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Racism Blamed in Shock Wave of Church Burnings read the screaming headline in the New York Daily News The South is Burning A Rash of Torching at Black Churches Has Resurrected the Ugly Specter of Racism chimed in the Toronto Star Newsweek warned of Terror in the Night Down South While USA Today reported that Arson at Black Churches Echoes Bigotry of PastFumento 1 In the summer of 1996 the US media widely reported a surge in white racist burnings of black churches in the American South It all started the Center for Democratic Renewal announced a huge increase in arsons against black churches by whites Black churches were burning at the rate of one per week mostly due to arson Swett 2 The media jumped on the story The racial church burnings soon became issues of Politicians President Bill Clinton was running for re-election and desperately needed the votes of the black communities Clinton made the discrimination issue a priority Clinton held a White House summit on the issue and assigned the FBI to investigate Eventually he passed a law authorizing 12 million dollars to fight arsons of churches During a passionate speech President Clinton shared that he had vivid and painful memories of black churches being burned in my own state when I was a child Ironically historians and civil rights activists in Arkansas could find no mention of any church arsons in the state during his childhood Furthermore Al Gore was quoted For a very large number of the burnings what you will find ultimately I predict is that a common thread of underlying racism is presentElven 2 The church burnings had all the makings of a great story mystery race religion and an eerie echo of the pastHeyboer 1 Michael Fumento a journalist for the Wall Street Journal wrote It appears that the public may be finally catching on that the black church burning epidemic of 1996 is actually one of
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