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Domestic Terrorism

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There are many different definitions of domestic terrorism. However, I define domestic terrorism as physical violence, actual or threatened, against an organization to create fear in order to effect some kind of political and or social change within the United States. Unlike international terrorism, domestic terrorism is usually carried out by local citizens who have become offended or feel threaten or believe they have or will be mistreated by organizations within their own society (government and religious structures). There are two specific types of domestic terrorism. They are “terrorism from above” and “terrorism from below”

Terrorism from above occurs when persons who are legally empowered either covertly or overtly use, or threaten to use, political violence to maintain or defend political power within their domestic borders, or to maintain, defend, overthrow, or undermine the political power of other nations within the international community. One example of terrorism from above is the American Slavery. In 1619, black slaves arrived in colonial America with several different servitudes. However, within four decades, they would be legally restricted to only one: enslavement. For more than two centuries Blacks who were purchased were physically and emotionally terrorized under the legal system of slavery. Slavery was justified by the local government in order to solve the labor shortages in the colonies. Slavery would be supported and justified by colonial rulers for the next 250 years. (Whamond page 37)

Terrorism from below occurs when persons use, or threaten to use, political violence either to undermine or overthrow existing governmental policies or structures, or to intimidate individuals and groups they perceive as threatening to the social, political, economic, or ideological status quo. Probably the most famous example of terrorism from below is the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan’s underlying ideas of racial separation and white Protestant supremacy echoed throughout white society in the 1920s, as racial and religious hatreds determined the political dialogue in many communities. Few white-controlled institutions or organizations in the United States either practiced or espoused racial integration or equality, allowing the Klan to proudly proclaim its continuity with established sentiment among whtes.
(Whamond page 49)


Miki Vohryzek-Bolden, Gayle Olson-Raymer, Jeffery O. Whamond. (2001) Domestic Terrorism and Incident Management: Issues and Tactics. (3-72)

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