs is to provide them with fair trials while declaring Muslims engaged in similar activities as “enemy combatants” and sending them off to places like Abu Ghraib for torture. I have yet to understand who gets to decide whiich suspects are “enemy combatants,” which aren’t, who gets to make that decision and what criteria the decision-makers use. Maybe some of you smart people out there can set me straight.
For a geezer like me, a combatant was a member of the uniformed military in a nation at war. The way I was taught, before you went to war, Congress had to declare it. That’s considered old-fashioned today, even by those who consider themselves strict constructionists on the Constitution. Apparently, the argument is that Congress can amend the Constitution simply by passing a law which essentially abdicates its responsibility and turns it over to the president. I’m no constitutional law expert, but I thought there was a process for amending the constitution that spelled out how to do so. That process involved a vote of the people and ratification by a big majority of the states.
In the meantime, it seems to me, we are left with some politicians and federal bureaucrats with the power to decide which criminal suspects are “combatants.” Apparently, any civilian can be considered a “combatant” if it’s politically correct to do so.
Here in the US, Muslim terrorists killed close to 3,000 Americans on American soil, most of them on 9/11/2001. I went on the internet to ask how many American murders have been attributed to the KKK. Answers.com provided the number 2,068,523. I did the arithmetic and came up with the statistic that for every American murdered by a Muslim terrorist, some 667 were murdered by a KKK terrorist. Now, how many of these guys actually took up arms against the US from 1861 to 1865? Griffith would have us believe quite a few. In other words, some KKK members actually had been real live enemy combatants.
It would be interesting to see how many KKK members were stripped naked and forced to watch the King James version of the bible flushed down the toilet at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo.
One person has suggested that American terrorist suspects deserve due process but foreign terrorist suspects do not. I’m unaware of any court decisions denying the right of due process to non-US citizens. But, even granting that, I wonder if it’s okay to kidnap, torture and declare as enemy combatants suspected IRA, contra and South African death squad terrorists in places like Abu Ghraib and Gitmo.
So, what are the principles here in this system of laws, not men? When do Muslims become guilty until proven innocent, who gets to make that call, and when do such suspects forfeit their right to due process?
Anyone out there interested in answering these questions? Or will folks go back to the usual name-calling, accusations against me personally and taking the position that I have to answer your questions, but you’re entitled to duck mine?