PNS: Black Americans Know America Was Never Free Of Terror

While mainstream America searches its collective soul for answers to the "new" problem of terrorism, we African Americans ask ourselves -- since when has America been free of terror?For over 200 years in this country black people were forced to live in enslavement, only to face another 100 years of lynchings, Jim Crow laws, the destruction and mass murder of African American towns and business districts throughout the South, and in recent decades, the unraveling of the Civil Rights laws, the bombing of the MOVE headquarters in Philadelphia, the ongoing incarceration of masses of young American Americans, the forced removal of black families in the public housing projects of San Francisco -- America's equivalent of ethnic cleansing.So many experiences may have dulled our senses to the recent acts of terrorism carried out against innocent Americans. But make no mistake: the new round of laws President Clinton and Congress now want passed to keep America safe -- more wire tap authority, more police, more jails, more security -- will have blacks, the poor and other people of color as their primary targets.Ten months after a million black men convened at the Washington Mall to reconcile ourselves with each other and with the Most High, America's greatest fear isn't another Susan Smith or a Timothy McVeigh or a Unabomber. Its greatest secret fear is the Black Urban Terrorist. The great slave rebel Denmark Vessy, his successor Nat Turner, and the modern-day prison rebel George Jackson lurk in the subconscious of this nation like Freddy Krueger.Imagine, for a moment, if the suspect in the Atlanta bombing were a member of Farrakhan's Nation of Islam. Every ghetto in the Atlanta area would have been turned upside down in an effort to find the perpetrator. And the Nation would be persecuted out of existence, just as the Black Panther Party was.After the TWA Flight 800 went down the U.S. government demanded that Sudan, Libya, Iran and Iraq be immediately sanctioned as sponsors of worldwide terrorism. These are the very countries Minister Louis Farrakhan, convenor of the Million Man March, toured late last year, calling them "our brothers."The irony is that even as black people are coming under every kind of attack possible, crime in most major cities has gone down considerably. The very communities with the most reasons to use terrorist tactics to gain attention and highlight their grievances instead are moving the discussion away from politics and toward the spiritual realm. On October 16, 1997, the same black Muslims who convened the Million Man March are calling for a World Wide Day of atonement in New York City.Forty years ago, two white men came to Moses Wright's house in Mississippi and asked for his 14-year-old great-nephew who earlier that day was reported to have called a white woman "baby." The next time Wright saw Emmet Till, his mangled body was being fished out of the Tallahachee river, unrecognizable save for a ring that held Wright's initials, MW.At the subsequent trial, Mr. Wright was asked to identify who had come for Emmet in the night. Pointing at the two white defendants, he said, simply: "Dar He."The two white terrorists walked. Forty years later, America still hasn't heard Moses Wright's message. Copywrite Pacific News Service, San Francisco, CA

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