In the case of domestic terrorism however, the reason for reaction is relevant in terms of internal politics. Thus, the Klan's mission, under the 1915 Act was focused on even influencing the political decisions made for the presidency of the U.S., however based on religious considerations. Aside from the fact that they stood against the increasing influence of the Black people, they also supported supremacy of the protestant religion and therefore rejected any other particular religions. Thus, "stressing white Protestant supremacy, the Klan enjoyed a spurt of growth in 1928 as a reaction to the Democrats' nomination for president of Alfred E. Smith, a Roman Catholic." (Ku Klux Klan, n.d.)
In their actions they followed the lines of a traditional domestic terror group because they undergone their activities on the territory of the U.S. More precisely, Arnold Rice points out that at the peak of their development, by the time the Klan had gathered around 4 million members, their activities became spread all over the country, without any reference made to outside help or international involvement. Therefore, he underlines that "is a serious mistake to think that the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920's was a powerful force only in the Deep South. To be sure, the order was founded in Georgia, and then spread rather quickly to the neighboring states of Alabama and Florida. However, the Klan reached its first peak of success, after the Congressional investigation in October, 1921, in the vast area to the west of the lower Mississippi River, in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Then the organization took firm root on the Pacific coast, first in California and later in Oregon. And by 1924 the fraternity reached extraordinary success in the Middle West generally and fantastic success in the states of Indiana and Ohio particularly." (13) Therefore, it can be said that the Klan conducted its activities domestically and trying to influence solely the internal situation in the country.
Thirdly, in a discussion related to domestic terrorist groups, it is essential to take into account the actual motivation of the group as well as its efforts to "influence persons or property, to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives." (FBI, 2007) in the situation of the KKK, their initial aim was not political, but rather a social one; their main objective was to prevent any emancipation of the black population. The aversion towards the blacks came as a natural consequence of their racial views as a right wing group. Furthermore, the fact that the organization was born and evolved on the land of former slave plantations justifies their commitment to destroying the Black population, if not physically, but socially.
Finally, domestic terrorist groups, in order to achieve their social and political groups make use of political pressures or act to such an extent as to put governments and authorities under a certain pressure that would determine them to act. Throughout its history, the KKK tried to influence the political scene as well, in order to ensure the passing of certain laws that would benefit the white segment of the population, and limit the possibilities of the blacks, the Jews, the Catholics, and other foreigners. Their mentality relied on the idea of supremacy and of the spirit of the Arian race. This is why, after the Klan began to slightly lose its members, other extremist groups that stood against foreigners of non-Arian descent, did follow on the path of the KKK.
The political pressures made by the Klan were somewhat visible especially in the 20s when they tended to take sides in the naming of the 1924 Republican presidential campaign. However, their interest in politics was limited to forcing the politicians from outlawing the Klan due to their unconstitutional behavior, breaching the essential rights encompassed in the Constitution. (Rice, 1962, 75) However, their political activities throughout their existence included also pressures made on the political elites in the late 19th century to refuse or at least limit the voting rights of the black people. The pressures succeeded and barriers preventing former slaves to cast their vote were subsequently adopted. Therefore, it can be said that aside from the violent means used to physically injure the black people, the Jews, the Catholics, the Klan also made use of political pressure in order to achieve its interests.
Overall, it can be concluded that the Ku Klux Klan was a controversial issue in the history of the U.S. The controversy rises not so much from their attitudes but rather from the perspective of their motivation and course of action. From a certain point-of-view, that of its historical evolution, it cannot be fully labeled a terror organization, yet it has been considered, in the light of the means used and the motivations, as being one of the first domestic terrorist groups of the U.S.
Horn, S. (1939) Invisible Empire: the story of the Ku Klux Klan, 1866-1871. Boston: Houghton Mifflin,
Jenkins, P. (1997). A history of the United States. New York: Palgrave.
Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. (1996-1997) a Brief History of the Ku Klux Klan. Retrieved 4 November 2007, at http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=1077-3711%28199624%2F199724%290%3A14%3C32%3AABHOTK%3E2.0.CO%3B2-I
Ku Klux Klan.(n.d.) Edited by R.A. Guisepi. History World International. Retrieve 4 November 2007, at http://history-world.org/ku_klux_klan.htm
Rice, a.S. (1962). The Ku Klux Klan in American Politics. Washington, DC: Public Affairs Press.
Schaefer, R.T. (1971) the Ku Klux Klan: Continuity and Change. Phylon, Vol. 32, No. 2. Retrieved 4 November 2007, at http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0031-8906%28197132%2932%3A2%3C143%3ATKKKCA%3E2.0.CO%3B2-U
The Federal Bureau of Investigations. (2002) Testimony of James F. Jarboe, Domestic Terrorism Section Chief, Counterterrorism Division, FBI before the House Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health. The Threat of Eco-Terrorism. FBI website. Retrieved 4 November 2007, at http://www.fbi.gov/congress/congress02/jarboe021202.htm