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    Goodness and Mercy and The Charleston Massacre

    On Wednesday evening, June 17, a 21-year-old White Supremacist sat for an hour in a prayer meeting with the good people of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston and, when the hour was up, opened fire with his .45 caliber Glock.  He slaughtered nine innocent church members for no other reason than that he held such a deep, abiding hatred for blacks he wanted to be the one to kill them.  His goal was to start a race war.

    Later, after he was caught, he admitted to the police that the parishioners were so nice to him he almost didn't do it.  It was the twist of the knife for those of us already grieving over his murder victims.  One single second of conscience, one deviant drop of human kindness, and the people who welcomed him into their fold might have been saved.

    He deliberately targeted the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, a revered historic black church, in service both publicly and secretly since 1822--the oldest of its kind in the south. A landmark. A haven. But if he thought his actions would destroy the church, he was as delusional as he is evil.

    After Roof was caught, surviving family members were given the chance to talk to him about their losses, about what he did to them when he took the lives of their loved ones.  Roof stood silently, barely moving, as each one took the microphone.  He must have been expecting the screaming rage I would have felt had he killed one of mine.  He no doubt could have identified with that. But what he got instead was forgiveness.  Merciful forgiveness.

    One by one, the mourners, still in shock at what he had done, described to him how they felt, and then, one by one, they offered their forgiveness. Their goodness and mercy finally broke through.  This morning Roof is on suicide watch.  There are reports that he is remorseful.

    The pity of it is, it doesn't matter now.  He can't bring back the nine people he murdered, no matter how much he may wish it.  And he'll never be anything but what he is: a vicious racist murderer.  He planned it, lived for the chance to do it, bragged about doing something hurtful to blacks, because he is a white supremacist and white supremacists are honor-bound to act on their hatred toward people of color.

    The black community in Charleston is in mourning.  In this country where racism keeps rearing its ugly head, we are grieving, too. We show it in our anger, in our determination to avenge these deaths, in our renewed resolve to do something about guns in this country, in our attempts to force our leaders to call this massacre what it was: a racist hate crime.  But the people closest to the attack are honoring their dead by singing freedom songs, by celebrating the lives of the dead, and by calling for forgiveness. They are the reason this one event, horrific and tragic as it is, will be a catalyst for change.

    Just as the September, 1963 bombing of the 16th Avenue Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, causing the tragic deaths of four young girls attending a Sunday school class, gave the Rev. Martin Luther King a more authoritative voice and moved the Civil Rights Movement forward, so will this latest attack on innocents bring about the kind of dialogue that demands change.

    We can't be distracted by calls for better gun control or more attention to mental illness.  We'll get to them.  For now, the conversation has to stay on racism.  We need to work on eliminating it.  Not just diminishing it or hiding it under the carpet, but eliminating it.

    It'll take all of us who care  We have to do it in a way that honors those who have died, and in a way that is satisfactory to the mourners left behind. We have to do it in such numbers there is no question that those who oppose racism are in the majority.  We have to do it now.


    (Cross-posted at Ramona's Voices)


    Great post, Ramona.

    It's been tremendously moving to see how gracious and generous Mother Emanuel's parishioners have been, both before the shooting and after. It's humbling to behold.


    Thanks, Doc.  They are an inspiration.  "Humbling" is exactly right.

    Conservatives are being turned in knots. They cannot recognize racism, so they defalt to a position stating that the massacre was an attack on Christmas. Consevatives consider blacks violent and subhuman. They see public protests when police, agents of the state, kill unarmed citizens and do not understand the rage against systemic racism in the judicial system. they are surprised when there are no protests but prayer vigils after the church massacre.

    Conservatives love the option of being able to be racists and still be acceptable to the GOP. Barry Goldwater boasted of support for state's Rights and the ability to discriminate. Rand Paul follows proudly in Goldwater's footsteps. Rand cannot call the attack racist. Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina say that it's up to Carolina to decide and voice no personal opinion. SC Senator Tim Scott, has offered no opinion on the flag.

    This will change things.  Nobody is listening to the people you cite.  They're meaningless.  We've have these clarifying moments before and change happened.  I'm convinced it will again.  The good people of Emanuel AME are showing us the way.

    "The pity of it is, it doesn't matter now.  He can't bring back the nine people he murdered, no matter how much he may wish it. " - respectfully disagree-Steven Biko died but was a turning point. The Black Hole of Calcutta was an awful turning point. Humans have died as victims or daring heroes, but we try to push forward either way. We never know which protestor will be remembered as a Rosa Parks and which will be an equally important but unknown also-ran. All the innocents slaughtered on the way to Biko helped pave the way. These folks in South Carolina seem amazingly wise - a sad and painful step on the path and hope of a better future - they could fall back on bitterness and lamenting their fate, which would be their right - but they seem to see their role in the history of things. If I would be so strong...

    The lives of those nine are over but that doesn't mean their spirits won't live on.  I agree.  That's why I wrote, "But the people closest to the attack are honoring their dead by singing freedom songs, by celebrating the lives of the dead, and by calling for forgiveness. They are the reason this one event, horrific and tragic as it is, will be a catalyst for change."

    it always takes a terrible tragedy before real reform takes place, but it does.  It will.

    This is a great day Ramona.

    I noted in the 'News' that something happened today in South Carolina.

    There was a reaction from the most Confederate Sympathizers of all time.

    THEY are taking down the flag.

    Racism still prevails.

    Inequality still prevails.

    But damn


    This is a good day.

    Oh, and our President said the 'N' word. hahahahahah

    That's Okay, Rose would say.....


    I feel good today.

    Nine people died this week, so that a statement could be made.

    Hundreds of thousands have been ignored by state prelates.

    But today, those hundreds of thousands have been recognized.

    And a statement has been made that I never would have believed could be made.

    the end

    This may be the first time I've ever agreed with anything Nikki Haley had to say, but I'm glad she did it the way she did.  She spoke as a true governor of all the people in her state.  Jim Clyburn stood next to her and the new black senator, but why, oh, why was Reince Priebus standing behind her?  Talk about clueless.

    I had to go back and look at the tape the second time.  I could see when I watched it the first time the guy behind her was looking up and down with a dumb look on his face.  

    The GOP doesn't have much leadership right now on the national level. The crap had hit the fan and was raining down on the GOP.  The flag had to go in order to neutralize the situation for the GOP. Rinse and Spin was there to show how they are not racist. I find that an oxymoron that he was even there after the RNC has been trying to discredit and disrespecting our President. It is a little late they will still have it hung around their neck. 

    I am also glad to see the retailers are having second thoughts about selling merchandise with this battle flag.  It is time to make this unacceptable and shameful.  It is time for Strom Thurman and his Dixicrats with their battle flag to be swept into the dustbin of South Carolina's history. 

    I am glad you decided to post this here from your face book comment  and expand it. . 

    I'd be a happy camper if they'd stop selling American flag apparel, too. Never have understood why people want to wear it.

    Social media was busy all weekend with organizing boycotts. People were posting that they were cancelling their reservations in SC.  Emails were being sent to retailers about the flag and accessories. Walmart response was quick on Monday morning. 

    The country said loud and clear "we want these flags gone and all the hate symbols with them." 

    Me, too.  I've always thought clothing made in China but depicting the American flag was about as crass as it gets.  Ugh.

    Today was quite a day, wasn't it?  I hate that it always takes a tragedy to wake people up but if we can keep this going the change we've been waiting for just might happen, and sooner than we could have imagined.

    I had planned to write about the church murders but was stuck until I wrote that comment and then realized that that was where I wanted to go with it.  Thanks, Momoe.  Your comments are always worth reading.

    I know I have been on this computer way too much since this started.  I think it is because I have been waiting for the GOP to fall apart.  They have all these cracks in a coalition that came together before Reagan.  I don't think the historians will actually call this the conservative period for the last 40 years but something on the order of civil rights backlash or the dark ages.  There was nothing conservative about this period. They didn't conserve much of anything. Just put a lot of minorities in prison and gave away the store to the oligarchy. 

    The GOP has hung on way past their actual popular support because of monetary support from the uber wealthy and political corruption. You can really see the corruption on the state level in states that have GOP majorities. They are not even trying to hide the malfeasance. There really isn't any leadership in the party.  It is like they are all in this for themselves or bought by the Koch bros. When they lose power it will seem to happen over night but in truth they have been in the process of shooting themselves in the foot since 2000. 

    We didn't see them circle the wagons this past week or march in loch step like they have in the past.  The GOP was in complete chaos over these murders by a young white racist. Where was their talking points that usually is all over the media?  Did they fire Frank Luntz and all his clever words?   I didn't hear any echo.  It was all gibberish coming from the Republican leadership and president wanna bees. No one was really listening to them because there was nothing being said that was worth while. .

    On top of all this the Pope took the Republicans to the wood shed for denying global warming.  

    My goodness. Rinse and Spin stood there looking like he had the attention span of a nat. 

    I guess we need to tighten our seat belts for the Supreme Court Rulings that is up next.

    Now we need to get rid of the war on drugs and empty out the prisons that are dominated by minorities.  

    Dylann Storm Roof has helped race relations enormously. He exposed the GOP and the supporters of the Confederacy. He made people come face to face with the reality that the Confederacy was based on slavery and racism.Portions of the GOP realize that their practice of ignoring racism is no longer going to be tolerated. Clementa Pinckney's humanity touched the hearts of his Republican colleagues. Facing the reality of the Confederacy and removal of the Confederate flag is a baby step in our national dialog on race. I have come to a point where I too can forgive Dylann Storm Roof.

    I wonder if Roof will realize that his actions have demonized that which he loves and elevated that which he hates?

    Even murder can be forgiven, even the sacrifice of lives [so long as it is of others, I can't help but presume] in a perverted maniacal act of terrorism against those whom you hold in a special category of humanity that is ultimately more important to you than any other, can be forgiven if it moves things in even a tiny way in the direction you wish for.  Cool !!!  that is so Christian. It actually is so American. I tend to believe that the only ones having the right to forgive are those much more closely affected by the crime, those who actually paid a price. Your stated position is like you forgiving Bush in the name of Iraq for the crime of starting that war just because it helped get a Democrat elected. Bullshit.  

    Constant ,narrowly focused demonization of the Confederacy in totality is so much bullshit too, not because the Confederacy was good  in its defense of slavery but because what evolved in the once again unified country after its defeat is no better on the terms used for that demonization.  It is part of preserving an aspect of our American myth of exceptionalism that helps prevent real progressive evolution of our culture and of our way of life. We, as a country, have merely off-shored most our unholy subjugation of 'the other' and you continue to support that as long as you support and defend a President in everything he does just because he is black.  I see much of your strident moaning about race and discrimination as weak and shallow because it is so narrowly focused.   

    Soo much to unpack here.

    We are discussing thee murder of nine Christians in an AME church. You are not pleased by the discussion, so criticize me for not mentioning the deaths of others in foreign lands. Because I don't mentions other deaths, I am deficient. I didn't mention the deaths in the Sikh temple, or the 26 souls slaughtered  in a child care center either. By your standard, I care nothing about those lives. Your argument makes no sense. People were grieving the most recent slaughter of lives here in the United States.

    You argue that forgiveness can only come from people directly involved in a situation. You are incorrect. I have relatives in Charleston. They are ministers, in seminary, or on the police force. Their lives were touched by the loss of acquaintances. I felt touched as well. I did need t forgive Dylann Storm Roof. I was moved by the families impacted forgiving the murderer. It was the Christian thing to do and cathartic for me. You will not understand this and that is of no consequence to me.

    Next comes an argument about wanting Democrats elected. I proudly state this frequently. I do not trust Republicans in office. If you have an alternative to participating in the voting process to effect some change, please let me know your solution.

    Then comes a rant that the Confederacy wasn't good but it can't be commented on because the United States is a warmonger. Again, you are incorrect. Multiple evils can be addressed. The legacy of racism left after the Civil War can be addressed along with the need for war in the United States. Instead of a post with a personal attack, you could have written one about the evil of war. my post did not prevent you from expressing what you say needed to be addressed. but you went for the personal.

    You get to President Barack Obama. Here you continue the personal attack and add in race. You state that I support Obama because he is black. There have been previous discussions noting that I support Democrats. You criticize me for this above. Now you say I support Obama because of race? I supported Bill Clinton during impeachment. I guess your argument is that Clinton was the first black President.

    Finally, you end on my focus on black issues is narrow. Is it too narrow because it focuses on black issues?

    I doubt that there is a candidate anywhere that will satisfy your needs. I feel for you. If you actually do have someone who is fulfilling your needs, write a post. If you want to discuss endless wars, write a post.

    If I haven't addressed the concerns expressed in your post,construct a response and I will reply.

    The various bloggs and comments on this subject have been, for the most part, interesting and thought provoking. Your statement that you had reached the point where YOU could forgive Dylan Storm strikes me as misguided hubris. Despite your claim that you have a right to do so because you know some people in the same city, I still disagree. I think that you made that claim of forgiveness to place yourself in the same admirable light [probably though, not with that as a conscious motive] as that light shining on the those who actually do have, IMO, that right. But, maybe I am wrong because you mean something different than what I believe the word ‘forgiveness’ to mean. Do you actually mean that you have stopped  feeling angry and  resentful towards Storm for his offense? Have you pardoned him in your own mind? Have you excused him? Have you the further hubris to feel that you can exonerate him? Do you absolve him of his crime?  Do you make allowance and feel no resentment, no malice? Do you harbor no ill will and feel no malice towards him for what he did? Are you ready to let bygones be bygones and bury the hatchet? Doing these things would be in accord with my understanding of forgiveness but I would still believe that it is not your place, in this case, to do so.

    I did not say that the Confederacy and its faults should not be remarked upon, just that some of the criticisms, while being correct, come off as the pot calling the kettle black.

    It is not my intention to attack you as a person but strongly disagreeing with something you have said that you believe and then expressing why I think that that ‘something’ is wrong cannot help but be a bit personal if you choose to see it that way and to defend your position by playing that card.

    "Finally, you end on my focus on black issues is narrow. Is it too narrow because it focuses on black issues?"

    Yes, if you can only see some crimes as crimes, or at least that is the only time you make a strong issue of them as an ongoing crime needing attention, is when they are committed against black Americans, I then conclude that your interest in what is right and what is wrong is too narrow. That is also why I said your focus is shallow. 

    So you think that I'm showing hubris. I think that I am releasing anger. Your objection on this point seems ridiculous. Your are free to your somewhat limited opinion. I said that you would not understand. You met my expectation.

    If you look at response to your post, I'm not the only one who considered it a personal attack. I'm not playing any card.

    Can you name the massacres where you think my response has not met your expectations? How would you rate your dagblog response to the massacre in Charleston?

    Here is a comment about forgiveness and Dylann Roof  from an African-American writer that appeared in the NYT. It is not hubris, it is a shared experience and a call to the black church. The sense I am getting is that African-Americans were touched by the forgiving nature of the families. We have the sense that that shows the true message of the church. I was commenting on my need to forgive Roof as a personal healing. The NYT writer is unable to forgive Roof.

    Lulu, please stick to the issues and leave the analysis of someone's inner thoughts or beliefs out of it.  Thanks.

    Please keep it civil.  No need to take it to a personal level.

    Alabama removed the Confederate flag from its state grounds today.

    There is one positive development here:

    One by one, the mourners, still in shock at what he had done, described to him how they felt, and then, one by one, they offered their forgiveness. Their goodness and mercy finally broke through.  This morning Roof is on suicide watch.  There are reports that he is remorseful.

    He could have used the trial, which will be media circus, to incite others to follow him by committing similar acts, to push the white supremacy agenda, and to turn himself as a martyr of the federal government who are trying to take their guns, attack Christianity, etc. Instead the racists and white supremacists will listen to one of their own undermine their legitimacy and righteousness. 

    It looks like a few simple acts of forgiveness are all it's going to take.  Who could have imagined?

    Yeah. The first react for most of us was outrage and the desire to inflict some kind of bodily pain to him. Yet anger & hate directed at anger & hate only creates more anger & hate. Because we are only humans, this is a difficult principle to live by.

    Very well written! I'm sharing a quote from your piece!

    Thank you, Danny.  Share away!

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