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My Response to “BLM is a Terrorist Group”

I’ve never really agreed with the adage “Those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it.” Partly because I believe that history will always repeat itself, partly due to the fact that it’s unreasonable to expect everyone to study it to the level that would allow total avoidance. I do agree that knowledge of history gives you a better perspective on the trends of the world and can help you see them in a new light.

For example, let’s look at the Mormon Pioneers. When they crossed the country to settle in Utah, they were being taught (or had personally experienced) that people wanted to persecute them because of their religious identity. The leadership of the church spoke to this and made efforts to isolate the group and promote the strength of the community. This support of identity and community eventually turned a few fringe groups to be untrusting of those outside their community, which led to the Utah War and the Mountain Meadow Massacre, which killed 120 innocent men, women, and children.

So in short: a group felt persecuted, so it promoted community identity, which led to fringe groups committing atrocities. Sound familiar? This is a pattern that groups have followed for centuries, it’s a pattern that’s currently followed by Black Lives Matter, the Islamic Religion, and the American Republican Party. Should the Mormon Religion have been labeled a “Terrorist Group” because of the things that some members did in its name?

I think not, and here’s where I draw the line: when John D. Lee led the Mormons to commit the massacre, the church completely denounced him. They excommunicated and executed him, and made it clear to the rest of his followers that what he did was wrong. Similarly, many of today’s groups like BLM denounce the atrocities of fringe groups and teach their members to shun their practices. Many Muslims are fine with labeling ISIS as a terrorist organization so long as you don’t condemn the whole religion. Many Republicans condemn the practices of the KKK and other White Supremacy groups and are not violent themselves. Groups that support and laud violence are terrorist groups, but they should not represent the ideals that condemn them.

The responsibility of a larger group to be careful not to spawn terrorists is a deeper, more complicated discussion, and so I’ll suffice to say that it exists. But the tendency to treat a group that teaches love as a terrorist organization is all too common today and is rooted in much more sinister discrimination. 

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