Sunday-- May 12, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 243
The Killing Of Mothers Of Vigilance
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City,
May 12--Four young girls who died 38 years ago won't be celebrating
Mothers Day today.
But the lone, surviving Terrorist who
is on trial for their murders nearly four decades later is.
Bobby Frank Cherry, 71, is a symbol
of perhaps the most insidious and cruel kind of Terrorism--racism.
He allegedly helped plant a bomb in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church on
September 15, 1963 that killed Denise McNair, 11, Carole Robertson,
Cynthia Wesley and Addie Mae Collins, all 14.
Former Klu Klux Klan members, Cherry
( on the left) and three other men have been charged with the crimes over the past nearly
four decades. Cherry is the last to go to trial.
In 1977 Robert Edward Chambliss was
convicted of murder in the death of 11-year-old Carole Denise McNair, 14
years after the crime was committed. Chambliss
(picture below) died in prison in
In 1988 Gary A Tucker, a former bus driver
dying of cancer admitted he helped set the bomb, causing the case to be
On May 17, 2000 Thomas Blanton Jr. and Bobby
Frank Cherry surrendered to authorities after a grand jury indicted them on
first degree murder. Blanton died in jail while Cherry fought his
indictment on the grounds he wasn't mentally competent to stand trial.
He lost that battle. State prosecutors and defense lawyers are
expected to select a jury this Monday (May 13) and begin opening
statements against the single, living Terrorist of the September 15th,
1963 attack that killed the four girls and wounded 18 other people.
While Mothers Day is supposed to be a day
of honoring those who have brought children into the world, it is also a
day to remember those mothers and future mothers who were deprived of that right by the forces of
Four young ladies with a rich life of
opportunity awaiting them were erased from the earth by hatred, prejudice,
bigotry and violence at the cusp of their womanhood.
I have a special concern about this
case. My grandfather used to brag about being a member of the Klu
Klux Klan in Iowa. His admission and boasting still haunts me.
The Terrorists in the 16th Street
Baptist Church bombings were members of the Eastview Klavern 13 chapter of
the Klu Klux Klan. I searched for the history of the Klan to
research its roots. It didn't start out as Terrorist group,
but as a one seeking to provide Vigilance
Former Confederate General
Nathan Bedford Forrest
founded the original Ku Klux Klan following the War between the
States to protect the widows and orphans of the
Confederate dead and to foster the principles of separation between whites
and blacks. He named the group "Kuklos Klan," a mixture of Greek and
Scottish meaning "family circle." (kuklos is a Greek word
meaning circle or wheel.) Branches of the group sprang up across
the South, and many white Southerners, frustrated over Federal
Reconstruction policies, used the cover of the Klan to lash out against
the occupying federal soldiers or against blacks who were benefiting from
Reconstruction's open racial policies. Unable to control the increasing
violence, Forrest formally disbanded the Klan in 1869, and the federal
government crushed the residual chapters by 1871.
Inspired by D. W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation,
which romanticized the Klan's clandestine exploits, William J. Simmons
restarted the Klan in 1915, staging a dramatic kick off atop of Stone
Mountain, the future site of the Confederate Memorial Carving. Simmons,
who called himself a Colonel although he never received the military
rank, burned a cross atop of the mountain and started to solicit
membership in the reborn Klan. This new version of the Klan prospered, and
began to evolve into a White Supremist group, Terrorizing anyone who
challenged white authority.
It bred hatred.
I remember my grandfather telling
the story of how he and others in the small farming community
of Davenport, Iowa, captured a black man accused of raping a
school teacher. They made him run over a freshly
cut field of corn barefoot, his feet bloodied by the spears
of the sharp stalks. Then they tied the man to the top
of the school and burned it. I was six years old
as he told me the story and I cringed. From that day on
I kept my distance from my grandfather, fearful of him because
of the image I had of him.
I grew up in the military, as the step-son of an air
force sergeant. Racism was rampant. The "N" word was used as a
descriptive adjective as commonly as "Afro-American" is today.
I remember a party once with my father's boss, an air force colonel.
It was a Christmas celebration and everyone wanted a picture of the group.
One of the airmen at the party was black. The colonel, from South
Carolina, was a very pleasant, soft spoken man everyone liked.
When it came time for the picture he halted the cameraman and turned to
the black airman standing next to me.
"Excuse me, son," he said, "but if you don't mind,
would you please not be in this picture. You see, when I retire I'm
planning on running for a political office back home. And, if anyone got
hold of this picture, well, son, it wouldn't get me the kind of votes I'd
need to win. You understand, don't you?"
"Of course, sir," the airman replied, and
politely stepped out of the picture.
It was hard for me to not see blacks and Asians
and anyone of a different color or creed as a "brother" or "sister" as I
grew up. I can't say I was fed hatred of those of different
races, but I was certainly given a daily dose of prejudice and bigotry,
laced with the "Christian" blanket that "all people are God's children."
Of course, this was tossed in after the "N"-word was said, or as an
afterthought demeaning a certain person because of race or creed.
Unfortunately brotherly love of all human beings
following a spear in their race or creed doesn't heal the bigotry wounds
in a child.
As I've matured in life so have my viewpoints about
others. When I moved to New York City from highly
conservative, almost totally white, Republican, conservative Orange
County, California two years ago, I went through a major culture shock.
It took me months of restraint to accept the diversity of the city and to
assimilate the vast cultural differences of people from all walks of life
and stations of economic status.
The writer in me knew better than to narrow my
viewpoint about people, but the seeds of bigotry and prejudice planted
deep in the furrows of my being as a child and adult held fast to certain
black and white viewpoints that I struggled with to turn into grays, and
then ultimately into rainbows.
Fortunately, my children did not inherit my
bigotries or prejudices. They are comfortable in a world of
diversity, and when and if I slip into old behaviors, they admonish me,
rightly so, and shame me justly for not guarding the Terrorism of
prejudice that, unchecked, leads one to plant bombs and maim and kill
innocent people for no just reason.
That's why I'm on trial with Bobby Frank Cherry.
And, hopefully, anyone who harbors prejudice and bigotry against any
group, should also be on trial. For the trial isn't just about
the killing of black children, it is about the killing of human compassion
for others. It is about the danger of breeding hatred, bigotry,
prejudice in the minds of children who surround adults infected by the
disease of racism.
And, mothers as well as fathers are to blame for
this viral infection of prejudice. Both deserve a smack across
the moral face to awaken them to the dangers of seeding prejudice in a
child's mind, either by intent or by omission.
September 11th was an act by the Klu Klux Klan of
It was a magnification of what happened on
September 15th, 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama.
Iraqi dissident, Kanan Makiya, writing an opinion
that was published in the London Observer on Sunday, October 7, 2001,
cites the similarities between the Klu Klux Klan and the Terrorist attacks
of September 11th. Here is a quote from his article:
the five-page letter left in a suitcase in the car-park of Boston's
airport, this passage, giving guidance to the hijackers in case they
should meet resistance from a passenger, appears: 'If
God grants any one of you a slaughter, you should perform it as an
offering on behalf of your father and mother, for they are owed by
you. Do not disagree among yourselves, but listen and obey.
If you slaughter, you should plunder those you slaughter, for that
is a sanctioned custom of the Prophet's, on the condition that you
do not get occupied with the plunder so that you would leave what is
more important, such as paying attention to the enemy, his treachery
and attacks. That is because such action is very harmful [to the
This is not Islam any more than the Ku Klux Klan is
Christianity. No concessions can be made to either mindset which
have more in common with one another than they do with the religions
they claim to represent.
The words that struck me were that the
"slaughter" be performed on "behalf of your father and mother, for they
are owed by you."
Compassion for others, in my opinion, should be
taught by mothers. A mother should know and protect the
child's sense of justice. Fathers generally have rough edges and
tend to sharpen their knives of discontent with their tongues.
Mothers balance those edges, dull them when necessary.
It seems incredible to me that a mother today in
the 21st Century would allow violence against another race to exist in a
family without counterbalancing that prejudice, hatred and bigotry with
slaving compassion. Mothers of Vigilance do this. They
stop the ranting and ravings of hatred, and quash the right of anyone in
the family to bear ill upon others of difference.
I remember my grandmother not saying a word as my
grandfather told his Klu Klux Klan story. I remember my mother
sitting there affirming the story. I do not recall either of them
quashing the right to bear witness against another, or the right to act as
a vigilante against them. If they did, that memory was long lost by
the power of their silence, or lack of their demand. I wash such thoughts
from my mind as my grandmother washed my mouth out with a bar of soap when
she overheard me say a "dirty word." I regret they didn't wash my
mind out that day, for I have been known in the past to whisper with some
secret pride: "My grandfather was a Klu Klux Klan member."
Again, that's part of the reason I'm on trial with Bobby
Frank Cherry. While I can't recall ever acting with violence
against any race, I have to admit to years in which I let my prejudices
and bigotry and white self-righteousness ooze out of my mouth at the
expense of my human compassion, my own Vigilance as a human being who
tries to see all as equals--at least these days.
My point is that while all of us need to be
Parents of Vigilance regarding prejudice and bigotry, I throw the weight
of that responsibility upon the Mothers of Vigilance.
Some might say I'm being sexist, or granting immunity to the Fathers of
Vigilance on this issue.
I'm not. Both mothers and fathers need to
guard their opinions and thoughts from infecting their children's racial
innocence. But I do believe that men shoot more bigotry and
prejudice from their lips than women regarding racial inequality.
And, as a result of the difference in volume and often in the degree of
animosity, it falls upon the Mother of Vigilance to perform additional
guardianship over the vitriolic tongues of men.
I do not disagree that women may, in
some cases, hold more prejudice than men on this issue.
And if so, then the tables should be reversed. The
Father of Vigilance needs to put up extra sentries to guard
against his wife's tongue, if that is the case.
Although, generally, I doubt this is the case.
Jihads today are created in large part by the
formation of prejudices by parents.
On this Mothers Day, let's all hope we can bite
our tongues and wash our minds. And, that our Mothers of Vigilance
will remember the four young girls who died on September 15th, 1963, and
have the Courage, Conviction and take the Right Action necessary to stop
the Seeds Of Terrorism from being planted in their children's minds.
I'm on trial today! Are you?
TO: May 11--Osama Is Hiding In Lake Davis, California
- 2004, VigilanceVoice.com, All rights reserved - a ((HYYPE))