Mississippi Burning the 1988 Film Mississippi Burning Reaction Paper

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Mississippi Burning

The 1988 film Mississippi Burning depicts the total infestation of Mississippi government and civic society by racist rednecks. The Ku Klux Klan serves as a quasi-governmental and paramilitary authority that defies federal law. Their total infiltration into local governments makes the KKK an incredibly dangerous and powerful organization.

Civil Rights legislation presents real threats to Klan authority. The KKK have no respect for the mandate of the federal government and are more than willing to use tactics like murder, assault, kidnapping, and terrorism in order to consolidate and maintain power. Their murdering of three civil rights activists transcends the gamut of ordinary crime and places the act squarely under the rubric of domestic terrorism. The KKK finds any dissenting opinions to be threatening, which is why Clinton Pell and the other Klansmen kill the civil rights activists.

Given the extraneous circumstances under which the KKK operates in the United States, the FBI has no choice but to use unconventional and trans-legal tactics in order to protect the public. While their actions can be construed as an abuse of power, agents Anderson and Ward do the right thing. They could not bring the Klansmen to justice via a standard due process of law because the Klan is so deeply entrenched in Mississippi government.

The Klan's systematic use of terrorist tactics is evident in several specific instances. Most obviously, the Ku Klux Klan kills civil rights activists in order to (a) prevent civil rights from usurping Klan authority in the South; (b) maintain white hegemony by forbidding the end result of civil rights, which is black empowerment; and (c) to send a message to other would-be pesky civil rights activists.
The ideological basis of the murders highlights the difference between terrorist killings and standard criminal homicides. Moreover, the entire group condones the murders and other Klan-sponsored acts of terrorism. Each and every member of the Ku Klux Klan understands that the organization's sole mission is to use acts of terror to maintain political, economic, and social control. This fact makes every member of the Klan personally responsible for every act committed by the Klan. It would be impossible to join the Klan and not be aware of its fundamentally racist platform.

The only way to enforce rule of law in the South is, unfortunately and ironically, by circumventing the law. Anderson understands this, which is why he is willing to use the backhanded tactics that he does in the film. Anderson tricks the major and assaults Sherriff Pell: acts that are completely unethical but which are minor sacrifices in the greater cause of preserving the rights and freedoms of all Americans. Anderson basically shows that he is more than willing to come across as the bad guy if it means enforcing the laws of the land and preventing future Klan acts of terror. The Klan's stronghold in the South is so formidable that local law….....

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