January 28, 2005,
As Iraqis prepare to cast secret ballots in Sunday's free election, terrorists work day and night to obliterate the entire project. Their political violence recalls that of white supremacists who shielded Jim Crow in the battle for civil rights. Those who block the doorway to Iraqi self-determination are nothing more than Islamo-Klansmen.
"Those of you who think you can vote and then run away...we will shadow you and catch you, and we will cut off your heads and the heads of your children," threatened one Muslim-extremist leaflet the New York Times's Dexter Filkins saw distributed on Baghdad's Madaris Street. "This is a final warning to all of those who plan to participate in the election," it continued. "We vow to wash the streets of Baghdad with the voters' blood."
That blood already flows. On Wednesday alone, terrorists bombed three Baghdad polling places. A fourth explosive was disarmed at another precinct: an elementary school. In Baquba, Islamic fanatics shot up the offices of the Kurdistan Democratic party, the Coalition of Iraqi National Unity, and the Iraqi Communist party. They also released a videotape of three election workers kidnapped in Mosul.
Last month, terrorists yanked three election officials from their car in Baghdad and shot them point blank in their skulls in broad daylight. They also assassinated party leader Ayatollah Baqir al-Hakim in an attack that killed 13 Iraqis and wounded 66.
Such mayhem has hindered campaigning. Some parties conceal the names of their candidates to prevent political tickets from becoming hit lists.
The Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists similarly slaved away to stymie southern democracy. An 1866 assault on black and white Republican legislators in New Orleans by racist white Democrats killed 137 people and wounded hundreds more. Ongoing Klan violence led President Ulysses S. Grant to announce in 1871 that (note the word) "insurgents were in rebellion against the authority of the United States."
The Invisible Empire of the South, as the KKK also was known, kept the torch of terror ablaze. During 1964's Freedom Summer, Mississippi alone saw 30 black homes burned, 35 volunteers shot at, 37 black churches firebombed, 80 activists beaten by white bigots, and some 1,000 civil rights fighters and their allies jailed by racist cops.
Freedom Summer also featured the murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. These Congress of Racial Equality staffers began their last day on Earth surveying the embers of Mount Zion Methodist Church. It welcomed civil-rights-oriented educational events. Thus, it was reduced to cinders, like so many Iraqi mosques that have evoked al-Qaeda's ire.
Klansmen also killed Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee, two Mississippians mistakenly thought to be plotting a black insurrection. Iraqi terrorists would be touched to learn that Henry Dee was found beheaded.
In Birmingham, Alabama, segregationist explosions were so routine that it was nicknamed "Bombingham." One oft-attacked neighborhood was dubbed "Dynamite Hill." Between 1945 and 1963, white racists blew up 60 black homes and churches according to Free at Last: A History of the Civil Rights Movement and Those Who Died in the Struggle, published by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in Montgomery, Alabama.
Birmingham's most notorious atrocity was the September 15, 1963, bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, an integrationist hotbed. Exploding dynamite injured at least 20 people and killed Sunday school students Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley, all 14, and Denise McNair, 11, a childhood friend of Condoleezza Rice.
"The Sixteenth Street Church bombing was a wake-up call for northern whites," says SPLC's Mark Potok. "The deaths of four little girls in white dresses was too much even for whites who hadn't cared about civil rights."
Perhaps an equally diabolical terrorist bomb will inspire Bush haters to redirect some of their abundant rage toward Iraq's anti-democratic butchers. So far, the only thing more jarring than improvised explosive devices is the accompanying quietude of American liberals. They rail against Bush's efforts to share with the Iraqi people the blessings of liberty. They have fretted themselves into knots and even stalled the electoral college's certification of the November 2 vote because some Ohioans were "disenfranchised" by long lines at some precincts. How does the Move-On crowd respond to Iraqi voters and election officials being disenfranchised through decapitation and detonation? In a word: "Whatever."
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi commander of "Al-Qaeda in the Land of the Tigris and the Euphrates" raised eyebrows January 23 with his metaphysical rejection of democracy. "We have declared a bitter war against the principle of democracy and all those who seek to enact it," Zarqawi stated in an Internet audio message. "Democracy is also based on the right to choose your religion [which is] against the rule of God."
Zarqawi's contempt for self-government and its supporters parallels the jaw-droppingly ugly words uttered in Georgia in 1954 by Dr. E.P. Pruitt, the Alabama Klan's Grand Dragon:
The Klan don't hate nobody! In fact, the Klan is the good n***er's best friend. If the n***er will devote his energies to becoming a better, more useful n***er, rather than the dupe of Northern interests who have caused him to misconstrue his social standing, he will reap the rewards of industry, instead of the disappointment of ambition unobtainable!
Sunday's election pits the "blacks" of the Iraqi electorate against Grand Wizard Zarqawi and his hooded Islamo-Klansmen. Still, the pro-civil-rights Left trivializes Iraqis' democratic aspirations and regards President Bush as the villain in this bloody drama.
Even as liberals grumble through it, let's hope this historic vote will accelerate Iraq's evolution from repression to republican rule. As Martin Luther King Jr. once observed: "Even though the arc of the moral universe is long, it bends toward justice."