Political Theory 50 (2):275-304 (2022)

In light of increasing white supremacist violence in the United States, calls to identify such violence as terrorism have surged in public discourse. Federal and state agencies have taken up these demands and included white supremacy in counterterrorism and national security policy. While this classification appears to remove the racist double standard in applications of the terrorism label, it has come under criticism for obscuring the history and distinctly U.S. American roots of white supremacy, on the one hand, and expanding the harmful and typically racially coercive consequences of U.S. counterterrorism, on the other hand. There is, however, a robust yet neglected tradition in U.S. racial justice activism that uses the language of terrorism to make sense of white supremacy. By examining this tradition, this essay offers a more nuanced assessment of the dangers and possibilities of classifying white supremacy as terrorism. Specifically, I look at Ida B. Wells’s analysis of lynching as racial terrorism to recover an alternative narrative of white supremacist terrorism. I argue that the understanding of white supremacy as terrorism in her writings not only exposes the partisan use of these terms and their complicity in constructing a narrowly circumscribed and biased public knowledge about racial domination, but also reveals some mistaken assumptions of the current debate. This essay thus sheds new light on a neglected discourse of white supremacist terrorism and makes it relevant for contemporary purposes.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1177/00905917211021381
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 70,337
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

[Book Review] the Racial Contract. [REVIEW]Charles W. Mills - 1997 - Social Theory and Practice 25 (1):155-160.
Imitation and Gender Insubordination1.J. Butler - forthcoming - Cultural Theory and Popular Culture:255.

View all 12 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Dark Grace: A Heuristic Journey Into White Consciousness.Roma Merklin Hammel - 2000 - Dissertation, California Institute of Integral Studies
Situating Genealogies of Terrorism.Cressida J. Heyes - 2020 - Foucault Studies 1 (28):17-24.
How (Not) to Study Terrorism.Verena Erlenbusch - 2014 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 17 (4):470-491.
Introduction: Kristeva and Race.Carol Mastrangelo Bové - 2018 - Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy 26 (2):1-5.


Added to PP index

Total views
6 ( #1,133,972 of 2,508,063 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #276,886 of 2,508,063 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes