American Terror is Not New

There were hate crimes before Donald Trump ran for president, most of them sanctioned by the state, including anti-black violence, as old as white settlement on this continent, says Margaret Kimberley of Black Agenda Report.
American Terror is Not New

By Margaret Kimberley
Black Agenda Report

The casual, endemic and racist violence that characterizes American behavior at home and abroad cannot be laid at the doorstep of the current buffoon in the White House.

Within the past week very disturbing and violent events took place in quick succession across the country. Two black people were shot to death in a Louisville, Kentucky supermarket. The white shooter made it clear that his goal was to kill black people when he said, “Whites don’t shoot whites,” as he was apprehended. No sooner had this crime occurred than a Florida man was arrested and charged with sending explosive devices to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, George Soros, Maxine Waters, and Eric Holder among others. One day later a shooting at a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania synagogue left 11 people dead.

The unnamed suspect in all of these cases is Donald Trump. The bombing suspect made clear his love for the 45th president. He was described by his attorney as a previously apolitical man who nonetheless “found a father in Donald Trump.” The Louisville killing is the latest in a long line carried out by white racists. Anti-black violence is as old as white settlement on this continent.

1863 Medical examination photo of Gordon showing his scourged back, widely distributed by Abolitionists to expose the brutality of slavery. (Wikipedia)

Analysis of these recent incidents must be made very carefully. Trump differs from his predecessors mostly by tearing away the veneer of humanity and civility from a system which is relentlessly brutal. But the façade keeps many would-be terrorists from carrying out their sick fantasies. There are people who keep their hatred to themselves until they know that they may be given some cover and acceptance. Hatred expressed by a president emboldens people who might not ordinarily act upon their racist impulses.

It is very dangerous for these hidden haters to think they can come out of their closets. At the same time we cannot forget that a racist shooter succeeded in entering a black church in Charleston, South Carolina and killing nine people in 2015 when Barack Obama was president. The most prevalent racially motivated murders are carried out by police across the country when they kill an average of 300 black people every year.

It is a mistake to see Trump as a singular evil in American history. He is also not an anomaly among world leaders. An avowed fascist just won a presidential race in Brazil. White supremacists march openly in European countries like Ukraine where the Obama administration helped to overthrow an elected president and install Nazis among the new leadership. Fascism is carried out daily not only by the police but by the neoliberal state and by the military as it carries out a war of terror all over the world.

The current moment is perilous and requires serious analysis. Trump is the low hanging fruit in any discussion of racism and other forms of bigotry. But the country cannot be given a pass and allowed to behave as if all was well until he was elected.White people cannot play innocent and black people can’t relax when the day comes that he is out office.

Trump Given Pass for Raising Nuclear Danger  

If Trump can be connected to all of these incidents it should be with the knowledge that the entire country is suffering from a terrible sickness that few want to confront. Americans prefer to think well of themselves and their nation and treat any information contradicting that belief as an inconvenience to be avoided at all costs. There were hate crimes before Donald Trump ran for president and most of them weren’t carried out by individuals. Most of them are still sanctioned by the state.

The crazed Trump lover may have tried to send bombs to Obama and Clinton but they sent bombs to Libya and destroyed a nation that still suffers from their terrorist acts. They are quite literally guilty of committing hate crimes, along with other NATO leaders and their predecessors in high places. The fact that they know how to express diplomatic niceties is no reason to see them as being on our side as we fight to defeat fascism at home and around the world.

Their enablers cannot be given a pass either. When we fight to make war and peace a political issue we are derided as purists and spoilers who ought to be quiet and allow imperialism to take place without hindrance. The people who join in the chorus of denunciation should not be allowed to wring their hands when dead bodies appear within our borders too.

If they want to denounce Trump they had an excellent opportunity recently. Trump announced that the United States was withdrawing unilaterally from the INF missile treaty with Russia. This decision quite literally puts the world closer to nuclear war. But the liberal Trump haters have had very little to say about a policy change which quite literally endangers all life on the planet. The numbers of people who realize the danger and speak against this action is minuscule, unlike the near unanimous condemnation of racist gun men and the would-be mail bomber.

We have always lived in a very dangerous nation. Trump makes it more difficult to be in denial. But we must fight against the crowd which averts its eyes until a racist buffoon enters the White House. There is nothing new about American terrorism. It can be found in high and low places regardless of presidential civility or lack thereof.

This article originally appeared on

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well at . Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)

39 comments for “American Terror is Not New

  1. November 4, 2018 at 08:59

    White nationalists cheering the military as we pretend to fight invaders. This is what we’ve become. Don Quixote.

    American terrorists is exactly right. Y’all Qaeda.

  2. Oscar Romero
    November 3, 2018 at 12:55

    All this is so true. It makes me think of the2 Saudi sisters who were probably murdered on orders of MBS. Not exactly a US state crime but connections are do and it will probably be covered up unless people keep writing about it.

  3. November 3, 2018 at 11:58

    “It [violence] is as American as cherry pie.”

    H Rap Brown

  4. EJK
    November 3, 2018 at 09:45

    Love the great Ms. Kimberley, but please get rid if the new “Classic Typewriter” font!

    • November 3, 2018 at 17:47


  5. Sasha
    November 3, 2018 at 09:41

    When I read “whites don’t kill whites,” it immediately reminded me of “democracies don’t go to war with democracies.” The parallel is the gist of the piece.

  6. Antonio Costa
    November 3, 2018 at 07:21

    Perfectly stated!

  7. November 2, 2018 at 20:57

    As a Stein voter one of the things that most infuriates me from Clinton people is how they’ll chastise me for my “privilege”. I’m poverty stricken and have been most of my life, and figured Clinton would be much better for ME than Trump. But I also have empathy for the billions of non-Americans who suffer by the hundreds of millions due to our insane psychotic warmongering. And on that, I figured Clinton would be at least as bad as Trump and likely much, much worse.

    These Clinton fans either don’t recognize or don’t care that they have a huge privilege by being American. And they hardly ever weigh consequences of our politicians for 95% of humans on the planet. This is also similar to lauding Clinton or Obama for their feminism or what they did for poor people (let’s just assume this is in any way true domestically) while not counting or even mentioning the billion or more poor people, brown people, and women that their choices led to ruin, death, rape, slavery, and hopeflessness, as Margaret notes. Ugh!

  8. Antonio Costa
    November 2, 2018 at 18:44

    Great article.

  9. Anne Jaclard
    November 2, 2018 at 16:05

    This new font is hard to read and unpleasant to the eyes. Wish CN would change back but no chance. Great article though.

  10. Tennegon
    November 2, 2018 at 14:07

    This is a most compelling article, the likes of which we should see more of in our society’s discourse. For me it evokes the ideals of Dr. King, with its honest depiction of the true issue. Thank you, CN, for posting it.

    It is my first time reading this author’s writing, but I will be certain that it is not my last.

    • November 2, 2018 at 19:27

      Her work appears on

  11. DonK
    November 2, 2018 at 12:58

    Please join the United States of America. Being a nationalist means being a devoted white, black, brown, yellow, or red CITIZEN.
    The more you are a part of the nation, the better off you will be. When you single yourself out for special attention, it hurts the nation. That goes for all of the colors named above, and more if they exist.
    Minorities can dwell in the past, and aggravate grudges. White people will soon be among the minorities. I have not expressed a problem with that, nor do I have a problem with that, as long as the grudges are forgotten.
    Nobody alive today, and born in the USA, participated in legal slavery. Few supported Jim Crow, and they are dying fast. It’s been a matter of content of character, rather than color of skin, for the great majority of Americans for a long time now.
    As to the nuclear issue, …not with a bang, but with a whimper–still goes.

    • Oscar Romero
      November 3, 2018 at 12:58

      Perhaps you would benefit from reading some alternative history, like A People’s History of the United States.

  12. November 2, 2018 at 12:16

    Excellent piece. The hyped-up outrage over these violent incidents is always orchestrated by the media to fit their agenda. The public is so easily manipulated it’s absurd. Eleven deaths at the hands of a madman is very sad, yes. The millions that have occurred because of the cold calculation of the U.S. government is a crime against humanity that will go on and on until the population finally wakes up or goes extinct.

  13. T
    November 2, 2018 at 11:46

    Dear Ms Kimberley,

    Thanks for “telling it like it is”!

  14. mike k
    November 2, 2018 at 08:21

    America has exhibited a deep strain of cruelty and violence from it’s founding days. Genocide of Native Americans and slavery of Africans make that clear. All of that continues to define the real American character underneath all the pretty window dressing of ideals used as a cover.

    • November 3, 2018 at 06:03

      The notion that America has a monopoly on cruelty, violence, slavery and genocide is false. Yes… America has a bloody history but so do most other nations on Earth and in equal amounts. Whether we want to discuss Stalin, overall communism, Hitler, Pol Pot, China, Russia and even Africa… heck, Muslims used to raid the shores of Europe and collected up to a million European slaves… history is the great equalizer when it comes to pointing fingers.

      Does America need help… yes! In so many ways. Let’s focus on being Americans as the “real” American character has been and is today… helpful, patriotic, donating to good causes, protective of family/friends/the weak and sick…

      If we don’t, our minds will be enslaved by the rhetoric that sovereign nations are evil and centralization is good… the hive mind.

    November 2, 2018 at 07:14


    I have always tried to separate my personal life from my professional comments.

    At 76 (almost 77!) I have lived for fourteen years in a facility for the
    elderly, aka a so-called “community for assisted living” There is a management
    class and a goodly number of “aides” subservient to them. Management
    are white. Perhaps a mistake ? Not hardly. Once in all these years
    an on-site Executive Director was hired. The well-heeled well
    financed residents did not like being told what to do by someone black.
    She didn’t know her “place” perhaps. Our black
    Executive Director did not last long.. Of course, pressure may certainly have come
    from the all-white corporation which owns thisparticular community.

    The aides??? In all these years I do not recall one single white aide. They are
    all black, brown and beige. Some have two jobs. Many have families It is hard
    to make ends meet, we all know that. It is helpful if there is a husband if only
    to provide more income.

    And the rest of us residents…all white like me…seem never to notice a thing.

    It should be mentioned that the black aides do not complain. They do not want.
    to risk their income, do not want to lose hours. They work nights, sometimes
    double shifts.

    Those of us who are white pretend never to notice the most obvious of
    color lines.

    Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

    • Joe Tedesky
      November 2, 2018 at 23:31

      It’s good to hear from you Peter. Take care. Joe

      • Skip Scott
        November 4, 2018 at 07:54

        Hey Joe-

        Good to hear from you! I hope you and yours have been well. This recent phenomena of comments and articles disappearing and then reappearing is a real pain in the tookus. I’m hoping Joe Lauria will get around to addressing it before long. It seems to have run off B.E. and a few others as well.

        • Joe Tedesky
          November 4, 2018 at 14:44

          Nice of you to say hello Skip, hope you are well also. Outside of my not having much to comment about, I agree there is a lot of strange things happening here at the Consortium. Other than that I am getting a lot out of reading the many insightful comments posted here. Joe

          • PETER LOEB
            November 5, 2018 at 08:43

            Joe Tedesky, it’s always been great having you aboard.

            Re: The new face(book?) of Consortium: Your “getting a lot out of reading
            the many insightful comments posted here” means you have morphed to being
            PASSIVE recipient rather than an ACTIVE contributor.

            This change has enveloped me as well.

            I can be a contributor at odd times. But I remember the days when
            I no longer accepted my role as transformed from active o passive!!

            Peter Loeb, Boston, Ma

  16. michael
    November 2, 2018 at 06:37

    Martin Luther King Jr’s Riverside Church speech against Vietnam and War was probably his most important, as he pointed out the waste of blood, spirit and treasure that could be applied to myriad domestic troubles. For his stepping beyond a narrow Civil Rights focus, he was vilified by the New York Times and Washington Post and faced escalating harassment by government agencies (who his family felt was behind his assassination; the jurors agreed in his wrongful death trial). MLK always preached non-violent resistance but was challenged by young Black men over Vietnam, where extreme un-necessary violence and cruelty was American policy. It is impossible to slaughter people in military adventurism all over the world without having spillover and blowback into the domestic sphere. Much as it is impossible to have the CIA doing immoral illegal actions “on America’s behalf” without having the same methods applied domestically.

  17. Josep
    November 2, 2018 at 02:30

    While it’s commendable that Mrs. Kimberley is telling us about white-on-black violence, let’s not forget that black-on-white violence exists as well, especially with what’s going on in South Africa.
    One of the issues I have with much of the alt-right is their fixation on race and IQ. I will admit that racial differences do exist, but if you put your race and IQ above faith in Christ, then you have issues. Part of what turns me off is how parts of the alt-right embrace smears of “racist” or “anti-Semite” (that is, when used in the context of prejudice or discrimination) as if they were some badges of honor instead of dodging or refuting them. It’s almost as if moral values are completely disregarded altogether; heck, some even denounce Christianity altogether, favoring Darwinian evolution. What would Jesus do here?

    OT: What’s with the new font? I get that it’s more or less supposed to resemble the typography of an old newspaper, but I’m not sure whether other readers of this site will like it or not. (I don’t think it’s a Halloween thing; Halloween ended hours before I noticed this).

    • Oscar Romero
      November 3, 2018 at 13:11

      Josep, i truely believe you have mistaken information about South Africa. Many white nationalist sites are making claims like that. There is a lot of South African history that is being ignored.
      President Trump tweets are not always fact based. He had promoted that idea.
      There are many Forbes that disagree. Here is one:

      • Josep
        November 6, 2018 at 16:55

        Some of the comments in that article show some skepticism regarding the data. The ones that disagree with the article and complain about black-on-white violence tend to get more upvotes than downvotes. While I don’t find this to be a reliable indicator of reliability, I still stand by my statement that whites in South Africa are being attacked by blacks the same way whites used to attack blacks. One doesn’t need to be a white nationalist to see what’s going on in South Africa.

    • November 3, 2018 at 14:44

      Evolution is the way that it has been happening and is still happening, like it or not. Evolution has been abundantly confirmed by science and by real scientists since the time of Darwin. Knowledge and understanding have much advanced since Darwin but evolution still holds. Too bad if that offends your Christian sensibilities.

      One thing that can definitely be said about the Bible is that it is definitely NOT a scientific textbook. It is absurd and ridiculous to think that the accounts in Genesis are accounts of the way things actually happened. The accounts of creation in Genesis are ancient mythology, nothing more and nothing else. Mythology that has been glorified by having been included in a book, known to us as the “Holy” Bible, the so-called and so-regarded and alleged “inspired Word of God”.

      It is sad that anybody would still not accept evolution even 160 years after Darwin’s The Origin of Species, and after it has been abundantly confirmed by science. Evolution offends the sensibilities of many fundamentalist Christians and those in the Religious Right, who unfortunately happen to be in positions of power and influence in our society.

      • Josep
        November 6, 2018 at 17:04

        What I should have said was “Social Darwinism”, not “Darwinian evolution”. I didn’t think anyone would take it to look as if I’m discrediting the notion of evolution as a whole.

        • November 7, 2018 at 14:27

          OK, point taken. Sorry about the misunderstanding.

          Thanks for the clarification.

  18. robert browning
    November 1, 2018 at 22:17

    Kimberley is so correct. Trump has taken the veil off and fear filled Americans may, hopefully, be seeing their xenophobia finally.

  19. Kim Dixon
    November 1, 2018 at 14:49

    “If they want to denounce Trump they had an excellent opportunity recently. Trump announced that the United States was withdrawing unilaterally from the INF missile treaty with Russia. This decision quite literally puts the world closer to nuclear war. But the liberal Trump haters have had very little to say about a policy change which quite literally endangers all life on the planet. The numbers of people who realize the danger and speak against this action is minuscule, unlike the near unanimous condemnation of racist gun men and the would-be mail bomber.”

    And so Margaret Kimberley focuses on the most important issue of our time, and the most important issue in the history of humanity.

    The generations who’ve come of age after the fall of the Soviet Union don’t understand what nuclear weapons can do. They don’t realize that they have always been in mortal danger from an accident which could end civilization in an afternoon. Most importantly, never having lived through the 50s, 60s, and 70s, they never experienced the visceral fear of the instant annihilation of everyone and everything they’ve ever loved. The thought of Trump tearing up the INF Treaty in fealty to his Rooski Masters would be hilarious, if it didn’t bring the nuclear reaction time in Europe down to three minutes. As Stephen F Cohen points out, Republicans have always initiated detente, but this is the first time that reactionaries of both parties have opposed it, and the first time an American President has been called a traitor by mainstream politicians and pundits.

    The Democratic Party certainly isn’t about to educate them. Indeed, the Democrats (with the help of partisan media such as MSDNC) have managed to mutate most of their constituency into fear-freak Russophobes that have absolutely no idea how conservative they really are. These blind neo-McCarthyites at this point just assume that Russia is an enemy, and many are demanding retaliation for its utterly-unproven “interference” in American Election Theater. They know nothing about NATO aggression on Russia’s border, of course, and don’t give a damn that Obama kicked off a new, trillion-dollar nuclear arms race. Trump is horrible enough, but what will happen when President Harris/Booker comes into office, promising not to be weak, like Trump (!), in the face of “our greatest foe”?

    Who will be left to stand against the end of the world, when the average American is so suicidally suicidal?

    • mgr
      November 2, 2018 at 08:26


    • Steve
      November 2, 2018 at 10:01

      To be fair, Trump’s withdrawal from the INF treaty makes perfect sense. It’s a bilateral deal that one party (ze Russians) is clearly in violation of. Also, the Chinese have been taking advantage of the bilateral nature of the agreement for decades to create a massive ‘missile gap’ of intermediate-range warheads that would violate the treaty if they were a party to it. Which probably explains why the Russians, who share a huge land border with China, feels the need to violate the treaty. So if the Chinese are taking advantage of the INF to build stockpiles, and the Russians are ignoring it to counter China, what is the point of the United States staying in a clearly ineffective treaty?

      • KiwiAntz
        November 2, 2018 at 21:21

        Steve, you stated Russia has broken the INF conditions, but the reality is that America hasn’t complied by those rules as well. The sad fact is that America cannot be trusted to comply with any International agreements such as the Paris Climate change agreements JCPOA Nuclear Deal with Iran & they withdrew from the ABM Treaty, now the INF? The next Treaty will be the US withdrawal from the START Treaty! America promised to not expand NATO to Russia’s border when the Cold War ended, but then did the opposite! The USA’s WORD is not worth the paper it’s written on & its failure to abide by any agreements is well known! AMERICA’S WORD IS WORTHLESS! Time & time again the USA’s duplicitous, self serving nature has proven completely that it’s a unreliable partner, a untrustworthy insidious Nation, that will just walk away if they don’t like the rules that they can’t set? The arrogance & hubris to demand other Nations abide by International laws of decency & humanity but that excudes the American Empire from the same rules is beyond contempt & hypocrisy!

      • Other Jim
        November 3, 2018 at 01:06

        If what you relate is true why can’t Mr Trump call for a world wide effort to reach treaties that ban the use of nuclear weapons in any situation?

    • November 2, 2018 at 11:58

      Kim Dixon – I was going to write my own post in response to this excellent article, but after reading yours I’m happy to just say thank you to you for a very well reasoned response that adds to the conversation.

    • Eddie
      November 2, 2018 at 22:29

      Excellent article by MK and excellent supplementary comment by KD.

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